Books stacked on series of upright shelvesIn several of the transformational programs I have attended, the topic of things left undone was an area for review. Whether it was incomplete projects or unspoken communications, these unfinished activities tend to be like dangling threads – and keep unraveling and draining our energy until we find a way to cut or tie them off.

When I worked in corporate, I noticed the tendency of some people to not reply to emails – or as some would say, “selectively reply”. Those selective replies were mainly for people who receive hundreds of emails and cannot possibly reply to all of them. At the same time, I found myself wondering, “Did they get the email? Do they see the importance of it? How else can I get their attention?”

With a job that instilled an action item closure mentality, dropping the issue was not my strong suit. In following up, I found a variety of reasons ranging from emails never received, the content mysteriously vanishing, to people asking for clearer subject lines so they could tell the priority, among others.

Following up on “dangling threads” can be very time consuming, take lots of energy, have an emotional charge, and lead to mind chatter. The same dynamic can apply in our personal lives. Have you ever received a phone call from someone seeking a donation, a response to a survey, or something similar? My experience is they call many, many times but never leave a message. Are you someone who has tried to interest another person in a product or event and followed the “eight touches approach”, even when it is clear after a couple of attempts they are not interested?

Emails and phone calls are not the only avenues for dangling threads. Sometimes those threads come with feelings of conflict (should I continue to pursue or let it go). Other times they come with excuses like, “I’ll get to it next month”. They may be indicative of poor planning, resistance, or a lack of accountability. Think about the cost of holding onto any of these dangling threads:

  • Jobs that are no longer fulfilling
  • Clutter that takes up time, energy, and space
  • Events from your past that left lasting (but outdated) impressions
  • Repetitive patterns of behavior that no longer serve you
  • Limitations based on the systemic sentences you heard in your family
  • Unread books, unfiled papers, clothes that no longer fit.

While we cannot always gain closure in an email discussion that involves another person, we can manage our own lives in a more mindful way. Take some time to think about your dream job and what stops you from going after it. What inner clutter keeps you holding onto stuff, events, and behaviors? What opinions from your family and others keep you in a holding pattern?

Whether you desire to align with and cultivate your dream, gain clarity and remove obstacles, or become more accountable to yourself, consider Systems of Change for Transformational