Sometimes the "incompletes" in our lives can add up and we can start to feel overwhelmed. There are big incompletes -- our long-held dreams, our unpursued passions -- and then there are the little incompletes -- the stuff we see every day that niggles at us, the "to-dos," the lists of tasks we really want to do … someday. You don't need many of these incompletes before everywhere you look (even into the future) you see things you haven't done instead of the things you have done. This can undermine your energy and happiness.

The first step toward a remedy is . . . to throw all those lists away. So often we are busy (and stressed), but not very happy. It can take time and effort (and courage) to identify your true passion and make changes so that your days are filled with meaning, connection and joy.

So if you would like to align your actions with what you care about most, first try this: make a new agenda for yourself. Create a "Desires List" of everything that you would like to be, do, and have. Really have fun with this. Go wild!

Then every week make a commitment to create action items that lead to achieving those desires, even if the first action toward, say, "a clean house" is just to "clean and organize closets." Even if it's just "clean and organize hall closet." Even if it's just "clean hall closet." (If "a clean house" didn't make your list of things you would like to have, you might want to think again. Decluttering can literally create space for your bigger dreams to show up.)

Note that you can make your action items as big or small as you want. In fact, I am a huge fan of what I call the "fifteen-minute sprint" for getting anything done. If something seems overwhelming to you, commit to some action addressing that item for fifteen minutes. And do no more than fifteen minutes.

Set a timer and go to it! You'll be surprised by how much you accomplish in that time. And you'll be surprised by how fast the time went. Even if you feel like you could do more, don't. You want to avoid burnout. If you are really inspired, take a break, have a drink of water, and then return for another 15 minute round, but that's it.

If you doubt the power of the 15-minute sprint, listen to this story. When my mother-in-law died she left thousands of books to my husband. I asked my husband what he wanted to do with them. He wanted to go through every one of them and look for notes she might have written and then make a decision about where he wanted them to go -- his own library, for sale, or as a donation. They sat in our basement for over a year untouched. It was just too overwhelming!

I asked my husband if he would be willing to spend fifteen minutes a day going through the books. He said he was. Every day he would take a timer to the basement and only spend fifteen minutes going through the books. For a long time it seemed like nothing was happening. But then, just shy of a year after he initiated the fifteen-minute sprint, all of the books had been sorted and given a proper home. And my husband had accomplished more than a decluttering project: he had finally honored his mom's memory and legacy.

So yes, we all have big dreams we want to accomplish and projects that are overwhelming in their magnitude. But they can be managed, one fifteen-minute period at a time. And here's one last thing: celebrate your accomplishments. You should celebrate even the completion of a single 15-minute sprint.

Often we finish one task and rush on to the next without acknowledging that what we just did was important and meaningful. So find a way to celebrate, even if you only take a quick walk outside or put water in a wine glass and drink it on your porch. Celebrating your accomplishments helps cement them, and can make future tasks and projects seem much easier.

So -- to recap. Step 1: dream. Step 2: sprint. Step 3: celebrate. In no time at all, you, too, will become a "completionista." Welcome to the club!

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Curnow works as a certified nurse-midwife in North Carolina, and over more than 15 years her career has taken her from western Indian reservations to a center-city Bronx hospital to the mountains of southwestern Mexico.
She has been an enthusiastic student of positive psychology for years and applies it to her midwifery and life coaching practices with great success. You can find out more about her services at
She is the creator of a thriving blog and many of her articles have been published in print magazines and online.
She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, young son, and Ruby the wonder chicken.