I made a commitment to myself about two years ago to finish things I begin.
Now, approximately two years later, that commitment has shifted, and in a good way.
Two years ago I realized I was beginning a lot of things and then not finishing them. Once I noticed that about myself, it began showing up everywhere.
I would partially do the dishes, partially put away the laundry, and I never turned in a work assignment, even though I had completed it.
Even in yoga I realized I wasn’t breathing completely, and I would leave the very endings to books unread. I hadn’t taken my GRE exam, and I was having internal guilt about not having taken it yet, and doing nothing about completing the last semester of my graduate degree.
Since then, I have taken so many steps to completion, and it has felt really great.
I took the GRE over a year ago and got the score I needed to get admitted back into my program at school. I didn’t finish applying for my degree, but I did pump some action into my two companies: Red Cheetah Yoga and Cheetah Grounds, and have been reaping the benefits of those two endeavors.
I finished writing my first book, started drafts for two more, and helped my boyfriend redo our entire home (which is still in the process of being completed. We work on it every day!).
I started a unicorn mala collection which turned out so amazing I can’t believe I’m the one who made them, and I have been better about keeping promises and commitments, which has provided me with some of the best friendships I have had in years in both my CrossFit and yoga communities I am involved in.
And one of the most important things I have realized since I committed to finishing things I start is this: sometimes it’s ok to not finish things. Especially if it’s a book that ended up being not so great.
Completing books I have started is one of the best decisions I have made in the last two years. I still recall the conversation I had with an old friend at lunch one day. We were chatting, and, being very well read, she used a word that I should have known, but couldn’t remember what it meant. The word was “attrition”. I was so internally embarrassed, and I know she picked up on how I felt during the conversation, and she probably detected that it was because I didn’t know what the word meant. This friend, who I actually haven’t spoken to since this conversation, is the one who got me reading again. She had admitted to me once that not many people knew that she read at least five books at one time, something I greatly admired because I was taught growing up by my family members to not start another book until I finished the current one I was reading. This left a lot of partially-finished books on my shelf. After having this simple conversation with my friend over lunch in Miami, I realized it was okay to read as many books and articles as I wanted to; I started reading more than one book at a time, sort of like how I used to study in high school and college (one or two chapters in one book, one or two in another, one article, a chapter in another book, and so on) and not only did I enjoy reading more, but I realized I got more out of them.
Through this reading style, I learned that I get bored from reading one style of writing for too many words/chapters/pages. It doesn’t matter how much I love the author’s writing, I just suffer from reading ennui and my eyes and brain get tired. Maybe the writing gets predictable for me? Who knows. But all I know is that like my meals at restaurants and like Saturday night activities and CrossFit workouts, I need to switch it up otherwise I get bored.
And that’s when I realized that when it comes to books that I really can’t get into after a couple chapters, it’s ok to let them go. Not every book is going to make the cut. Not every book is going to have something to contribute to my life, no matter how highly acclaimed it comes from any reliable source.
This practice is something great I have applied to a lot of things in my life. It began with the books I was reading (the delete option on my kindle is so wonderful for this) and then it leaked into extra things in my closet I was holding on to and didn’t need. Then extra things all over my house. Then it was things we were holding on to in our backyard (we began our remodel with the outside of our house-we threw away so much stuff that was just taking up dusty space!!) and, finally, this practice landed at the level of not just my thoughts and emotions, but Al’s too.
Clearing away things takes practice. Relentless, wonderful, and committed practice. It is truly something I have come to accept with love and tenderness in my life, because there is nothing greater than creating more space in my life like throwing away things that do not serve.
The fact that certain books don’t do it for me says nothing about those writers’ abilities or the stories they have created. It just means they aren’t a right fit for me. Like when negative people show up in my life to try to make me feel bad and lower my vibration to meet theirs, it’s becoming easier and easier to let those people go so I can walk a clearer and lighter path.
As soon as I let the negative people go, the positive ones show up.
As soon as I let the boring books go, the interesting and educational and fun ones show up.
It’s not worth hanging on to a book because I “should” read it.
I was told I “had” to read a book on getting more Instagram followers. One-third of the way through, I felt like I had figured out the entire book, and when I checked the author’s Instagram account, I had more followers than he did. What was his book serving me for?
I took what I could from it, and even realized some of the practices he promulgated were kind of annoying not only for me, but probably to other people, too, and I chucked it. I now do with my Instagram what I want and how I feel, and it has moved me forward in better and more positive ways. Instagram to me is just fun and a great way to connect with the people who share the same values with the Cheetah companies, and I want to keep it that way. It doesn’t bother me if I lose twenty people in a day, what matters is the people who choose to stick around, just like in real, non-cyber life.
So, make space in life to finish the things that mean something to you. Read how you want to read, read as much as you want to read, finish the most fun books, and set aside the books that make you feel complete before you get to The End.
Since I re-committed to reading again, my breathing has gotten more complete in my yoga practice, I have dedicated myself more to my accessory work at CrossFit Soul, and I have been more successful at getting my freestanding handstand and finally getting a bar muscle up.
Getting complete in work is a satisfying thing.
Being honest with yourself when your work isn’t serving you and aborting your mission can be just as powerful.
Get quiet inside and tune in to your intuition so you know exactly what you should stick with, and what you should give up.
Here’s to a new year of getting complete with the things that move you forward, and moving forward more powerfully by giving up the things whose dead weight hold you down.