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The Trouble With Nearing Completion

For the last few months, I’ve been engaged in a project that has taken up almost all of my focus and creativity. In the next week or so, I will be finishing this assignment. As I’ve been working my way through the different elements, I’ve been pleased with my progress. It’s the first time I’ve attempted anything like it, so the learning curve has been interesting and to witness my own development along the way has been uplifting. The whole experience has been enlightening and I was so sure that as I neared the end, I would be feeling overjoyed to complete the process. But I’m afraid to say, this was not the case. The trouble with nearing completion is there was something dark, looming on the horizon that filled me with a sense of dread.

A Feeling Of Uneasiness

Suddenly, I began having feelings of trepidation and uneasiness as the end drew closer. My days were spent malingering, rather than getting on with the job. Not just a lack of motivation. Possibly more of an inability to move forward. At first I began telling myself ‘I’m nearly done now so need to rush. I’ve got plenty of time.’ But as the days passed by and I still felt no inclination to continue, I started to wonder if something else could be at play. I asked myself why don’t I want to finish this? Is it because I’ve got no material for the final part? But I had to rule this out because the subject matter had been planned since the beginning of the project.

Could it be fear of failure? Was I putting off the completion because I was afraid my creation wouldn’t be a success? Although this did seem to resonate with me a little, I’m not convinced this is what was causing my discomfort. It would be easy to write this off as fear induced anxiety at the prospect of my work falling short of the success I hoped it would be. But it seemed too simple. People create art and invent new products every single day, regardless of whether they will succeed or not. If everyone stopped short of finishing their projects just because they thought it might not work, nothing new would ever be created.

I’ll Do It Later

I felt there had to be a deeper meaning to my procrastination. It’s more likely that I would procrastinate at the beginning of a new challenge, so I was taken aback to experience this procrastination as I was nearing completion. Usually, I hate the feeling of having work that needs to be done hanging over my head. But this time I was happy to let it hang there, rather than face whatever it was that was waiting for me at the end. Later became my new favourite word. Whenever it was time to do the work, I’d find other ‘more important’ things to do. Even things I didn’t usually like doing were moved to the top of my to do list, in favour of the work I should be doing.

It got to the point that I became infuriated with myself. Not only was I wasting time by not working on this project to get it finished, I realised that I was sabotaging myself by avoiding it altogether. It seemed so ridiculous to me that I would go out of my way to avoid completing it, when it had been a very personal and long held goal of mine. As this was such an important ambition for me, I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I decided to go back to the beginning. What had made me start this project in the first place? Why had I committed months of my time to it, if I had no intention of completing it? Why was it important to me? And was it still so important if I couldn’t be bothered to finish it?

Remember Why You Started

I wrote down all the reasons I had wanted to start this project in a list. As I read the list, I remembered what had made me so passionate about it in the first place. I also remembered all the people that had told me it wouldn’t work. And all the times I was told I wasn’t being practical, and I should concentrate on my day job as it brought me a small but steady income. I remembered thinking I was going to do it anyway, no matter what they thought. It wasn’t the money I was doing it for, I was doing it because I felt called to do it. I had to try and make my dream a reality. I was fed up of playing small because it was the safe option. It had to be something I enjoyed and that came from the heart.

And that’s when it hit me. As I read all the reasons I had written down in the list, I realised I wasn’t scared of being a failure. I was afraid of losing my dream. Once the project was finished I had to let go of the dream I’d held for so long. It went from being a dream to being a reality. An actual finished product out there in the world, with no way of making any further changes. When it was just a dream in my head, it could become whatever I wanted it to be. But once created, it can only be as it is. My unwillingness to let go of the dream, the idea of what I hoped it might be, was what was causing me to delay the finish.

What Comes Next?

When it’s complete, I also lose my sense of purpose and direction. What will come next? If nothing does, then what? What is a person without a dream? Without a work in progress? Without a reason or a purpose? How do you find the next desire that will become your mission, that you can put your heart into? What if this dream is irreplaceable? If it is your one lifelong calling? What will your life become without it? These and more I realised, were all the questions that had been floating around in my subconscious as I approached the end. Although I hadn’t been knowingly aware, it had been revealed through my actions or lack thereof.

I’m Almost Done

You’re probably wondering how I resolved the trouble of nearing completion. Well, to be honest, I haven’t fully resolved it yet. But once I knew what I was dealing with, I had something to work with. After some research, I discovered that it’s not just me that is dealing with this phenomenon. In the writing community, I’m told it’s known as Almost Done Syndrome. By staying in the nearing completion stage, you avoid the fear of not knowing what comes next. But you can only teeter on the edge of the precipice for so long. There will come a time when you won’t be able to delay it any longer. And wouldn’t it feel better to be ready? As you let go and plunge headlong into the abyss of the unknown?

I think so. At least, it would give me a sense of preparedness if I had some kind of plan in place, were this to happen again. So, what can be done to avoid Almost Done Syndrome and all the ‘I have no purpose’ fear that comes with it? You’ll be pleased to know (as I was) that there are lots of positive actions you can take to bypass it.

Be Proud Of Yourself

As you are nearing completion, take time to look back at the work you’ve done so far and allow yourself to be pleased with your progress. This may sound egotistical and self-absorbed but it’s not. When you allow yourself to acknowledge your work and be proud of your accomplishment, you set a very clear boundary in your mind that your work is of value and now that you’ve nearly finished, there is room for the next idea to start taking shape.

Take Time To Relax

Take time to recharge your batteries. Give yourself a little time off or take yourself on a date and do something nice for yourself. Let your mind and body regenerate and revel in the luxury of having no work to do for a day or two. But don’t linger! When it’s time to get back to your current project, purposefully tackle it head on. Finish your assignment with passion and purpose. By keeping your energy fully focused on your desired outcome as you wrap up this project, you’ll keep the momentum going for the start of the next one. Don’t lose sight of why you started. You have even more to offer in your next creation.

Plan Ahead

Plan your next project during your last project. Get the ball rolling on your next idea while you’re still working on your current assignment. This can be a real lifesaver for sufferers of Almost Done Syndrome. As you know what’s coming up next when you get to the end of this one, you can remove all the fear of having no purpose and the unknown. You don’t have to start work on it until you’ve finished the previous project, but it’s a good idea to set your objective and create a rough outline for your next project. That way when you’ve signed off on the last one, you already have a basic idea of what you’ll create next. And you don’t need to stop at one. Why not brainstorm a few new concepts so you have several new works in the pipeline?

Final Thoughts

Whatever happens, don’t let fear derail you. We all experience it. Especially when we are creating from our hearts. Try to get to the bottom of it, when you know the cause you can work on healing it. Don’t let Almost Done Syndrome or anything else stop you from putting your work out into the world. If you’re feeling devoid of purpose, or lacking the motivation to continue, remember to ask yourself why you started. Looking back at your work and how far you’ve come, should be enough to spur you on and help you overcome any doubts you have. Take time to relax and recharge your batteries or treat yourself to a well-deserved reward. And lastly, planning your next project during your current one can help with knowing your direction and give you purpose when you’re nearing completion.

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Ruth Cunningham is a mindset and success coach and the founder of Up and Up Life. Ruth helps women build the confidence they need to go after their dreams and live a life of freedom and independence on their own terms. Her primary focus is on empowering them to identify what is holding them back and giving them practical tools for success.