Never Complete Anything? Here's Why You (Probably) Don't.

"Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished."—Neil Gaiman


Man. If there was ever an article where I wish I could put a friend's first, middle and last name in it, this would be the one. I say that because the person who I'm speaking of is brilliant. I'm not being biased either because, most of the people in their world, feel the same way as I do. Problem is, this person sucks, BIG TIME, when it comes to completing things. Genius idea after genius idea never fully manifests because the minute the concept comes into their brain and they begin, after about a good week or so, they're on to something else. As a result, nothing ever really materializes. And that really is a total and damn shame.

If this sounds like someone you know because, in all honesty, the person is you, please take a moment to at least finish reading this. It really is my personal belief that completing tasks are a form of self-discipline and, the more you do finish things, the better you are at taking on bigger, better and greater opportunities along the way. I've always been a firm believer that some of the best answers come from asking self-reflective questions. So, pull out your journal and write down your own answers to the ones I've listed down below. It could be what helps to put a fire in you to not just start things…but to actually complete them.

Do You Set Short- and Long-Term Goals?


Let's start with a point that should be obvious but actually, it might not be. Sometimes, we don't complete tasks because let's be real—some of the stuff that we set out to do is not going to happen overnight. A real investment of blood, sweat, tears and time is gonna be required which can wear us all the way out before we even begin. Sometimes I feel that way about my writing. When I know that I've got 10-15 articles to do in a week, I will get up on Monday already shaking my head. But things seem a lot less daunting once I break my assignments down into increments; you know—I create short- and long-term goals. On the writing tip, I actually tend to do the easier/quicker stuff first because that typically leaves me with only 5-7 articles by Wednesday. In my mind, because most of what I needed to do is already done, it's like getting a second wind to knock everything else out.

We've all heard the saying "So-and-so-crawled so that so-and-so could now run." If you struggle with completing stuff, put your name in both "so-and-sos". Set short-term goals (crawl) and finish those. If you do that, they will give you the extra "umph" that you need to get to the bigger stuff (run). If you make this way of approaching matters a part of your daily routine, you'll be amazed by how much you'll be able to complete—basically all of the time.

What About You and Time Management?


Social media takes up a lot of time (on average, it's about 2 ½ hours a day). Reading gossip blogs takes up a lot of time. Watching mindless television takes up a lot of time. Being in relationships with fruitless individuals (folks who take more than they give and/or are always trying to turn you into someone you're not) takes up a lot of time. Talking about what you're gonna do rather than actually doing it takes up a lot of time. Listen, we've all got 24 hours in a day and, based on how you utilize those hours, your days can be really beneficial—or not. The harsh reality is, there are a lot of folks who don't complete things for no other reason than they absolutely suck at time management (check out "These 10 Habits Are Totally Wasting Your Time").

A hack that helps me to avoid falling into this demographic is reminding myself that there will never be another day that is quite like this one. And since tomorrow isn't promised, I need to make the absolute most of it. Hmph. You'd be amazed how effective that is if you really take these points seriously. And literally.

How Excited Are You About the Things You’re Setting Out to Do?


Only a child (or a childish individual) would think that everything that we do in life is supposed to be fun all of the time. But something that I've learned is what you can do is "trick yourself" into feeling some level of excitement about the tasks that are on your list of things to do. For instance, I recently had two screws in my loveseat become stripped (because I've had this piece of furniture for a hot minute now). It's not really in the budget to buy a new couch; plus, I still like what I've got. So, I devoted an entire Sunday towards figuring out how to fix it myself. Do you think I really wanted to do that?! Heck no. But the excitement came from the thought of being able to fix the loveseat on my own while being able to keep some extra coins in my pocket. After doing a little research, I found an under-five-dollars solution and now it's good as new. And yes, I'm super duper excited about that!

By the way, I chose the word "excited" very strategically. One definition of it is "stimulated to activity". Whether it's a project for work, paying a bill (on time), completing a DIY project—whatever it is that's on your personal to-do list, if you struggle with completing tasks, figure out a way to get excited about starting in the first place. The faster you complete a work project, the easier it will be to either impress your boss or move on to something else. Paying bills on time will keep you from incurring late fees and can add some points to your credit score. Completing a DIY project can boost your self-confidence (I can totally vouch for that one!). Human nature is kind of wired to need an incentive for why we do the things that we do. If you can figure out at least three reasons why completing a particular thing will benefit you, this alone can gas you up to start and finish it.

