Tag Archives: finishing

the fear outlasts the fix

In the past month we’ve replaced two tires and repaired two other tires. The repaired tires had slow leaks. Every few days I had to pump them up. I finally bought a tire inflater to make that process easy. For $20. Fixing the tires cost $10 for one, nothing for the other. Of the two tires replaced, one had a broken steel belt which caused the steering wheel to shake as we drove.

There are lessons about the financial cost of procrastination here. I know that. But that’s not what I want to write about.

Each time I walk to the car or van now, I have a cringing fear that a tire will be flat, that the steering will still shake. The car is fixed, my fear is not. The fear came because I didn’t solve the problem. I avoided the time it would take to go to the shop. I avoided the money I was sure we would spend. And in the avoidance, I wove fear and frustration into my driving experience.

From the response last week to my post about finishing things before the end of the year, others apparently share this skill of training myself to fear what could easily be fixed. It’s worth mentioning in this expanded discussion for two reasons.

1. It’s worth considering how well we teach ourselves to fear.

2. It’s worth remembering that we can finish things at the beginning of the year, not just the end.

Happy first Monday of the new year. Fix something.


This year, I’m writing about following Jesus in plain words at 300wordsaday.com.  Just so you know.


leave it in 2008

It’s been bugging you for months now. You got everything done except for that last piece.

Maybe it’s writing the thank you.

Maybe it’s putting the project in the mail.

Maybe it’s putting the knobs on the door.

Maybe it’s throwing the scraps away.

Maybe it’s deciding that it isn’t worth finishing.

Maybe it’s the last coat of paint (or varnish).

Maybe it’s returning the book.

Maybe it’s admitting that she was right and restoring the relationship.

Maybe it’s changing the lightbulb.

Maybe it’s hanging the picture.

Maybe it’s walking back in.

You know what it is. It’s been bugging you for months.

Here’s what’s funny: it will take 15 minutes at the most to finish at least one project in 2008.

So in the almost three days that are left in 2008, spend fifteen minutes to finish that one thing. On Thursday, when you look back at the year, you’ll be able to say that for all the chaos, all the change, all the ups and downs and annoyances and celebrations, at least you got ________done.

And that can be a very good feeling.

So write it down. Now. And then go do it.

And then tell us about it.

(Me? the knobs. Time to put the knobs on the closet doors in the living room and finish a three year long project. You can read about it here.)

cleaning up the list

There is paint on my hands as I type.

It’s dry. Don’t worry about the keyboard.

I’m waiting for primer to dry on a couple of folding doors. I trimmed them today and primed them. After I finish writing, I’ll go back out and prime the edges.

This isn’t big news. It’s a typical Saturday project.

The news is that we bought the doors three or four years ago. We bought them because the current doors keep coming off the track. The new doors have been in the garage, part of the accumulation of stuff that has kept it a one-car garage (or at times, a no car garage). They were not on my list for today. They wre barely on the list of projects that I know I need to get to. We even considered giving the doors to Habitat for Humanity earlier this year. But we didn’t.

During the past few months I’ve been working on working.

I’ve been working on organizing the garage. I’ve been working on some projects around our house (deck, bathroom painting, auto body repair). I’ve been working on throwing things away. I’ve been working on finishing.

That’s probably the most important word in all this. Finishing. And for me that means facing down the obstacles that I put in my own way.

I could give you a thousand examples of what that means. I will give you one.

When we bought the folding doors I’m working on, we bought them for an opening that I assumed was a standard. 48″. The doors are called 24″ which means that they are 23.5″. Which means that in a 48″ opening they have a bit of room to open. When we got home, I discovered that the opening is 47″. The doors would fit, I suppose, but only if you were making a wall rather than a door.

I have spent the past 3 or 4 years afraid of making a crooked cut on the doors.

Today I decided to cut the doors. I screwed a straightedge to the back of the doors where holes wouldn’t show. I made the cut. It turned out great. I’m now painting. By the end of November (depending on the rest of our schedule here), the project will be done.

There are a thousand projects on my list. I will never get them all done. Many of them don’t need to be done. But the current doors come off the track as often today as they did four years ago. And today I decided that I could finish this project. There are still 999. But rather than thinking about them all and doing, today I decided to do one.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m going back to painting.


Just so you know, another project I started this week (Tuesday) is reading through the Bible. Lots of people have done it. Lots of people do it every year. I’m not lots of people. I’m not that structured. So I’m reading it through before the end of the year. Besides, if it’s a love letter, or a story, I have a hard time with the bit a day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

finish something

As you know if you’ve been reading here regularly, I took on the project of changing the boards on our deck. A couple weeks ago, I talked about the challenge of finishing.

It is difficult for me to take a project all the way to the end. I get distracted. I get tense. I get anxious to start something else.

I am pleased to report, however, that on Saturday, October 11, I put the last screw into the deck. Nearly 1000 screws. Parts of several evenings. Sore legs. But done.

I won’t tell you how close I came to shedding a tear when I finished. Or maybe it was that I finished.

I understand that many people would laugh at this feeling. Many people are actually remarkably organized, are great finishers. And I admire you. And on this one project on this one weekend, I’m one of you.


If you want to read a great collection of posts on productivity, follow this one link to Tim Walker’s blog for Hoover. He’s a Longhorn and a history student and has wonderful insights.

the cutting is done

A couple weekends ago, I started replacing the boards on our deck. I showed you a video. Some of you were afraid.

I finished the sawing part tonight.

We’re a long way from done. The deck requires somewhere around 950 screws. I have driven somewhere less than 400 so far.

As I was starting that process tonight, drilling pilot holes and putting in screws, I realized that I’m past the challenging part of the project and now into the difficult part.

The cutting is challenging. For a perfectionist, it is very frustrating to have edges that curve slightly, that are one-sixteenth of an inch off, that are not perfect. However, that part of the work is very rewarding. It shows great progress. A piece of real estate 19 feet wide by 16 feet deep is now completely changed.

It’s great.

However, all 950 screws have to installed.

Mark. Drill. Place screw. Drive.

And there are no gaps, no dangerous holes, no splinters. For the first time in a couple years, the deck is a safe place to walk.

But it isn’t done until the details are finished.

I will find plenty of excuses as the light fails and the weather gets cold. But somehow, I will get it done.

And you? You will hold me accountable.

As you look in the mirror.