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Finish It and Forget It!

Valorie Burton


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Do you have a hard time leaving work at work? Is your to-do list so long that it is never possible to finish everything you set out to do in a day? I have always loved this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

The quote serves as a reminder of the importance of putting boundaries around our time and expectations of each new day. This week, I would like to simply remind you to “finish each day and be done with it.” Forgive yourself for not accomplishing everything you “could” have. Relax and be at peace with simply doing what you were able. Give yourself permission to make a few mistakes, be imperfect, and inadvertently get off track from time to time. After all, you are human.

One of my friends – a successful executive and single mom of three – told me a few years ago that she had learned that “being superwoman is a super myth.” She was right on point. You can get into the habit of taking on too much responsibility and then expecting yourself to handle every responsibility perfectly and expediently. Before long you can become exhausted and even burn out.

Here are a few ways to practice “finishing each day and being done with it” this week:

  • LEAVE YOUR WORK AT WORK. If you work from home, do the same. When your work day ends, mentally shift from professional life mode to personal life mode.
  • LET YOUR TO-DO’S SPILL OVER INTO THE NEXT DAY. Often, to-do lists are quite unrealistic. Be honest with yourself about what you can actually accomplish in a day. If something doesn’t get completed, move it to another day. Put your to-dos into proper perspective. Sometimes we stress out over tasks that are not urgent matters.
  • EVERY CONFLICT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RESOLVED TODAY. If you’ve had a tough day with co-workers, your children, a spouse, or a friend, don’t feel pressured to always resolve the issue the same day. I’m not suggesting that you should avoid difficult conversations, but rather that it is important to identify the right time and place to have them. Sometimes, waiting a day or two can allow heated emotions to simmer and a more productive conversation to occur.
  • CLEAR YOUR MIND TO FOCUS ON THE PRESENT. When you find yourself focused on all that you did not accomplish during the day, take a deep breath and make a decision to focus on your goal again tomorrow. Refuse to beat yourself up over moments that have passed earlier in your day that you will never get back. Instead, maximize the moment you are in right now by enjoying it fully. For it, too, will never be regained.
  • END YOUR DAY ON PURPOSE. Do you sometimes fall asleep on the sofa? Do you drift off to sleep vowing to read one more chapter in a book only to wake up with the lights on and an open book on your pillow? Studies show that most people have a more restful night’s sleep when they have a bedtime routine consisting of dimmed lights and low or no noise in the hour before going to sleep – followed by turning off the lights and resting until drifting off to sleep. End your day intentionally and you will find yourself energized to begin your next day!

Journaling assignment:
What tends to burden you at the end of each day? What will you do differently beginning today to let it go until a new day begins?

My challenge to you this week:
Finish each day this week and be done with it!

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About The Author


A bestselling author and Certified Personal and Executive Coach who has served clients in over 40 states and eight countries, Valorie Burton has written nine books on personal development, including Successful Women Think Differently and Happy Women Live Better. She is the founder of The CaPP Institute, providing tools and training that build resilience, well-being, and productivity for life and work. She has been a regular contributor on CNN, HLN, and the Today show, where she gives practical career and life advice. She has also been featured in and on The 700 CLub, The Dr. Oz Show, NPR