Clean Up Your Messes and Your Incompletes

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Principle #28 is Clean Up Your Messes and Your Incompletes in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”. This isn’t about cleaning your desk or your closets. It’s more about finishing projects and tying up loose ends. These “incompletes” tend to attract your attention and distract you. However, when you clear them up, you also clear your mind so that you can give attention to the important things in your life.

“One of the ways to free up attention units is to free your work and living environments from the mental burden of all this clutter. When you clear out the old, you also make room for something new.”

– Jack Canfield

As an example, when I wrote about Principle #13 (Take Action), I mentioned how I had planted about 50 daffodil bulbs (which bloomed beautifully), but I ran out of energy and about a dozen of them remained in a box in the garage. Each time I saw that box, I was reminded that I needed to plant them and neurons began firing trying to figure out when I would I do so. In essence, this box of unplanted daffodil bulbs was consuming a part of my mind that I might otherwise use for a more creative project.

The same can be said for any unfinished project. For example, if you started studying for the Security+ exam (or any certification exam) with a clear intention of taking and passing it, but never completed it, you may occasionally be reminded of your intention, and start thinking about how you’ll do it.

Do It or Dump It

Often it’s best to either finish a project or abandon it – do it or dump it.

As an example, after writing about the Take Action principle, my daily accountability partner gave me some great advice. She told me I should either plant those daffodil bulbs or throw them away. In essence, she told me not to let that box of daffodils steal my energy. It’s great advice. I planted them that week, and even though I planted them late, they still bloomed.

Take Action - Plant the Flowers

Similarly, my intention this year was to create A+ study materials for the 900 series of exams. It was going slow but I finally decided that I needed to get serious and finish the project. I recently released study materials for the 220-901 exam and study materials for the 220-902 exam should be released soon.

In contrast, I was seriously considering developing study materials for the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CSA+) certification. However, when I saw the objectives I noticed some issues that made this look unnecessarily challenging for me. After trying unsuccessfully to get some clarification, I decided the best option for me was to let it go.

The big benefit of abandoning unfinished projects is that it gives you more energy to work on other projects. As an example, after deciding to abandon the CSA+ certification, I quickly completed two videos to help people pass the Security+ certification.

Change Your Incompletes to Completes

Jack suggests creating a list of your incompletes so that they are clear to you. This list can include things like unfinished work projects, junk drawers that need to be cleaned, certifications to earn, books to read, filing left undone, unanswered messages, incomplete car maintenance, incomplete home maintenance,  payments that need to be mailed, clutter that needs to be cleaned out of the garage or a closet or any room, people you need to visit or call, or anything else that is weighing on your mind.

Once you create the list, look at each item and decide to do it or dump it. If you dump it, cross it off your list and don’t give it another thought. Then devote some time regularly to completing some of the projects on your list. You don’t have to do them all at once, but instead, the goal is to make regular progress.

Clean Up Your Messes

About This Post

I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.

Here’s a link to other musing’s on Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.

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