Why Completing? (A blog of sorts)
What is Completing and why does it matter?
People often ask me why do I need to complete?
I view completing as the fabric and essence of our lives. I know it as my life focus.
Without completing, a piece of us is left behind (our attention) with every opened and unhandled email in our in-boxes, every promise made left unfulfilled, and every recurring thought not handled. When we track, review and finish our outstanding loops we release our attention so it can return to now. Doing from the present moment with our full attention is freedom.
I continue to learn daily about completing. I experience it as a spiritual intention requiring a loving discipline:
A daily practice of finishing thoughts, words, and actions with our full awareness and presence
Finishing as a natural extension of being and loving vs a frantic pushing at an unnatural pace
Engaging our cooperation in finishing all the way to the end
Working with focus, with our full attention in the moment, free of distractions
All about timing, intuition, and being sensitively aware of what to do next
I see Completing as the essence of what we are doing here on earth:
Completing one breath
Completing our life on this earth and finishing up all the loose ends
Completing by consciously putting things where they can be easily accessed and used – vs. unconsciously stuffing them to get them out of the way
Completing a smile to a stranger on the street with your full glance
Completing an errand for a friend who is unable to do it on their own
Completing an appreciation for someone we love from whom we have been withholding
Completing the rocking of a child until they are asleep
Completing a job with excellence so we are prepared to go on when the next opportunity is presented
Completing our day as we tuck ourselves in at night letting the day go
Completing a project we loved doing
Completing a report after a long time of procrastinating
Completing our taxes
Completing a dream we have had since we were a child
I watch Completing as a finishing cycle:
A round of golf
The birth of a child after nine months
Moving up a grade each year in school through college and beyond
A bicycle race
A card game
A great book
A conversation with a friend, child, spouse
A thought all the way to the end
I know completing is:
honoring agreements with ourselves and others
having our full attention in this moment
experiencing ourselves as a whole vs a loose end
allowing our actions to match our words
the fabric of being in this world: birth, life, death
answering our heart's calling
following through all the way to the finish line
practicing vs trying to pretend we have to know it already
arriving at the start of something new with all parts of us available to engage
finishing something because you can - not for any other reason
being complete inside ourselves
moving, acting, doing, and participating fully
We can master the feeling of information-overload with conscious choices. Parents raise their children using the technique of making choices. Somehow we forget this important tool as we get older. We get ourselves into spaces of anxiety and over-creation simply because we are not choosing where we are putting our attention.
If you want to know where your attention is, close your eyes and watch where your mind goes. It will most likely go to something you still have to complete. The unfinished stuff keeps us distracted and unfocused. In today’s world so much is competing for our attention (in addition to the incompletes) that we move into reactive mode as it seems more expedient than making conscious choices.
1. cell phone rings - we jump and grab it
2. text messages come in and we immediately drop what we are doing to answer
3. new emails arrive and we automatically start reading often unaware of what we are doing
4. something goes wrong – we react and blame vs. take action to resolve it
We believe and tell ourselves:
- We have to look at and read everything.
- We need to be available to everyone all the time.
- We have to attend every meeting.
- We need to meet or talk about everything vs. try and get answers in writing.
- We will miss something if we don’t say yes to everything.
- Everything needs to be done now – it’s all urgent.
Our expectations of ourselves and others are off the charts, and, we keep moving faster to keep up.
We forget that we can:
- Let the phone go to voice mail and check it later.
- Say no to meetings and events that do not serve us.
- Choose the industry articles that are a must-read and let the rest go.
- Read email 1-3 times a day, top to bottom; rather than all day long.
- Slow down to one at a time.
- Schedule uninterrupted time for ourselves daily.
- Commit only to what we know we can complete.
- Work with focus doing one thing at a time with full attention.
- Unsubscribe from emails that we keep deleting and don’t read.
- Unhook from the interruptions by turning off email notifications, Twitter feed, Instagram, Facebook alert messages etc.
Overwhelm is an add-on. It doesn’t exist on its own. I listen to clients comment as soon as they open email how many emails are in their in-box. I honestly never look to see how many emails are in my in-box. I just open the first one and read one email at a time until…Voila…the box is empty. The habit of checking to see how many emails I have would be defeating and it keeps me from starting. Why look? Just open and read them.
There is more than enough to do. And yet, it is possible to have hundreds of things to do and not feel any overwhelm. The key is staying present and having a system that tracks the actions so they are monitored and completed on time.
If we make ourselves available 24/7 (which seems to be the case for many) then there is no space during the day to complete actions that need our attention. For me the biggest stress factor we create for ourselves is not doing what we say we will do and then either feeling guilty about it, or even worse, not consciously remembering we even agreed to do it.
So keep your agreements in writing. Complete as you go and track what is still in process so that it will get completed. And let go of those things you are never going to do. Having peace of mind is about consciously choosing where you will put your attention in any given moment, what you will complete or not complete, and having concrete boundaries to keep you from over-committing.
It’s all in the choosing and we are the ones who must stay conscious with our focus and our choices.
A Complete Night's Sleep
For many years I have tried to capture the essence of what being “tucked in” at night meant to me as a child. I once gathered stories from friends about how they go to sleep at night and how they were tucked in as children. I was convinced that how we finish the day impacts us in many other ways.My original vision was to write a children’s book. The actual finished product became a guide to tuck yourself in at night. I was touched to hear First Lady Michele Obama speak about their own family ritual of being tucked in at night by Barack, including herself.
As a child I remember the comfort I experienced being tucked in at night with great tenderness and loving by my mother. As an adult I have created a way to tuck myself in with the same sweetness and loving. Consciously taking ourselves to sleep at night is also the best way I know to complete the day and let go of what doesn’t need to be dragged into tomorrow. In my experience completing the day allows our bodies to rest deeply and begin the next day refreshed.
My current ritual of tucking myself in takes about 10-15 minutes. I do it once I have turned off the computer, plugged in my iPhone to charge in another room, brushed my teeth, etc. There are many nights when I think I’m too tired and I will skip this process altogether just like I imagine my mother thinking years ago, honey just tuck yourself in. But my mother would always tuck me in no matter how tired she was. That’s what parents do. So I figure I deserve the same commitment to myself.
In my consulting practice, I work with executives to transform the backlog of unfinished projects and actions into completion. I often hear my clients talk about their challenges with sleeping and waking up in the night worrying with things on their mind. Completing is freedom in my experience and results in clarity, relaxation and peace of mind. I remember a number of years ago, a client exclaiming: “I slept for the first time in a year” after our first day of gathering and processing the incompletes in her life. I know from this and many other client experiences that completing directly impacts our quality of sleep, rest and our wellbeing.
The finishing of today allows for the newness of tomorrow. And it is a way to love and honor who we are. Take time before bed to quiet the mind and review the day; see what worked, what did not, what we might have judged that needs forgiving, what still needs completing and write it down. Include time for out loud or written statements of gratitude and appreciation for yourself and others. I also track progress on habits I am developing for example, consistent exercise. I end my tuck me in process with a blessing before turning out the light.
Completing the day with yourself celebrates you and reminds you that you are worth being tucked in with loving. And what if it is the answer you have been looking for to a good night’s sleep?