When I was a teenager my mom used to call me The Whirlwind. I’d sit on my favorite part of the couch, cranberry juice next to me, jar of jalapeno or almond stuffed green olives (which are still my favorite), a book, the latest Cosmopolitan, a bead project I was working on, my journal, nail polish and homework strewed around me.
As the Whirlwind, the drinking glass didn’t make it to the dishwasher, rather it stayed on the coffee table, or ended up on the counter in the kitchen. The nail polish made it to the bathroom, but not to its proper container. The one book I was reading turned into a pile of two or three, rather than placed on the bookshelf. The sweater I was wearing made it to my room but not the hamper.
Small actions started but never fully finished.
And of course running the dishwasher and putting the books on the shelf eventually had to happen. But usually not until the sink was filled and the table got cluttered.
Today, I’m proudly not much of a whirlwind but I notice the habit of not completing things still lingers.
I have courses that I’ve signed up for but never finished, I have books left unread, posts unpublished, a draft of a book unedited. These things all started with excitement and hope, all left partially complete after the initial excitement fizzled out.
All those cups that are not put away completely, the emails left in draft, the pieces of junk mail tossed in a pile of others, reinforce an I’ll do it later mentality.
When faced with these small crossroads in our day, it’s important to cultivate completion. Because when it comes down to it, there are bigger crossroads at stake:
- The feelings held back because of how someone might respond.
- The book that never gets written because we’re busy fulfilling someone else’s dream.
- The clients you never work with because it’s challenging to put yourself, and your work, out there.
- The friend or family member who doesn’t know how deeply you appreciate them because there is always tomorrow to let them know.
Whatever the task, big or small, following through all comes down to mindset.
Cultivate a completion mindset (an idea I first heard of from Nicole Antoinette). Choose to close the loop. Choose to bookend projects. Decide to look back on a body of work that’s made up of tasks completed and finished with momentum.
You strengthen the completion muscle by starting small. You do this by fully putting the dish away when you are done with it. You do this by touching an email only once. You do this writing your post then publishing and sharing it with others. You do this by putting your phone in a drawer and not checking it until you’re done writing.
Not everything can hold the same energy as it does when you start. There’s always a natural dip in the creative process. But by trudging through this phase you will feel lighter, feel accomplished, and feel more ready to take on the next task.There’s always gold on the other side of the mundane.Click To Tweet
Moving through the not so fun parts, the not so shiny parts, the uncomfortable parts, is necessary to birth your best work.
Of course, there are times to pivot, to not finish the book or to abandon the course. Your time is precious, your energy is precious and ultimately creative work is about tapping into an energized and alive part of yourself. You will know in your heart when to push through and when to let go.
Cultivating completion strengthens the muscle to say no and the muscle to commit to yes.
This is an act of intuitive guidance and external action.
It’s an act of taking your power back. Being at the whim of doing it later thinking sets you up to wait until external conditions to push you to act. Instead, take control of what you’re working on and how you want to spend your day. Because each day transforms into blocks for a body of work consisting of moments savored, projects finished, and thoughts expressed.
When you start small, you finish big.
Free Guide: How to Access Creative Flow
In this guide you'll learn the 4 principles (and corresponding exercises) to get in a flow state every time you write. You'll also get occasional email updates, blog posts and offerings sent to your inbox. Unsubscribe anytime.