#7 – Finish What You Start

Part of a series of ten segments, checking the progress of my 2017 New Year Resolutions.

We moved into our early 1980s house 12 years ago and immediately began dismantling the saccharine pink and baby blue color scheme throughout the house, a room or two at a time. The last evidence of the prior owners was in a big laundry room off the kitchen, a room with plaid wallpaper that also had a touch of green to the color scheme, allowing me to stomach it longer than any other room. Plus I’ve removed wallpaper a time or two before, and you never know what you might get into it. It isn’t always easy. I swear some people used superglue once. I had to chip away at the plaster to get a guernsey cow border off the kitchen walls at our home in Omaha, and I swore up a storm the entire time because my patience was GONE.

One new year’s eve, I hit the wall literally and began ripping the wallpaper down. There was NO WAY I was heading into a new year staring at that plaid any longer. As it turns out, that first layer came off easily and I figured I would get around to scraping off the residue shortly afterward, patch a little, then paint. And then paint the cupboards too because….well because. They were too dark. Why work with dark brown wood in a laundry? Why not brighten the whole space?

An entire year flew by and I didn’t do another thing.

Now I feel like I had a good excuse, being the working mom of three young kids. And if there’s a room in the house I use all the time, it’s this one. I climb the summit of Mt. Laundry every week and just when I think I’ve reached the top, I do it all over again. Not to mention this room is relatively huge so it serves as the pantry and a catch-all for sports equipment, blankets, and all kinds of stuff we technically didn’t have a “home” for.

So yeah….I have a tendency to get excited about starting and planning projects, as do a lot of people. I have all kinds of energy for that. I think through what materials I need, buy and stage them… and then they sit. Or I have a mad rush of energy to start day one of the job, and then life gets in the way.

Like this laundry room. After a year, I finally started painting and got maybe 80% of the way through the job and had to stop. And while I stopped, I thought long and hard whether I liked the look, and I didn’t! I changed my mind!

I can’t tell you how many people told me to just hire someone, but I had so many excuses, the primary one being that I felt no one would do it better than me. I am meticulous about patching, sanding, painting, avoiding drips, cleanup…  I love the learning and meditative aspects of painting. I do so much thinking and it feels so productive to do it not to mention the obvious visibility to your progress. Plus who has all day to spell out every assumption and expectation or to take the time to monitor whether a third party will do it the “right” way? And who has money to pay someone to be that meticulous? Just…no.

And I even set another strategy for myself, an incentive of sorts, which was that I wasn’t allowed to start any other house projects until the laundry room was DONE. Needless to say, a lot of projects have piled up while that room sat unfinished.

And it still didn’t work. The fact of the matter is, it wasn’t getting done. I had to get realistic about what I was able to accomplish, no matter how much I wanted to be done.

Somewhere among the 100 or so podcasts I listened to and who knows how many hundreds of articles I’ve read this past year, I heard about a strategy for how you spend your time. The point was to spend your money on services or gadgets that save you time so you can spend YOUR time on those things that only you can do: things that feed your body, mind, and soul like chill with your family, travel, exercise, hone your professional skills, pray, whatever. Relentlessly outsource everything else.

hello-i-m-nik-281498So I did it. I broke down and outsourced the laundry room painting. It wasn’t perfect. The cabinets came out an ice blue instead of pure white so I insisted on having them redone, at extra cost, delay, and disappointment. The hardware ended up with some paint on it, which DRIVES ME CRAZY. There are a couple of drips and a couple of patchy spots…but in all its imperfection, I can deal with it. My laundry room is now beautiful, functional, organized, clean, efficient, effective, bright, and happy.

And this whole lesson, the lesson that took me over three years, maybe four, to learn, is to GET IT DONE, so I can release my energy to work on the next big thing. Do what you’ve got to do to finish what you start so you don’t lose your energy, your momentum. It works, baby. Trust the process.


Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash
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