“Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started,” said David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.
When I read this I was immediately struck by how true this is for me. Particularly all the little unfinished things that I carry around in my head - like the email conversations I need to complete, the friend I promised to phone to arrange a get together, tidying a little bit of my office space every day … I could go on for a while! Then there are the big things that I still need to complete, like making the decision to invest, or not, in a training program, completing client documentation for a project, finishing the redesign of my website, completing my financials for the year, and, and, and.
There is also the stuff that I hold onto that I think I should have done or should still do. I remember doing a very powerful exercise in December 2012 – I was feeling exhausted at the end of the year and stressed about a lot of things. I sat down with a brand new A4 notebook and wrote down everything I could think of that I thought I should do in my personal life, work life, around the house, for the family, for the community – the entire to-do list that I was carrying around in my head. Once it was out of my head and ‘out there’ on several full pages I felt lighter and more energised. Next, I went through each item and decided on a timeframe – this year, review next year, 3-5 years, probably never. I remember the relief and the surge of energy I felt at the end of that exercise. It was as if the entire burden of my life had been lifted off my shoulders.
To the list of tasks and projects you have started and not finished you can also add all the unresolved issues you carry around. Broken promises, changed agreements, unresolved arguments, incomplete relationships, postponements, unfulfilled dreams ... I am a great procrastinator. My habit is to wait for the perfect conditions - right time of the day when I am in the right mood with the right amount of energy - in order to be in action. With those requirements you can imagine how many opportunities I have in a day to create unfinished business and unresolved issues!
The burden of unfinished stuff
As you go through the process of living your life you are constantly creating incompletions – unfinished stuff. Each one of these, big and little, incompletions is like adding a potato into a rucksack on your back. It requires energy and space to keep them in place. To give an example, think of a time when you had an unresolved issue in one of your relationships and you needed to have a difficult conversation with that person. Remember that heavy feeling you carried around while waiting for the opportunity to chat. As long as you waited you had to carry that weight around with you and it seemed to get heavier every day. Then remember the relief, the lightness, the energy released as soon as you had the conversation?
We usually don’t notice the weight of every potato when we add it to the rucksack we carry around. Each day, week, month, year, decade it gets heavier as the process of living life continues in an endless stream to create more incompletions, more baggage, and bigger burdens. No wonder we feel exhausted!
How do we recognise incompletions? Anything that is incomplete shows up in your awareness. That constant stream of thoughts and feelings that distract you from being present and focused on the task at hand, keeps you from falling asleep or having a good night’s rest. Right now I notice the stream in my mind: the pool pump issue I need to resolve … I’m feeling hungry … the project documentation … how’s my website development progressing … when should I have my next cup of tea … I’m hungry … I’m anxious about my cash flow and generating enough business for next months …
Take a moment to sit still and notice the constant jabbering that is streaming through your head right now. Those are all your current incompletions! How do you know if something is complete? It simply does NOT show up in your awareness. You still have the memory and can access it through recall, however, it is not cluttering up and creating noise in your headspace, or draining your energy.
How to lighten your load
Here is a simple exercise you can do at the end of every day to create completion with all the incompletions you are carrying around for this day:
1. Sit down with a notepad and pen and ask yourself “what can I acknowledge, what can I let go of and what decisions can I make to be complete with this day?”
Example from above:
- I acknowledge that: I am feeling hungry; I did eat a light breakfast 3 hours ago; I will not starve to death today; I am wanting a distraction from writing as I find it hard work
- I let go resisting being in action of writing
- I decide to be 100% focused on completing this article and to make myself a delicious cup of tea and a light snack as soon as I have finished writing
2. Write down everything that comes up in response to those questions; and ask them again and again until you feel you have lightened the load and there is stillness and space.
Acknowledge what you have done, let go what no longer serves you and make powerful decisions to complete what you have started – each of these actions is like taking a potato out of the rucksack on your back and you will feel lighter and more energised.
The Energy & Vitality Workshop Series
Michele Hinds and The Energy & Vitality Series present the Complete CREATE Series 2015.
This is a series of 5 full-day workshops spanning the entire year - one workshop each quarter - to guide, direct and hold focus on your vision. In so doing, you get into the habit of completing and creating, completing and creating, inhaling and exhaling to get you back into the natural flow, rhythm and harmony with life.
Next workshop: Complete 2014 CREATE 2015 24 January 2015 8:30am-3:30pm R900
This powerful workshop provides the space for you to create completion with everything you have and have not achieved in 2014. Release the energy tied up in the baggage you've accumulated so that you can feel energised and inspired! With 2014 COMPLETE you can step onto a clean slate and CREATE your vision, goals and intentions for 2015.
For more information and to register email firstname.lastname@example.org
Create 2015 as your best year ever!