In some of my coaching engagements, I use a particular assessment that identifies, among other traits, a person’s natural proclivity to accept things being uncompleted. Some people don’t mind having a list of incompletes on their to-do list; others have more intensity to knock them out.
This is different from procrastination, which is the inability to actually begin a project. “Well, I was just beginning to think about considering a plan to organize myself to get ready to determine the first step, and then something else came along and threw me totally off track.” That’s procrastination.
Tolerance for things remaining unfinished shows itself after you’ve begun something. Once started, the edge throttles down. You feel relieved that it’s in motion and assume it will follow a normal course of progression until you reach completion—kinda like drifting down the lazy river on an innertube. That approach leaves too many things languishing.
Instead of using an assessment, you can simply look at your to-do list and put an “L” (for Languish) beside every item that is stuck or moving incrementally. If you have a number of them marked L and you can sleep at night, you probably have the affliction. But you can interrupt it with a couple of practices.
• First, always have a deadline, preferably set by someone else and not too far out. If that’s not an option, set one for yourself and keep it.
• Second, make an execution plan. Determine your first step and break it down into chucks.
• Third, put your first step on your calendar—an appointment with yourself. If something else comes up, try to avoid changing your plan. If you have to, move it somewhere else on your calendar. Rule: you can only move it once.
When you develop an intolerance for languish, you will feel better, be more productive, and set yourself apart from those around you who are languishing. That’s more like you want to be, right?