Unfinished Business and the Clutter of Incomplete Goals

Are you someone who is chasing a goal – with healthy eating, stress, work life balance, or something else – but you can’t seem to stay on track? Are you tired of working really hard and not getting where you want to go – or feeling like it’s never going to work because you tend to get time-crunched or discouraged, or stressed out and don’t do what you planned? One more question – are you tired of starting over? If so, read on.

Setting and Keeping Goals

When I was younger, I used to play tennis. I wasn’t very good at it, but it was fun, and I love the “twack” that the tennis ball makes when you nail your shot. I spent a lot of time practicing my serve and hitting balls across the net. That was my focus – hitting the darn ball. Interestingly, the advice I got about how to improve my game was almost always the same, and it wasn’t about hitting the ball at all. It was about what I did after I hit the ball. See. I would run to the ball, swing, and stop short, watching where the ball went and thinking about where I needed to go next. I moved on too fast and I didn’t finish my swing.

As it turns out, I lost a lot of power and control in my game because I didn’t follow through– complete my swing after making contact with the ball. All that energy I had put into hitting the ball was short-circuited because I didn’t continue moving the racquet and finish my stroke (I also didn’t get that satisfying thwack nearly as often as I wanted).

Busy women sometimes have a similar problem. It can be easy to have so many things going that we move through tasks, or projects, or goals, doing what seems like the essential thing and then quickly focusing on the next item on the to-do list. We “do” or we “start” and then we move on. If something doesn’t work right away, it can be easy to get distracted by something else that looks promising or that is calling for our attention. It’s all too easy to invest in an idea but not in the time or resources to follow through and be successful.

Living with unfinished business is not only inefficient, it makes us feel bad. Unmet goals and unfinished projects are really mental clutter. They create stress, thinking about them can be exhausting, and not completing things tends to make us feel badly about ourselves.

How many incompletes do you have hanging over your head?

Can I ask a personal question? How many new programs or goals have you started or set, but not completed in the first nine months of 2013? How many times have you come up with a plan or idea that seemed fantastic, but then you got so busy, you never even got it into your schedule?

How many books have you purchased but haven’t finished?

How many programs?

How many times have you resolved to do something differently and haven’t followed through?

What’s the toll this unfinished business is taking on you?

If you could complete some unfinished business over the next few months, how would that feel?

Start by making a list of your unfinished business. What promises to yourself have you not kept? What have you not completed that is haunting you, triggering guilt, or draining your energy as it sits on your to-do list? Some of your unfinished business has probably lost its usefulness. Identify the stuff that no longer feels useful and that you have no need to finish. Then let go of it – and any guilt you are harboring along with it.

Now take a look at the rest of the list and ask yourself what it would require and what it would feel like to finish this unfinished business—to follow through with a powerful swing. What do you need to be successful and nail your goal?

Let’s say you purchased a program to help you achieve your goals and you never completed it.

  • Do you need to carve out time or create a workable timeline?
  • Do you need to tweak the program to better fit you?
  • Could you find a mentor to help you tackle it?
  • Is perfectionism or another mindset issue creating a roadblock and if so, could you allow yourself some help with this?
  • Do you need accountability?

Too often we get ourselves started, but we don’t allow ourselves what we need to really unleash our potential and finish in style.

What would help set you up for optimal completion and optimal success? What would change if you completed the unfinished business that is most looming for you? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment and share your thoughts about one thing you’ll be completing in 2013 and what it’s going to take to follow through.

Take good care,




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