Always finish what needs to be done because unfinished business can be very costly

Thought and action are the angles of freedom.

I once attended a short seminar on wellness. Everything that the panelists talked about was good but not new information to me, as it was on the now-a-days famous talk on causes of modern day lifestyle diseases—which went on and on, and my attention slowly drifted into wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, not that I do not have any care for what causes modern day lifestyle diseases, but it was a very hot and humid afternoon, and so my concentration level was low.

But this was until I heard “When you fail to deal with issues in life, your health will be affected because unfinished business causes stress”, said one of the speakers.

Bingo! I get it now. It is so true that some level of stress in life is brought by unfinished business. In my interpretation, unfinished business is what you know should be done—but you have not done. Just think about it for a few seconds.

How many times have you felt exhausted just by thinking about the report you have not started working on, the broken window that you have not fixed, the spare key for your car that you misplace six months ago and have not made a replacement, or the loan repayment you have not finished paying because of not sticking to the schedule. These are only a few examples. (Right now I am facing a situation whereby I need to write an article by tomorrow, on pastoralists’ behavior trends which limit market actors from trading in arid lands livestock markets… I feel like banging my head against something and screaming on top of my voice because I have misplaced my notes. So this is unfinished business that is costly, because it is causing me some anxiety, and consequently, some level of stress.)

Going back to the speaker, he provided some recommendations on how to deal with unfinished business in our lives. They were as follows:

  • Set a personal deadline. This will help you to organize your schedule and think through what you will need in order to undertake the task
  • Plan how the task will be implemented. Make time to list the things you will need to do to enable you to undertake the task. For example, if I need to fix the broken window, I would list the following: get contact of a handyman and call him by the 1st; get quotation for window replacement and labor fee; and create time on Saturday the 3rd when I will be home, so that the handyman can fix the window
  • Press on. This simply means that you need to stay focused on what requires to be done, especially if you or others are depending on you to have the task implemented and finalized
  • Reward yourself. But only works for daunting tasks, and you can reward yourself with anything. You know yourself better than anyone does. For me, white chocolates work. So, I buy a bar and keep it in the fridge, and only eat it after I have finalized a daunting task, because all the time I have been imagining how it will taste in my mouth—sweet, smooth, creamy, dreamy and so-so good!

In addition to this, I keep a small note book where I make a list of all the things—not work related, but for personal growth—that I need to do every week. Simple things like call my brother in London, plan destination for out of town trip during May’s long weekend, go to the post office, pay electricity bill, take car for service, and so on. Every page represents one week’s activities, and sometimes I fill in details for upcoming weeks in advance. So for example, if we are in April, I fill in details for the second week of May. This practice has greatly liberated my life, and I feel like I am in control of things that are happening around me, because I am always aware of the next things I need to do. For every accomplished task, I put a big tick next to it. Whatever I do not finalize in time, I put a big star against it—and ensure that the task is finished within the shortest time possible.

These are simple steps that will help you to not only plan your life, but to always finish what needs to be done, because as you know, unfinished business can be very costly.