The Last Lap Closes the Gap

With due respect to Leonardo da Vinci’s quote “Art is never finished only abanoned.” I will intrepidly say finding a way to move more of your important urgent projects to completion will produce results you will enjoy.

Puzzle-solution I recently had a long engaging conversation with one of my three sisters. In the past few years, she has faced major changes in her life, including having lost a husband to cancer too early and seeing both her daughters move out and get on with their lives.

When one starts over after building a life around a family for 40 years, it can be disconcerting to just get enough traction to overcome inevitable inertia, much less get done with all the tasks facing a person in this position. For her, there were additional complications to deal with during this time. The dissolution of a complex estate and business, and the successive deaths of her in-laws whose estates also became her responsibility.

She dutifully managed and muddled through the most urgent items, (you can't keep the tax man waiting), but dithered on many other projects as they were just too overwhelming on personal, physical, psychic and emotional levels to crank on until done. I can't say I, or anyone else I know, would have been able to do more or better in her place.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

When she had had enough time and had enough of living with too many unstarted or unfinished projects, she hired a professional organizer to help her get a grasp on what needed to be done and how to efficiently go about it. The decision was one of the best she's made when it comes to getting her life back under her control and giving her time to not just reflect but to react on the reflections.

She admits without the help she would still be quagmired in too much to do and not enough direction to begin to crawl out of it. To watch the metamorphosis has been enlightening and encouraging. I'm happy for her seeing a renewed interest in projects too long dormant. (She is a gifted musician, vocalist and composer and is now moving towards fulfilling some deferred goals with her muse and music.)

Seeing how an organizer has helped her confirms my belief that professional coaches, such as Art Biz Coach, Alyson Stanfield, profiled in the previous post here, can make a distinct difference on your career. The point is, whether you use Alyson or find your own adviser, if you hook up with one who works well with you, it is highly likely to pay impactful dividends on your career and business.

In the conversation with my sister, she mentioned marveling at her organizer's ability to continuously make what she adroitly calls The Last Lap. That is, work steadily on a project to completion. And, for her to see the projects finalized was very freeing for her. As they toiled away, the malaise of too much to do washed away and a brighter outlook came on her horizon.

What my sister found was to see projects either worked on steadily to completion, or if stopped before done to have the time taken to button up work in progress so as not to distract and demoralize, and to also take time to prepare before leaving an agenda for what actions were necessary to accomplish the next items on the list. These things are simple in reading, but too many tasks can be difficult and paralyzing in real life.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

If you suffer from your own malaise bogged down by minutiae and too many things to do without enough time, you are a good candidate for some outside assistance. If you worry the cost will be too great, I argue the cost in not accomplishing the urgent important items in your life and career is far more costly.

A couplet came to mind as I wrote this:

The last lap
Closes the gap.

With due respect to Leonardo da Vinci's quote "Art is never finished only abandoned." I will intrepidly say finding a way to move more of your important urgent projects to completion will produce results you will enjoy. Stephen Covey's maxim, "Keep the main thing the main thing" is apropos here. Organize, prioritize and act on the main things in your life and reap the inherent benefits from your focused actions.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use


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  1. Wow….you just read my mind, Barney! When this came into my inbox, I had just finished my morning meeting with my sculptor husband over coffee, lining out our duties for the day. This was so appropriate to what we were discussing, as we had just finished up with our initial marketing blitz! We have our websites up and fine-tuned (with the wonderful host FineArtStudioOnline I may add!) have both started our signed up on FaceBook to connect to the world,posted daily paintings on our eBay store, and have done all this after just moving 14 months ago to a new state! We didn’t know a soul in Oregon, but we became modern day pioneers and bought a trailer, loaded it with our possessions, and trekked for several days to our leased home in “Eden”. It has been a rocky year, putting together our body of works, building the marketing machine to sell my paintings and prints, and my husbands’ limited edition bronzes. We have taken small bits of time to smell the roses, in driving close to our house and photographing all the beauty here around us. But ALL our focus has been on business. It has been a daily push…and we are fortunate to have each other to lean on when one of us gets down, or discouraged. I applaud your sister….what she has endured is more than many people will ever have to, and she was wise to reach out when she felt she needed help. No matter what our chosen path in this life, if we get in action, with a plan, the answers we are looking for and the choices we need to make will be evident. Thank you for sharing this with us…spot on, Barney!

  2. Hello Barney,
    Here are a few suggestions on how to crawl out of the “over commitment – under performance” quagmire:

    1.Make a short list of the smallest tasks that are weighing you down. Pick one and tell yourself: “If I finish this, I don’t have to do anything else for the rest of the day unless I feel like it.” I remember a time when the first item on my list was “Trim toenails.” When I crossed it off, I felt a tiny sense of satisfaction and found the second had diminished in size. Every time I struck something from the list my spirits and sense of accomplishment increased.
    2.Straighten the picture of how things should look. For an artist, that may be “straighten the studio.” Too big a job? Try: “straighten my paint box” or “wipe the excess paint off the necks of the paint tubes and replace the caps.” If you’ve made a list, cross it off. That’s Visual Feedback. The trick is to pick something where you see an immediate result, whether its sweeping the sidewalk, trimming an overgrown bush or putting the dishes in the dishwasher.
    3.Learn to say, “NO.” When asked to take on another job, try: “I’d love to help, but there’s no way I can fit it in.” That’s the truth, isn’t it?
    4.Recognize: It doesn’t have to be done MY way, and the corollary: It doesn’t have to be done on MY schedule. If you knew how long it took me to learn that, and at what cost, you’d tattoo it on the back of your hand.
    5.Don’t let bad news force you into a “Chicken Little” panic. Falling stock prices? Banks failing? Crime and corruption on the rise? Hurricanes or earthquakes wrecking devastation? Try turning off the TV. How is it in your town, in your neighborhood? Will the sun come up tomorrow? There are days when times are so tough “on the tube” I hop in the car and drive to the Gulf just to glory in God’s marvelous creation. My wife and I did it yesterday. We saw a manatee, a dolphin, sun sparkling on azure water and came home refreshed. It’s always better when you share it with someone.

    Here’s a couplet to go with yours:
    Is always wise

  3. I just wanted to comment on how much I value your wisdom and look forward to reading your blog often. Thanks for writing.

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