My wife and I love to watch a cooking competition called The Great British Bake Off. There’s always a great bit when they do the final countdown: “Ten, nine, eight…” and everyone is rushing to put the last little bits on their cake and then “…three, two, one, step away! And they have to step away from their cake, or all their work up to that point will have been in vain.
And that’s the final part of any endeavor. You step away from the cake (or project or list) either because someone has told you to or you’ve decided to and you…are…done!
How do you know when you’re done with something you’ve been avoiding doing?
When you let it go.
In some formal systems of project management they talk about this phase as “meeting your conditions of satisfaction” and “declaring completion” It’s a pre-determined point at which a documented list of every expectation required to meet success in a project has been met and signed off on by every stakeholder.
But that’s always seemed unduly complicated to me when a simpler rule of thumb is this:
You’re done when you say that you’re done.
Today, go through anything left on your list and decide which items you’re willing to let go and be done with for now. Being done with something isn’t the same as avoiding it. It’s simply the decision to take something off your plate, at least for now, so you can get on with what’s new and fresh.
By way of example, I spent years thinking that I needed to finish every book I started reading and watch every movie I started until the end. But then one day it dawned on me that there are more books and movies already in existence than I will ever be able to watch, not even taking into account the fact that new ones are coming into the world every single day. So to stubbornly make myself finish everything I started was less of a positive character trait than a kind of self-imposed torture device.
Please understand, you don’t have to take anything off your list until you’re ready. But make no mistake – you get to decide when you’re ready – no one else. And most people I know feel a delicious sense of relief when they finally let themselves off the hook for something they have no intention of getting done in the first place…
Have fun, learn heaps, and happy completion!