I finally did it. I put on my work clothes, got out the Shop-Vac, went downstairs, and finished the project.
The dryer duct had somehow come loose and tons of lint was lining the floor, walls, and ceiling of our crawl-space.
The cleanup wasn’t urgent. I had already reattached the duct. Nor was there any pressing social concern; no one’s asking for a tour of our basement anytime soon.
For me it was personal: I knew that the project wasn’t truly done until I’d cleaned up the mess…and it had been hanging over my head for awhile.
I’d been delaying because the thought of contorting my body to fit into a dark, hot, dirty crawl space while wrangling a Shop-Vac and a flashlight just to clean up some obscure lint wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time.
Nor was it technically “high priority.” Sure, the lint could have posed a fire hazard, but we live in home built in 1900 made of solid stone, brick, and cement. The place is a fortress.
The real issue was that I hadn’t completed something I had started and it was draining me of mental energy. Perhaps you’ve experienced this, too.
Good news: when I finally did begin, it wasn’t as awful as I had imagined.
Sure, it was still messy, but with every sweep of the vacuum, the emotional weight of delay was dissipating. No longer was I procrastinating or making excuses – I was finally finishing the project, and it felt great.
It always amazes me how doing something we’ve been delaying can give us a such a positive burst of energy and motivation. We tend to forget that and make the whole process a drag:
Something difficult is undone and we know it.
We delay completion and it slowly drains us of energy.
We wait for the perfect time to resume the work (hint: it doesn’t exist).
So the undone just hangs over our heads as we try to ignore it (good luck with that; your brain still knows it’s there).
(Perhaps) we finally get around to doing and completing it. Suddenly, the whole energy equation changes – the motivation we’ve lost is restored, and more energy is actually added to us!
Put your imagination hat on with me for a sec. What if, instead of leaving things half-way complete, we made a practice of fully finishing them?
We’d go from undone to done regularly and habitually – like a boss. We’d marvel at our extra energy. We’d be more productive than ever. And on some level, we’d actually enjoy getting difficult things done instead of dreading it.
Think about some of the things that are incomplete in your life. Got it? Now think about how good it would feel to actually have them done instead of hanging over your head. Here are a few rewards:
The Rewards of Finishing
Finishing gives us a sense of personal accomplishment and fulfillment. We like ourselves more when we get things done.
Finishing releases energy that procrastination has been holding hostage. More energy is now available to help us move forward in other areas.
Finishing gives our lives greater order. The loose ends aren’t loose anymore. We’re now more organized, whether that’s emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, or financially.
My challenge to you is to set aside some time and write out a list of the things that are unfinished in your life. It could be anything from an incomplete book to an unresolved relationship.
Think about how much energy is being wasted on those things. Do you really want those monkeys on your back? I thought not.
Think about the rewards of finishing. Are they worth the work to you? If so, pick a project and get started.
Will it all go smoothly? No. Will you finish everything exactly as planned? Probably not. Is every project even worth completing? Doubt it. You’ll have to sort through that yourself.
But don’t wait around until you feel motivated to start. That’s the death knell. Just get to work and you’ll begin feeling like working. The simple act of doing creates a snowball effect that leads to greater joy, energy, order, and productivity.