For months, I have practically stalked different
professional handymen (including one handywoman), trying to get someone to
please — P – L – E – A– S – E –
let me pay them cash to come fix a long
list of things on my “house wish list.”
[“Is this “handyman” trade so lucrative, that
these skilled laborers need not return phone
calls, nor follow through on promises to show up
at my door?” “Was 2-3 days worth of work not
enough for them to bother with my promise of cold,
hard cash?” These and many other questions swam
through my mind over and over again – for months
Finally, in January, one handyman and his son
spent a few days getting a bunch of stuff crossed
off my list (including patching a small leak in
our roof). They even started (but, sadly,
did not finish) several other small projects.
And, then – like a rainbow after a spring
rainstorm – they dissolved into nothingness. They
never returned to finish my list of projects. They
did not call. Nor did they return my phone calls.
And ultimately, the only phone number I had for
them was disconnected. (I am not making this up!)
Among the list of critical items not attended to
was fixing my doorbell.
I never did get this father and son duo to come
back – even though they left a crate of tools in
my garage and two giant cans of roofing material
on my back patio. And, then – when I thought I had
hit the jackpot – a handyman who not only lived
two blocks from me but also sent his child to the
same school my older son attends – even that did
not pan out.
[“Is nothing sacred? Neighborly relations? Shared
school community ties? Small town reputation?” I
quizzically pondered. But, I used every ounce of
my “have compassion and do not judge” yogic
training to not jump to conclusions or make up
While in Bali, I did the “write and burn”
exercise on the full moon – the same exercise I
wrote to you about in my post the week before I
left. Among the many items I wrote down on my
list of things I was ready to let go of was this:
“not finishing things.” I burned that piece of
paper and welcomed in a new energy that would
motivate me with joy to finish things.
My husband and I share an incredibly creative
side that makes each of us more interested in new
ideas and starting new projects than in finishing
the final details.
In fact, if I was in charge of laying a new
ceramic tile floor, I would be a whiz at designing
the layout, at picking out the tile, at even
laying it down and putting in the grout. But, I
would not seal the grout. This is what I mean
about not finishing things. It’s usually the last
teeny weeny (but critical) detail that I
have no interest in, nor energy for.
Thankfully, in my line of work, those final
details can usually be handled by someone else.
(Thank you, my support team!)
Now that I’m back from Bali, I’ve noticed a
desire to finish things. Really! I wasn’t aware of
it at first, but now I’ve put two and two
First, I programmed the new garage door opener
that I had bought over a month ago, and said
goodbye to the sad-looking duct-taped one that had
been giving me fits and starts with its
non-responsiveness over the past six months.
Then, I cleaned out the interior of our car. By
myself. You don’t want to know what I found
underneath the kids’ seats or under the back car
seat – but let’s just say it would have made
interesting material for an 8th grade science
And Sunday, I went to the store and bought a
new doorbell. And not only did I buy it, but I
followed through and installed it.
A simple job, all-in-all. But it did involve many
- Turning off the correct breaker so I wouldn’t shock myself
- Finding and using the right type of screwdrivers
- Drilling a new hole, since the new doorbell cover was a different size than the old one
- Correctly affixing the electrical wires to the interior screws
- Finishing up the project by testing it and confirming it did indeed work
and (drumroll please) even….
- Cleaning up my work area and the floor between the garage and the front door after I was done.
Whew! I literally shouted with joy when it was all
done. Ask my husband! He heard me from upstairs.
What is going on with me? And what, you might be
wondering, does a doorbell have to do with you
performing at your best?
When you leave the small stuff unattended…
It weighs on you…
It distracts you with scattered thoughts and
takes your attention away from other more
Even in my situation where I had done what I
thought was the right thing: I had acknowledged
from the beginning that I might not be the best
person for the job, and that there might be other
activities that were more important for me to give
my energy to.
Heck — I had even actively sought out support
from a seemingly qualified person – six
times over, as I tracked down lead after lead for
a reliable, affordable handyman – with limited
success. This seemed at the time like a good thing to
“outsource” so I could focus on what I do best.
But, when you keep trying the same approach over
and over again expecting different results:
- It drains you physically.
- Maybe even exhausts you mentally.
- Frustrates you emotionally.
- Dilutes your effectiveness in all things.
- Sometimes leads to self-criticism.
- Perhaps even diminishes your self-confidence.
And when you multiply this type of situation
times the number of unfinished projects on your
official (or unofficial) “to do” list, the result
is that your energy gets scattered in far too many
directions at once and your performance takes a
Well, isn’t it time to reign it all back in?
Ask yourself: What is your doorbell?
[Metaphorically, I mean – although you too might
have a doorbell to fix!]
How can you change your approach to get it done?
Maybe even take the horse by the reigns yourself,
like I did with my doorbell.
I teach my clients that wherever you direct your
attention, energy follows.
So, I invite you to direct your attention in a
different direction that might result in you
actually finishing that project.
And watch – with curiosity and joy – at what
begins to shift and how “getting it done” frees up
your mental energy, your emotions, your time, and
more – to ultimately improve your performance in
the areas of your life and work that matter most
The Bottom Line
It’s not about the doorbell – even though it’s
important to have a working one if you want to
know someone is at the door.
It’s about you doing the work you’re here to do.
It’s about you making your mark on the world.
It’s about you performing at your optimum level.