a farmer and his wife, she's holding a pot of flowers in bloom
Image by Debi Brady 

How are you at completing things?

There’s power in completing projects or tasks. There’s that great positive emotion we experience when we accomplish a task. We actually can get an endorphin rush when we complete something. There’s often an enormous sense of pride when we achieve something challenging.

Our unfinished proj­ects, on the other hand, can dangle over our heads like little swords. Com­pleting a project gives us energy. Incomplete projects can drain our energy as they sit blinking at us across the room, reminding us that they’re there, waiting for us to do something about them.

As a rehabilitated perfectionist über-Virgo recovering from the disease to please, my tendency toward organization and completion can be a bit ferocious—as long as it’s for others or a group. Assign me a group project with a deadline, and I’m your gal.

When the Devotion to Completion Goes Missing

So why is this same devotion to completion missing in the creative projects I’d like to share with the world?

Take for instance this book you’re now reading. For the past week, more than three-quarters of the way through, I’m about to ditch the whole thing. I’m nearly at the end of the writing, and my creative juices seem to have dried up. Done. Gone. More alarming was that my initial delight and excite­ment in writing was gone. Finit. Kaput.

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The insidious voices inside my head wouldn’t stop. “No one’s going to want to read this anyway.” “Who do you think you’re kidding? You really don’t have anything worthwhile to say.” And the big one: “You’re not going to finish this one, either.”

Ack! Time to get to the bottom of this. I’ve had a few big creative ideas that I began with great encouragement and feedback from others, only to have them sitting unfinished on my shelf ten years later. What’s up with this?

Fortunately, legendary shame researcher Brené Brown came to the res­cue. Or maybe unfortunately. Who the heck wants to talk about shame? Her book Daring Greatly fell into my lap just a week prior, reminding me how much courage it takes to be vulnerable, to open our hearts to the risk of rejection, failure, and humiliation.

And yet to live what Brené calls a “wholehearted life” requires that we do just this while also developing “shame resiliency.” I’ll leave it up to Brené to illuminate all the powerful ways we can do this, as she does so compellingly yet humorously in her book.

Shame on Who?

For the record, I’m not someone who particularly likes to go around talking about shame. It seems, well, shameful, cringe-worthy. But as Brené points out, every single person who isn’t a sociopath experiences shame. And shame thrives in silence.

So I asked for some divine guidance: “What the heck does shame have to do with my completing this book?” Immediately, a college memory flooded in. I remembered being chosen as a teaching assistant for a very popular class. I had never taught before, had no training, and was taking the class myself.

I was told that I’d be teaching a group of my peers the material for three out of four weeks, at which point the rock-star motivational-speaker professor would fly in and mesmerize the crowd on week four. We’d do this throughout the semester.

For my first group lesson, I was super nervous, but I thought I’d prepared more than adequately . . . until twelve minutes into the hour-long class, when I ran out of material. I fumbled and tried to wing it, which just made things worse. All humor and perspective left me as I panicked.

One of the guys in my class (who I later learned had been turned down for the TA position) started heckling me in front of everyone. “How did you get to be a TA for this class?” he demanded. “You’re obviously not remotely qualified to be up there.” You could have cut the tension with a knife as the other students watched this interaction. Wince-worthy.

It was worse than the dream where you’re at school and realize you’re naked. At least you wake up from that. I was at school, and I was naked. As he stormed out of the room and some of his posse followed, the humiliation was beyond painful.

For the next session, I prepared like a madwoman, but the tone had been set. This guy took me on, interrogating every word that came out of my mouth, continuing to belligerently ask in front of the class how I’d been chosen for the position.

I sure wish I’d known about meditation and inner power back then or had the courage to ask for help. But I didn’t. I was ashamed to admit that I was bombing.

Choosing to Live Wholeheartedly

Ahh. So is this why I pull back when I get close to stepping into a power­ful teaching role or close to putting my creative gifts out in the world, risking vulnerability, exposure, and rejection? That A-hole guy is still running the show. Until now.

I want to live, as Brené Brown calls it, wholeheartedly. Do you? I want to be courageous about putting myself and my art out in the world, whether or not anyone likes it or even if it gets heckled. Do you?

Do you have incomplete projects insidiously asking for your attention? Maybe you want to create something and keep putting it off; maybe there’s a dream you want to pursue but tell yourself you’re not ready, or maybe you just want to clean up the basement.

If you have no incomplete projects, you are blessed beyond words, and I am in awe of you. And if you’re human, there’s probably something that begs or whispers for your attention.

What keeps you from completing? What if this week you completed just one thing that’s incomplete?

Copyright ©2023. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Book by this Author: 

Be the Magic: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Wisdom to Feed your Joy, Nourish your Soul and Open your Heart
by Diane Pienta

book cover of: Be the Magic by Diane PientaThis world is constantly nudging us―pulling, pushing, cajoling us―toward our heart’s longing and our true expression of joy. Yet our stubborn and conditioned mindsets can resist these signals, too often dismissing synchronicity and serendipity (magic’s very language) as little more than accident or annoyance. Playful yet potent, BE THE MAGIC nudges us too, showing how to open ourselves to this ever-present guidance to live a more peaceful, passion-filled, and enthusiastic life.

Diane Pienta serves up personal stories and lessons learned, in a smorgasbord of actionable daily practices designed to train us―our minds, our bodies, and our hearts―to become joyfully tuned-in to the guidance presented to us at every turn. If you’ve been struggling to find your purpose, to bring more love, peace and play into your life, BE THE MAGIC may well become your most welcomed daily companion. Start reading and put a smile on your face! A renewed zest for life is right around the corner.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Diane PientaDiane Pienta is a creativity mentor, healer, forest therapy guide and author. A former businesswoman, she was sparked by a cancer diagnosis to transform her own life and explore alternative healing, herbalism, yoga and meditation, which led to a new career in nontraditional ways of finding joy, inner peace, and creativity.

She’s the author of Be the Magic: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Wisdom to Feed your Joy, Nourish your Soul and Open your Heart. 

Visit her website at DianePienta.com