The LOVE and POWER of Completion
Completion is one of my LOVES! I assert that getting complete provides a very real source of power and boost of energy. To have a life that you LOVE it’s wildly helpful to have energy and power. It can also provide the opportunity for something new to be created. While sometimes getting complete can be sad or mean the ending of something, there is still power available in completing – a project, a task, an event, a relationship, or an unfilled dream or promise. Complete, as a verb, is defined by the dictionary as to finish making or doing, or to make (something) whole or perfect. As such then, completion is simply the act of finishing something. This blog post is about three topics: getting complete, completion lists, and Master Lists, which are all things that I have been teased about since my college days. Unfazed about all the kidding and ribbing, and there has been a whole lot of that, I do the things that give me a life that I love.
It seems to me that we have some level of cultural agreement that it is acceptable to leave things unfinished, incomplete, or undone. And there’s some psychology to why people start things and don’t finish them. While I’m a fan of emotional quotient or emotional intelligence and psychology in general, this post is not on the psychology of getting complete – it’s about the power, results, and actions to move yourself with intention to finishing more things or relationships. For now, just trust me that overall, or in general, finishing what you start will give you power, freedom, a sense of accomplishment, and possibly happiness and excitement depending on what you are finishing.
Before I get into completion lists, I will briefly mention completion as it relates to relationships even though this is a topic for a future blog post, it is significant enough to merit a paragraph.
Being complete in a relationship, to me, is when you have said what you have to say and nothing is left unsaid. In some cases, getting complete in a relationship means the ending of the relationship. It’s been my experience when I get complete in a relationship and it’s clear that the relationship is not going to continue, I have a profound sense of peace. Often times relationships can be tricky, problematic, or troublesome, and we just don’t have the skills to clear the air, to say what needs to be said, or otherwise clean it up. I assert that walking around with relationships that are incomplete is not a powerful place to be. I believe in saying what needs to be said at the risk of losing a friendship, or having people not like me. I already know that plenty of people don’t like me. I’m not in life to win a popularity contest. I’m in my life to have the most fulfilling and joyous life that I can. I’m in my life to contribute to others – to help make the world a better place, to make a difference. Caring what people think of me doesn’t serve me or my purpose in life. So, you might have to brush up on some interpersonal skills to start completing relationships in your life – subject for a future post – but I would highly recommend that you at least start thinking about the status of your relationships as we will get to the power of cleaning up relationships soon enough. Just not in this post.
For me, a completion list is a catch-all for anything and everything that is incomplete, unfinished, needs work, or is an intention that has never been executed. We all have those “good intentions” that we never seem to get around to. In 1998, after a move to Buffalo, New York, my completion list had something like 57 or 58 tasks, projects, and things to finish many of them related to the move, unpacking, getting organized, or home improvement projects. I use my completion list as a place holder for anything that calls to me to be done. It matters not how many items you have on your list; what matters is that you make a list and then eventually review your list. Here is an example from my life of how having this practice or habit changed my life in an unexpected way.
In January 2009, when I wrote up (typed up actually) my completion list for the year, I had 26 items listed. Number one on the list was to have Diane Gregor over for coffee. Diane and I had gotten to know each other from working to bring Landmark Education classes to the Buffalo area. We worked well together however we just didn’t know each other well. We were teammates working on a group project who liked each other well enough. When I called her up to say that she had made my completion list, she just laughed and asked what that meant. I explained to her my completion list process and system, and that she was on my list to have her over for coffee. With three little children, it was easier for me to have her over than get out to meet her. She happily agreed and we scheduled her to come over. Over the ensuing months, we became good friends. When Diane later became sick, I was honored to be in her inner circle of friends to come to her house to help out until she passed away. For me, caring for someone who is ill, or otherwise struggling is of the highest of honors and a real privilege. It’s one of the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy in the Catholic faith – to visit the sick. Had I not been an avid list maker, a person clear about what I am up to, a person who infuses my life with fun and joy, a person who acts upon good intentions, I would have missed out on getting to know a beautiful soul and having Diane as a good friend. Someone who I still miss and cry about on occasion – like in thinking about her for this post.
