"A goal is a dream with a finish line." -Duke Ellington
I was nearing the end of a particularly tough run on the treadmill the other day and caught myself looking at the distance marker and bargaining with myself.
I was rationalizing that I had already run far enough, had really pushed it with sprints, so a few tenths of a mile weren't going to make a difference. I was already going further than some of my other runs, I told with myself.
The other voice in my head chimed in and called me out on my excuses and told me to finish what I intended when I started.
Hopping off the treadmill, it made me think about how often we stop short of the “finish line”.
How many of us start projects, businesses, creative endeavors, side hustles, or exercise regimens with the greatest and best intentions, showing up and playing full out, only to stop before we finish?
As days go on, our enthusiasm wanes as the reality of the work we have to do or the commitment we have to make shows its face. This is often when we lose steam and throw in the towel.
Our life is good enough as it is, we reason. We didn’t really want what we said we did, we lie to ourselves.
We’re tired, we rationalize.
We serve up whatever defense du jour on a silver platter to anyone who will listen. While this approach soothes our ego and reduces our guilt and angst about staying stuck, it does little for our progress toward crossing the finish line.
It’s difficult, we complain, and we’ve already worked SO hard. So. We. Stop.
Sometimes this happens before we even start!
Not only do we miss out on what’s on the other side of the finish line, we send ourselves a slew of messages that keep us in a pattern of stopping short of our potential.
And, yes, sometimes we need to know when to fold them and know when to walk away, but today’s post is about playing the hand through.
For any of you feeling like calling it quits, I’ve got 5 Tips to Keep You in the Game.
5 Tips to Keep You in the Game
Often we haven’t actually decided that we’re committing to a goal, dream, or result. We think about it. We think it would be great if it happened. We love the idea of it. But, we never decide.
The act of confidently deciding we are going to do something and see it through to completion is a powerful and motivating line in the sand.
Our brain hates incongruence, so when we make decisions, our subconscious works to make our outer world match our inner world.
When we decide, we do it.
When we decide, we identify with the outcome, and again, our subconscious works to make this a reality.
In fact, when I’m not getting a result I want in my business, my coach often points out that it’s because I haven’t made a clear decision.
Decide to cross the finish line, and you will.
2. Visualize the end goal or “finish line”.
Our goals are often exciting at the start. They fire us up, but once the actual work and a little time come into play, the excitement can go out the window. It can be easy to lose sight of where we’re going and get stuck in frustration.
Visualization helps us stay motivated, and it also primes our brain to create the result we want.
Our brain can’t tell the difference between perceived and real events, so when we visualize, our brain thinks it’s already happened, which makes it that much easier to put into practice.
Put this into action: Visualize your "finish line" daily.
3. Remember why you started.
We’re more likely to stick it out when we get clear on why we want to cross the finish line.
Knowing our “why” keeps us in the race when it’s easier to quit than keep going. And, I’m going to tell you right now, it’s always easier to quit!
With each goal, ask yourself, why do you want to achieve this goal? Why does it matter? Why this goal? Why now? Why do you want to cross the finish line?
4. Ask yourself how you want to feel when you go to bed.
With most personal goals, no one else will be directly affected if you don’t finish them.
If I stop a run on the treadmill short of the “finish line”, no one else is affected. I’m affected. I know I’ve sold myself short. It’s me who gets the message that I don’t finish what I start.
Instead of worrying about what others will think, ask yourself how you want to feel when the day ends and you go to bed.
P.S. As with all things of the mind and pursuing big goals, let’s ask ourselves kindly and with compassion.
5. Know the stakes.
So, I’m all for celebrating our wins. I talk about this all the time. But, when we’re consistently stopping short of the finish line, sometimes we also need to apply the pain lever ever so slightly.
Sounds cruel, I know. But hear me out.
We’re wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure.
Often, when we stop short and don’t follow through it’s because we’re associating more pain with completing the task than with stopping. Or conversely, we’re associating more pleasure with stopping and staying stuck.
In other words, running to the end will be hard and hurt, stopping short gives me immediate relief. More pleasure, less pain if I stop now.
To flip this, we need to think about what pain we’ll experience if we stop short and what pleasure we’ll miss out on. Or, we can think about what pleasure is waiting for us at the finish line and what pain we’ll have to live with if we don’t make it to the end.
Puts a new spin on "no pain, no gain", doesn't it?
This is how we brain hack and truly motivate ourselves to cross the finish line.
I get that sometimes we just want to throw in the towel and figure no one will ever be the wiser... that it won’t even matter. I hope today’s blog will remind you that it isn't about whether or not it matters to anyone else - it’s about the message we tell ourselves every time we stop short of seeing our intentions through to the finish line.
We send ourselves a powerful message when we show up and follow through with what we say we will. It says: I can trust myself; I do what I say I will.; I follow through; I can do this.
You can do this. You can cross the finish line.
Wishing you your version of success,
P.S. Want someone to hold you accountable to crossing the finish line? I'd love to support you! Learn more about how we can work together and apply for a free coaching consultation here.