Finished or complete?

A powerful and important difference

Whether you're finished or not is determined by facts. Whether you're complete or not is determined by your declaration (by your saying so).

Finished is nice. But complete is awesome! Working together they make a great team. Clarity between these two distinctions will give you immense power and peace in your life.

My mother's cousin was finished, but she was not complete

In a coaching call several years ago, Jenny (we'll call her that), said she was wanting to organize her attic. However, she couldn't get herself to start and she didn't know what was holding her back.

"What might you be trying to do for yourself by not organizing your attic?" I asked. After a bit of probing, we found the benefit. If she started poking around in her attic, she knew she would discover some items that would bring back painful memories of her relationship with her ex-husband and the bitter divorce she endured twenty years earlier.

Jenny was finished with her husband and her divorce (almost twenty years had passed), but she was not complete. Her past was still dragging her back.

I was complete, but I was not finished

It was 6.30am on a Tuesday morning in early November of 1996 that I met my good friend Jeff Newman at the base of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. Once a week we climbed Camelback together as we talked about life. Our conversations always flowed. 

This morning was different. I told Jeff that I was confused about my relationship with my wife Yuko (he knew her fairly well; he had been the best man at our wedding on March 20 of 1993). Yuko and I had gone through a lot, including a fair amount of relationship counseling. I asked Jeff to listen as I shared all my different thoughts and feelings, while also asking me any questions that he thought might be helpful. 

Jeff was masterful both as a listener and at asking insightful questions. Less than an hour and half later, after we'd climbed up and down Camelback, my mind (and feelings) were crystal clear. I was going to separate from Yuko and get a divorce. 

From that moment I was complete with Yuko (in our roles of being husband and wife). Yes, much had to be done. Much had to be worked out with her. That took time. But I had declared myself complete in my relationship with her as a husband. I was complete, but far from finished.

Because I was complete, neither blaming her (I know she did her best) nor myself, I made a commitment to myself to create a "great separation and divorce." In the end it turned out even better than I thought it would. Not only was the completion great (as declared/decided upon on that Tuesday morning) but also we did an excellent job of getting our separation and divorce finished, especially because I was complete about it from the beginning.

The issue of "being finished" or "being complete" is everywhere, often expressed in "smaller" issues

Getting interrupted

You planned your day and you set aside two hours to do some yard work. Half way through the yard work, you get a call from a client who needs something right away. You decide that dropping the yard work for now is the best choice. Yet a part of you feels bad, not only because you broke with your plan, but also because you feel "incomplete" with the yard work.

If you've developed some facility in putting process first, then you know that the flow of the process is more important than any particular result. That's why, if you've developed the ability to declare something complete (doing the yard work as complete for now), while making a note to schedule it at another time, then you can both direct your life and "go with the flow" in a dance that's fun and easy.

Setting up a prudent schedule

Even if you've gotten beyond the "fantasy list" method of planning your day, you may still have difficulty in setting up your day so that you can look back after the day is over and say to yourself, "I got everything done plus some!"

One major reason for this difficulty is that some parts (projects, activities, routines, or tasks) end up taking more time than anticipated. Consequently, one or more other parts you were going to do get pushed aside. 

An effective way to avoid this is by scheduling so that, for any part that has a chance of taking longer than its maximum "under promised" time, is specified like this, "I will finish this part or spend X minutes on it, whichever comes first." X can be 15 minutes, 45 minutes, or whatever you think will either be enough time to get it finished or the maximum amount of time you're willing to spend on it given the other parts you're putting into your day. As a result, you either finish the part in X minutes or less, often giving you some extra buffer time in your day, or you spend X minutes on the part (knowing that you'll finish it another day) and you're still able to get all the other scheduled parts done for the day.

This method requires that you master the distinctions of "finished" and "complete."

In those circumstances where you don't finish a part, no problem! You're happy and complete with that part for the day, knowing that you will schedule the continuation of it on another day.

You get "behind on things"...

We all experienced circumstances where we get "behind on things" and we "need to catch up."

Maybe you're just back from a holiday. Maybe you woke up to a new day, discovering that you've recovered from the stomach flu that put you out of commission for two days. Maybe your Now has decided that she or he has had enough "doing whatever I damn well please," ignoring almost everything on your schedule for three days and is now willing to cooperate with your Next to "do what needs to be done and catch up with things."

Whatever the reasons, you now feel you "need to make up for what you didn't do."

This belief, this thought, leaves you incomplete with your past because you haven't finished all those things you didn't do (that you "should have done"). 

Yes, you may choose to plan your days somewhat differently than you would have if the interruption had not occurred. But the whole idea of "being behind" or "having to catch up" or "making up for what you didn't do" is disempowering and enervating.

Using the power of declaration, you can complete all the past. You start totally fresh, as if you were the new CEO of whoever's life you just assumed responsibility for.

Sometimes you will never finish it

I never finished college. But I was complete about it once I decided to quit. For whatever reasons, you may decide to not finish something you started. If you refine the power to get complete about it quickly through declaration (you're complete because you say you are!), then you can move on with freedom, ease, and power.

Shoulds and should nots will get in your way

Shoulds don't like the idea of freedom that the declaration of completion will give you. That power has the strength to loosen and unlock the deadbolts and handcuffs that your shoulds and should nots use to keep you incarcerated. 

See Undoing shoulds.

Your life as a buffet

To fully love and take advantage of the fact that your life continuously presents you with an unending 

smorgasbord of parts to express yourself through, painting with a pallet of standard themes and colors or splotches here and there and as you wish, requires the full facility in using the distinctions of "finished" and "complete." 

Finishing things is good. Being complete with things is great. Together they make a life.