How to Follow Through and Finish (What I’m Learning)

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Do you have one of those creative brains that goes at the speed of light? Are you constantly coming up with new ideas for yourself and everyone around you? A business idea, an exercise plan, a new hobby to start, an online course to take, a skill to learn, a project to tackle, another book to read, and on and on.

The books on my nightstand are a good example. I have at least a dozen started, plus a few on my Kindle. And I don’t just have books on my nightstand, they’re inside my nightstand and on top of my dresser in stacks. I’m never sure which is the right one to start or if I’ll wish I had that certain one right at my fingertips. Heaven forbid I have to actually go downstairs to the library to search for a book I’m thinking about; better to have all the books in my room and be able to start it the minute I think about it.

Because of my love of starting things, I have about three different courses started on Lynda.com (to be fair to myself I have finished about five this year) and a watercolor course from an Australian artist that I started in January and haven’t returned to since February.

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I am so close to finishing up my aromatherapy certification, but have a few loose ends to tie up and a bit more to study for the exam. Now would be a good time to sign up for a free four-day Aromatherapy summit next week, right? Um, no, but I did anyway.

Yeah, I love starting things, brainstorming new ideas, trying something new. I love dreaming about the possibility of whatever it is and the excitement that comes with starting. But I don’t admire other people who don’t follow through and I don’t admire myself for dragging my heels about finishing or dropping the ball on a project altogether.

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Follow through, follow through. These two words have been following me around for over month now, like a toddler at my heels, whining for attention. I took a good look at my life and wrote down all the places I need to finish something. Things I need to and actually want to finish! And I asked myself what was my problem? Why don’t I finish things?

Since I’d heard about John Acuff’s book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, I decided to purchase the Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done and find out what he had to say on the topic. I wanted to learn about the causes and the solutions to this huge and common problem.

Here’s what he had to say: perfection causes most of us to quit before we start. If we can’t do it perfectly, we won’t even try. Sounds dumb, right? But it’s true! Like, if I can’t blog every single day of the week, with beautiful pictures and amazing content, I should just give up. But you know that sets us up for failure. Acuff recommends cutting your goal in half. This way the feeling of success of meeting a goal will spur you on to something else.

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Also, we get it into our heads that we have to do all the things. The truth is, if we are going to really focus on finishing one thing, something else might have to take a backseat for a while. Maybe I have to not vacuum as often, or get together with friends less often or miss watching the latest Netflix series if I want to finish up my aromatherapy certification soon.

He also talks about how the lie of having to do everything ourselves instead of asking for help delays the finish. Perhaps I would get the labels printed sooner for the new natural body care products I’m selling if I would accept Alan’s help rather than learning Photoshop now and doing it myself.

Learning what is holding me back and figuring out how to move forward is what I need to follow through and finish. The message and tips within this book were super helpful: I am already making progress on the stuff I was procrastinating over. In the past week, I was able to cross off three items off my Bullet Journal To-Do list. Finish is a short, funny, and super helpful read, so if you’re like me and have a tough time finishing, go get this book!

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

These Days of Christmas

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Dusk is falling on this second day of Christmas. Yesterday and last night, an Arctic chill blew strong and settled in, seeping through the cracks of this old house. Christmas Day was a quiet delight of waking up late, savoring coffee, opening gifts and talking. At noon, my kids joined us, opening all their gifts and giving us theirs.

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My library never felt so full of cheer and purpose as the kids tore through the presents and littered the floor with wrapping paper, sipped egg nog, and laughed and joked as they tried on new sneakers or tried out drum sticks, in Judah’s case.

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Our homemade meal of pasta with fresh marinara sauce, sautéed ginger-garlic broccoli, flounder, garlic bread and pomegranate margaritas (and sparkling grape juice for the kids) provided a simple means of celebration of the day.

Though the wind continued to whip wildly through the trees and blow snow around, the sun shone and gave a sparkly sense of magic to our White Christmas.

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I sit at my desk and feel the frosty nip on nose and fingers. Evening will most likely be quiet, as none of our kids are here. Alan and I will work in separate rooms, he sketching for a massive order of cards, me writing and planning products to make for my business. Today, my certificate of authority to collect sales tax arrived from New York State; I feel even more officially a business owner than when I obtained my DBA.

I ask the questions every purveyor of goods and maker of anything wish they had the answer to: what do people really want? At the few craft shows where I was a vendor this past fall, people wanted flax and lavender pillows and liked lotions, balms and creams. An occasional sale was for a decorative item, but most were for body care items.

So that is what I’ll focus on this next quarter; however, I want a few beautiful and cute things to draw folks to my displays. I want to branch into paper art cards and aromatherapy bracelets as well as beeswax wraps, garlands and hopefully some watercolor cards or small paintings.

I need to brainstorm, make lists, make a schedule and get going. My bullet journal for 2018 should arrive on Friday, but in the meantime I will make use of the extra pages in my 2017 journal. I will be reading a few new-to-me books on creativity, marketing and entrepreneurialism:

The Strategic Storyteller: Content Marketing in the Age of the Educated Consumer by Alexander Jutkowitz

Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive by Dorie Clark, and

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon.


I’ll also be revisiting one of my favorite books on creativity: Todd Henry’s The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. Here are some excerpts from this perennial favorite of mine: In regards to the fear of failure, he says, “A lifetime of mediocrity is a high price to pay for safety. Paranoia undoes greatness. You need to push through those places where it’s easier to gravitate toward comfort instead of aggressively pursuing your best work.” (p. 56) His chapter on energy management opened my eyes to how it affects creativity. “Creative work requires that we stay ahead of our work,” says Henry.

Tomorrow’s ideas are the result of today’s intentions. When you rely on a ‘just-in-time’ workflow, you will quickly find it difficult to do quality work–and you’ll also find yourself lacking the drive to do anything about it…energy management will require the most discipline if we want to change our habits and restructure our life in a healthy way. Striking the right balance when instilling practices around energy management will feel a little uncomfortable, perhaps even painful, at first. But experiencing the results of effective energy management makes these practices worth all the temporary discomfort.” (p.117) Chapter 9 has a weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoint, which has questions to ask oneself in order to help redirect, focus and challenge growth. Just riffling through this book reminds me how much I need to reread it!

As this year slowly winds to an end, I hope you’ll find the time to recast your vision for your life, to redirect and focus your energy and creativity, and to challenge yourself in new ways. Stay tuned this week as I will be announcing the first in a series of book giveaways!

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