From Start to Finish
Every idea, every proposal or project has a beginning, a middle and an ending. There are people who are really good at starting or beginning things. Others, that once they get things going are good at keeping them going, while others still, aren’t adept at beginning things but are great at finishing things. Every one of us is better at one then we are at the others. It’s good to know which one you are so that you can 1) just be curious about how you operate, 2) see how it serves you to perhaps begin things but not to finish them or finish things but not begin things, and 3) get support to get things done.
Where are you strongest? Where are you weaker? I’m very good at beginning projects and I’m pretty good at finishing them too, especially when money is involved, or I’m really invested in the outcome of the project. I’m really bad at finishing things like doing dishes, making my bed, cleaning off my desk – daily stuff that are elemental to everyday life. If I could hire someone to clean my little house every day I would, because I’d love it to be clean – I just don’t want to do it! The fact of the matter is it would only take about fifteen minutes total, every day to make my bed, clean the kitchen and my office. Believe me; I do have 15 minutes to take care of these details, so obviously it’s not about time. What could it be about?
I find that there are other things I don’t finish or complete. I could pay off my credit cards to zero balance, but don’t; I could answer all my emails, cleaning out my email box, but I don’t; I could take care of paper work and bills in a timely manner, but I don’t. What’s that about? In each of these examples I get really close but something stops me from finishing to completion.
So, I took it upon myself to empty out my email box, for one day – just as an experiment. I answered, filed or deleted until there was nothing left to be done! This was such a monumental moment I called my husband to tell him of this incredible feat! He didn’t get it! He didn’t get it until I tied it into all the other places where I don’t complete or finish – like leaving that one last fork or glass in the sink when doing dishes. This one really bugs him, so he got that I was on to something. Why do I consistently leave that one, last detail undone?
So with the practice of keeping my email box empty by responding, filing and deleting as necessary, I took it upon myself to finish all the dishes too – just as an experiment. The next day I awoke feeling emotional and terribly unmotivated. The only way I can explain how I felt is to say that I felt like I had broken up with a boyfriend – just plain yucky, physically and emotionally! I know this emotional sensation was related to finishing these two relatively miniscule projects but how? Why?
Later in the day the explanation came to me as I was being overwhelmingly sad: “I don’t want to complete things because if I complete things that means I’m competent, and if I’m competent that means I can make my own money, and I don’t want to make my own money. I want someone else to make money for me.”
You have to understand that this particular belief was one I created probably before I was 10 years old. I have three masters’ degrees and a Ph.D; I have been facilitating and completing training programs for nine years, and I’ve written and published a book. I’m obviously competent and can obviously complete things. But here is this one little aspect of my life that has, in her own way, been attempting to sabotage success because she wants someone else to make the money and take care of her – as she witnessed for her mother, who didn’t work a day in her life! This little one was holding out for the dream.
I’m fifty-eight years old and still discovering aspects of myself that have agenda’s other than self-empowerment and self-sufficiency. I was gentle with myself all day, giving me time and space to be with the ending of a dream for this little girl. The following day I was pretty much back to my normal self, feeling far less emotional and ready to get back to my routine, which now includes the practice of doing every last dish and being more intentional about emptying out my email box.
I tell you this story because I find life so fascinating. My life, my stories and experiences are just reflections of what so many of you encounter throughout your days, which are filled with beginnings, middles and endings. It’s good to notice where you get stopped while attempting to fulfill a dream, a goal or just a simple project like getting all the dishes done. It’s also good to be with what shows up as you practice beginning, finishing or pushing through that middle part that can be just as challenging.
In my work as a life and corporate coach, I encourage each of my clients to practice elemental steps – like putting every last fork away, or keeping their email box empty for just a short time – maybe for just a few days. Asking them to do this allows them to practice it without having to commit themselves forever. They can then experience their choice-making process from that deeper, more subtle place. Then, they can decide for themselves whether they want to continue the practice or not.
In every recovery program, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) the slogan “One Step at a Time” is so critical. It’s in these very small, seemingly unimportant aspects of our lives that huge nuggets of living show up. Its fun, fascinating, and yes, sometimes challenging to engage in this experiment of living and cultivating awareness about how you do what you do and be how you be. By doing so, you give yourself a splendid opening to know yourself better. In so doing, you come to respect and honor how you got to this very moment of your life, poised for the next opportunity to sore!
I’d love to hear from you with questions or challenges of your own.
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