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Love Your Life Series, #6: (Don’t) Finish What You Start

In a series on Loving Your Life, it makes good sense that I’d suggest finishing up some projects, getting things off your radar, etc. And sometimes, that helps a lot– just to not have things nagging at you.

But to steal Marie Kondo’s language, there is also “Life Changing Magic” in not finishing what you start. And it’s true in several aspects of your life.

Child making “No” gestureHave you ever started a book with great excitement and then been hugely disappointed when it was a battle for you to continue reading it? Maybe your friends had raved about it and it was on the NYT best seller list, but it just wasn’t doing anything for you? Yeah, been there. But most of us wouldn’t put it down. We’d keep sloughing through it as if we just hadn’t discovered the book’s magic yet. And because we’re guilt-carrying people, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to read anything we did enjoy until we finished that one. Depending on how bad the book was, this process of reading 5-10 pages at a time could occupy weeks or months of drudgery filled reading!

Sometimes, when you choose to be done with something, there’s a huge power and freedom in letting it go, in saying “I gave it a good shot, but that wasn’t for me.” This is true not only for books, but for committees that no longer fill you with purpose. It’s true for hobbies that you should try. Sometimes it’s true even for friendships and relationships that are sucking you dry instead of making you feel alive. Whatever IT is, just because it’s there now doesn’t mean you have to keep it in your life. When you stop holding onto it, your hands are free to be open to something new.

This “Don’t Finish What You Start” maxim works on another level too: with your food. So many of us deeply believe in the “Clean Plate Club” that our parents instilled in us from an early age. We don’t want to be wasteful. And wow, food is so expensive (whether eating out, or even trying to eat well at home!), we sure want to get our money’s worth. So we eat whatever is there, regardless of whether we need it, want it– or even really like it. Sometimes, if we’re honest, food kind of controls us. (It did me– for years! But the truth is that while I’m 1000x times better than I was, I still fight this battle sometimes. I’ll write more one day, but I’m still a work in progress.)

I learned something from watching my trainer eat. He never ever eats everything on his plate– no matter how much he likes it. Actually, the more he likes it, the more he leaves. He was a competition body builder, and at 61, still maintains the habits that allowed him to go that far. He also likes to be in charge, and in control. I’ve never asked him, but I’d be surprised if he likes roller coasters. He doesn’t like being at the mercy of anything, including food. For him (and now for me), leaving something on his plate means that food isn’t the boss. No craving is stronger than he is (I’m still working on this part.)

But in the quest to Love your Life, I think this is actually pretty helpful. I know what it’s like to be controlled by food, and there’s an awful lot of freedom that comes from being able to walk away from even a bite. It makes you feel in charge, and this feeling starts to empower you to make other better choices. It’s a small win, but a small win often leads to other smaller wins– and eventually the effect becomes cumulative.

Bella, The Self-Appointed Food Finisher PoliceTry it. Leave 1 bite of everything on your plate. Or if you’re feeling really brave try to leave 2-3 bites. See what else changes when you make this a habit. If you have a canine that likes to have dinner with you– you can share your dog friendly scraps with her! Bella is a big helper in the battle of my bulge!

Pudge Says

Finish what you have to finish. Everything else is at your discretion. Sometimes, feeling like you’re in control of the small stuff helps you remember how much control you have over bigger stuff!

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