I've come to some conclusions this past week as I've been pondering the idea of finishing. The first is that I'm never going to finish everything and that's OK. I have some craft projects that I started years ago that I work on occasionally as the mood strikes. For those things the benefit of them is the process and not the product. They can each live in their bag waiting for me to pull them out... or not. If I finish them, great. If not, then someday my poor children will have to decide what to do with them. (In an effort to relieve any future guilt, I hereby give my children permission to GET RID of any of my unfinished projects. You do not need to keep them. So there.)
Second, I realized my angst about not finishing things was really a result of my horrible habit of procrastination. I have a tendency to either put off what needs to be done or start something that needs to be done, but only do the joy halfway. These aren't huge, life-changing projects, but more mundane things such as cleaning up the kitchen or taking care of bills. I will start doing one of these jobs, but tend not to finish it completely... I leave the dirty pan on the stove because I don't feel like cleaning it... I throw the bills in a pile on my desk because putting them in their proper folder seems like too much work... I carry something halfway to its destination instead of going ten more feet to actually put it away. As I've been making this the focus of my past week, I've been forcing myself to finish each job completely.
And you know what? Life (at least to me) feels a little more under control for very little more work. In fact, in the long run, it has probably saved me time since when it's time to begin something I can do it right away instead of finishing what I had left undone earlier. I don't have extra clutter in brain trying to remember what I was going to come back too. And I don't have nagging worries that I'm going to lose or forget something. This is particularly true in the realm of bills and important papers on my desk.
One technique I have used to encourage myself to just go ahead and finish something completely is to time myself. (I have to admit I stole this from Flylady years ago.) I look at the clock and make a note of how long a dreaded task actually takes. What I found (and it's not really a surprise) is that those dreaded parts of a job really don't take all that long. Putting those bills away immediately? A matter of seconds. Making the bed? Three minutes. Washing that yucky pan I was avoiding? Not more than 5 minutes. Knowing the actual time something takes makes it a lot more difficult for me to procrastinate. Because really, the peace of mind I gain from knowing I'm not going to lose a bill far, far outweighs the few seconds it takes to put them away correctly.
My last thought is that I need to acknowledge that I do finish things. I finish reading large amounts of books. I finish writing assignments by their deadlines. I teach my children regularly, and while that job can never be truly finished, I work on it diligently over the course of time. Sometimes you just have to stop and remind yourself that you're not doing too badly.
On a completely unrelated note: Flying fish are very cool. We have been learning about all the creatures which the men on the Kon Tiki came across on their voyage across the ocean. Today was the day to learn about flying fish, so we read about them, looked at pictures, drew them, and watched some videos. Our favorite was this one of flying fish in slow motion.