Just making a completion list, which I typically do in either very late December or early January serves as a PAUSE. In fact, making any list acts as a PAUSE button for life. It’s a chance to contemplate how your life is going. It’s the moment to assess, evaluate, prioritize, reflect on how you want your life to go, what you want to accomplish, who you want to be with, and all kinds of things. List making is extremely powerful if you want to be in control of how your life goes and having more LOVE – in my opinion. You are welcome to have a dissenting or different opinion. For myself, I have proven over and over through the years that having and making lists is a practice or habit that helps me have more fun, accomplish more in less time, and have my life moving in the direction I SAY it should be going in as opposed to drifting aimlessly along or letting life happen to me.
The other thing that making lists does is that it provides a visual representation of the marking of time, and of accomplishments. It’s not about how many items you put on your completion list. It’s about you stopping and pausing to consider what is unfinished, what either needs to be or has to be done. It’s about taking control of your future and your time. While I almost always type up my completion list – it’s really irrelevant how your completion list is done. It just matters that you have a place to catch not only the things that have to get done, but also your dreams and wishes. Clearly, I didn’t have to put Diane Gregor on my completion list, yet I wanted to get to know her better. I didn’t want another year to pass by where we would each say to each other, we should get together sometime.
This is the first year in forever that I did not make a completion list! The reason that I did not do one this year was because I was actively engaged in a major downsizing move and I was pretty much getting rid of most of my belongings keeping very little. My only priorities were getting rid of things and stuff, finding a new place to live, and moving. In preparing for this post, I began to think about what would go on my completion list for the balance of the year IF I were to write one up. Pretty much nothing. The two things that are incomplete is organizing my pictures and dealing with old papers, which I did start earlier this year and stopped when I decided that it was not a priority. It was simply not important enough for me to complete – at least not this year.
After my April move, I coined the phrase “Summer of Fun” to commemorate having fun after a grueling few months. As the summer wore on, I changed the slogan from “Summer of Fun” to “Summer of Love”, which ultimately changed to “Year of Love” because I simply was not going to get to do everything I wanted before the summer ended. So, after a very stressful period in life, it is frequently appropriate to take a moment, or the rest of the year in my case, to do what Stephen Covey called “sharpening the saw” in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplebook. As I mentioned in a previous post, the newer lingo for this is “Level Up”, which means reward yourself in whatever form that takes.
While I don’t have a completion list for the year, I am actively using the “Master List” and I will move onto that even if the distinction between the two is not clear to you at this point.
When I go to re-write my Master List I have feelings of excitement, happiness, anticipation, and introspection. I love the opportunity to reassess, re-evaluate, prioritize and triage the things that I have to, want to, or need to get done. When I have a completion list for the year, I will select the most important items to go onto my Master List. The process is fairly simple. I first draft on scrap paper the things that I think merit my time. Then I will sleep on it and often think about it for a few days. After all, this list is what will be driving my weekly lists for the coming weeks or month. Once I have thought about the draft of my Master List, I will write up the actual or real Master List. I do this on oversize paper because it works for me. It doesn’t matter what form you use to create a Master List as long as you have one – if you are going to ramp up your game and take this on as a practice or habit.
In the past I have written up my Master Lists with a more chronological approach to when things needed to be completed. I try to put the most important items in the first few numbered items. Since I do my Master List on oversized paper, when new tasks pop up, I will write them in the margins – adding them to the list in a very informal and messy kind of way. I do a new Master List when the mood strikes. Sometimes I will have accomplished 25% or upwards of 65% before I make a new list. It sometimes depends on how messy the list gets. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You will figure it out as you go.
I am a huge believer in a reward system to bring levity and joy to this process or habit. I level up my Master List by including small or not so small rewards, which I write into my Master List. For example, I love water color painting so this is a great reward or level up for me. I include some time for painting as well as special road trips, or other things that are rewarding to me. I am of the opinion that for beginners this is an absolute must. One year my reward for doing a ton of projects was to make matching dresses for my daughter and I. It was a great level up for the self-discipline of completing many projects and tasks.
If you have read this far, you might be thinking that I am out of my mind. You might be thinking does she really do this? Yes, I have friends from college who can attest that I have been roasted in college for doing exactly this. Like Nike says – Just Do It! My promise to you is that if you take on this practice or habit, you will, over the course of time, become clearer about what is important to you, how you are spending your time, gain skills in prioritizing what has to get done, and gain greater control and power over your life. All of that should help you move towards doing what you love and having a life that you love. Let me know if you have any questions or what your comments are! Love you!
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