Practically your whole life has been affected by the theme of finishing what you start.

If you’re like me it started in childhood, at the breakfast table—“Finish your cereal.” Maybe the “snap” and “crackle” were already reduced to a hum, but you finished it off and made your way to school. The teacher greeted you with a smile (or not). You settled at your desk, and before long you were faced with the question, “Class, how many of you have completed your reading assignment?” Guilty as charged!

You carried the guilt home with you and changed clothes to play outdoors but before you can make your escape, Mother asks, “Did you finish your homework?” And on and on, through college, into your career, you are faced with the same line of questioning.

In fact, right now you might be eye-balling something that either should have been done, or should be father along on the assembly line. How do you deal with it? I think there are at least three principles that apply to unfinished work:

PRINCIPLE ONE: You can do SOME things better than EVERYTHING. If you push back from the desk, you might see that some of your work isn’t an immediate necessity. It may look urgent. But unless it threatens the welfare of your employment or national security, it might be as viable an option for tomorrow as seems today.

PRINCIPLE TWO: Some of your work is rooted in perceived importance rather than real. In other words, your “work journey” might actually be a guilt trip. Your plate may have some “table scraps” from someone else’s plate on it. You’re doing work for a friend in need. You’re doing work to impress another (or yourself?). You’re doing work for a perceived reward.

PRINCIPLE THREE: Unfinished work doesn’t equal failed work. If it’s unfinished, it’s simply in the finishing stages. Tomorrow, you’ll have a second chance to do what you intended to do today. Re-examine its priority in light of your vision. Change your setting. Think about the possibilities—and begin again.

–Stan Toler