I recently heard the song, “Let’s Go All the Way,” by one-hit-wonder Sly Fox and it got me thinking. (Now stay with me: I promise not to go there. 😉 ) One of my strengths, and one I see in many of my clients, is that we have great ideas and enthusiasm to begin projects, but we lose steam and don’t always complete them.
Sometimes, in my excitement about a new idea, I jump on something before I’ve thought it through. And when I improvise and jump, I sometimes start things that I don’t want to finish. No matter the reason — perfectionism, additional clarity, new direction or lack of time — those unfinished projects add stress. Not just because they hang around, but because I’ve got a story about why each one isn’t done.
When I heard, “Let’s Go All the Way,” I had just been thinking about my many, many unfinished projects. I got an idea: what if I started something only if it could be completed all the way? I began experimenting. What would it look like to take something, everything to completion?
First, I took a hard look at all of the things I’d been “tolerating” on my undone list. I removed everything that was a “nice-to-have but a total pipe dream” (i.e. cleaning out the shed in the backyard), and kept only the projects that I really cared about for my work and family life. Oh, that felt good.
The next day, I picked a project that I could start and complete within the time I had that day. Since there are many big tasks on my list, this helped me prioritize and hone in on one. I finished the project all the way. And while it was good to get it done, the biggest thing I noticed was that it felt good to let myself off the hook for all the undone tasks and really enjoy completing something.
Another day, I turned my attention to some unfinished tasks that I had started but hadn’t completed. For many people I know, this can be a major source of stress in their work or home life. I chose a task that had been bugging me for months. And, I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. Hot damn! That felt good. I had more energy for the next unfinished task and I finished it all the way, too.
To my surprise, I realized it wasn’t about getting any one thing done, although, several things did get done. This was about choosing completion over perfection. This was about crossing the “shoulds” off my list. This was about changing the narrative from focusing on the undone to addressing what’s next, thoughtfully and completely.
What have you been working on for a while that you’d like to see completed? Can you take steps (even small ones) to move yourself forward? What if, for one day (or week!), you did everything “all the way?” Could you add some playfulness to your approach? Cue up “Let’s Go All the Way” and get your juices flowing.
If “completion over perfection” strikes a chord with you, drop me a note and tell me about it. I’d love to know what you will complete all the way. And when you’re done, enjoy the space you’ve created.
“Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”
– Robin Sharma