Are You an Overthinker? Maybe You’re Constantly Overwhelmed.


Last summer, I wrote an article entitled, "How To Handle 'Purpose Fatigue'". In it, one of the things that I addressed is how overthinking can be our biggest deterrent in trying to accomplish, shoot, pretty much anything in life. Overthinking can cause you to create problems that don't even exist. Overthinking can make you super anxious. Overthinking can turn you into a worry wart.

Overthinking can make you live in the past to the point where you can't live in the present or plan for the future. Overthinking can literally stop you dead in your tracks. And, if you allow yourself to get—and then remain—in this kind of headspace, you will think your way out of possibly starting and almost definitely finishing something.

Know what else that overthinking can do? It can totally overwhelm you. This is one reason why it can be a really good idea to either begin each week—or day—with a to-do list that has things listed in an order of importance. That way, you can start off your week being clear about the fact that, if there's anything that you will prioritize, it's what you've already written down. That can help to organize your mind, manage your time and take some of the stress off—so that you can actually get things done.

How Good Are You at Celebrating and Encouraging Yourself?


Some people aren't able to complete things because they have wired themselves to believe that, unless someone is constantly encouraging them, then what they are doing might not be worthwhile. This is a really dangerous way of thinking. For one thing, you should never expect anyone to be more thrilled about and invested in your life than you are. Secondly, humans are flawed. This means that sometimes they will disappoint you. And third, there are gonna be certain things that you want to get done that folks around you may not get or support. I've shared before that I have family members who refused to talk to me while I was writing my first book. Close family members. Still, I knew it was something that had to be done and so…I did it.

Something that creatives, especially, need to keep in mind is, some of the ideas that come to your spirit are gonna sound straight up crazy to people around you (truly original things oftentimes do!). You've got to discipline yourself to push through the naysayers and do what you know is best and right, in spite of. It's an epidemic, the amount of people who don't ever complete things because they don't know how to hype their own damn selves up. Post up affirmations. Celebrate baby steps. Remind yourself why you started in the first place. If you are your biggest fan, anyone else will just be…surplus.

How Good Are You at Protecting Your Energy?


On the heels of what I just said, here's another great point. Energy. Energy is power. Sometimes, even if you've got the first three things that I mentioned checked off, if you don't protect your energy—especially from negative people, places, things or ideas—that can also bring you down and hinder you from finishing projects. A great example of this is, I have a close friend who is about to blow all the way up! A part of the reason why is because she's a really good person and when you put good out, good comes back to you (if not immediately, eventually). Anyway, meanwhile, she's got a hater in her midst. Not just a hater but a hater who poses herself as being a friend (check out "5 Signs Your Closest Friends Are The Most Envious Of You"). Because this so-called friend of hers is so cryptic and calculated, sometimes her stratagems can throw my friend off to the point where she's more focused on why her "friend" is doing the things that she does rather than tending to what can take her to an even higher level. Bottom line, that non-friend-friend is draining my friend's energy—that person is tapping into my friend's power source and that's preventing her from getting all that she needs to do—done.

You need power to start and complete things. This is why it is imperative that you protect your energy at all costs. If you don't, there's a pretty good chance that you'll never really get anything that's worth doing done (or done as well as it could've been if you hadn't let stuff infect your energy).

What’s the Benefit/Blessing Upon Completion?


I make sure my articles get done on time so that I can get paid on time. I finished my loveseat so that I could comfortably sit on it again. I make elaborate dishes sometimes because I enjoy certain foods that are hard to find in a "regular" restaurant. While these are semi-small examples of what it means to find a benefit or blessing in completing things, they are still really valid. Just like you should find your why for beginning something, it's also important to find your what when it comes to finishing it. Because the reality is a lot of people have a challenging time completing things because they forget why they began what they did in the first place (I deal with this when it comes to married couples all the time). An author by the name of Toni Sorenson once said, "The secret is not following the right path, it's following that right path to the end. Don't quit, my friend, until you've arrived." If you know that you have a hard time completing things, think about what is awaiting you once you arrive. Let that be the driving force to getting things done—the benefit or blessing that is guaranteed to wait for you on the other side.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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