Our boys ran their first race recently – a one mile fun run.
They started out strong, and kept up the pace surprisingly well. Not so surprisingly, they both hit a point where they were tired and slowed down. The four year old may have even sat down on the grass at the side of the trail at one point.
Each time they slowed down, something motivated them to get up and keep going. And when they decided to go again, there was no hesitation. We were running again at an all out sprint.
This cycle continued a few more times until we neared the finish line.
One boy was so excited to see the end that he sprinted through the finish line.
The other, a fair distance behind by this point, slowed down and stopped about 10 feet before the finish line. There were plenty of spectators on the side of the finish line, and he wanted to stop and celebrate with them.
It’s entirely to easy to stop, hit a wall, get discouraged, or just plain get distracted as we approach any finish line.
How have you run your race this year? Did you have a clear goal at the beginning? Did you start your year at a sprint? Or did you pace yourself?
What do you need to reset to cross the end of the year finish line strong?
At this stage in the year, it’s common to think, “Oh, it’s almost the end of the year. I should start thinking about next year’s goals and so I can get a jump start.”
While it’s not a bad plan to think ahead, don’t forget to finish this year strong.
12 weeks is a long time.
Will you have a strong finish? Have a seat and watch the rest of the world pass you by? Stop just short of the finish line?
If you’ve already taken a seat (oh, so easy to do!), what can you do today to pick yourself back up?
At our fun run, it took some encouragement, but my straggling runner crossed the finish line, and then we celebrated!
If you’ve stopped short of the finish line, what will motivate you to take those last few steps?
If you’re still going strong, congratulations!
Personally, I have a tendency to start out most goals and new endeavors at a complete sprint. I’m gong-ho, but don’t pace myself and quickly stall out.
I’ve learned some simple* steps to a strong finish.
*Remember, simple doesn’t always mean easy. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do.
Five steps to a strong finish
1. Recommit to your goal.
Review your list of yearly goals and pick ONE. If you didn’t set a list of goals for the year, there’s no better time than now to create one.
(You can use this exercise to review all your goals for the year, but go through the entire exercise one goal at a time.)
In the most cliche example in the world, my goal is to lose 5 lbs. And while it’s cliche, I’m pretty sure that losing 5 lbs over the holidays should count on the same level as losing 15 lbs any other time of the year, right?! I am a sucker for all things pumpkin, as well as all the seasonal sweets and treats.
2. Make your action steps effort driven, not outcome driven.
Once you’ve identified your goal, determine action steps that are effort driven, not outcome driven. While my goal is a weight-loss goal, my action steps are all going to be things I can control. “Lose weight” isn’t an action. “Stop eating dessert” is.
3. Identify what you need to stop doing.
How are you getting in your own way and preventing yourself from achieving this goal? What actions are you taking that are moving you away from your goal, or keeping you stalled?
In my weight loss example, I need to stop stress eating (so much harder to do than it is to write!) and to stop eating dessert near bedtime.
4. Identify what you need to continue doing.
What’s working now? Keep doing these things!
In my weight loss example, it’s buying healthy convenience foods so that I don’t get hangry.
5. Identify what you need to start doing.
What are you not doing currently that would make an impact toward your goal? Remember to keep these small and manageable action steps. Don’t go too big, too fast. Find small wins. Back to the example, three things I am going to start doing are: packing a lunch, drinking tea first thing in the morning instead of coffee and doing quick, 7-minute workouts 3-5x per week.
Learning to intentionally slow down at the beginning, and focus on consistency of effort rather than volume of output has will dramatically increase your productivity, stress levels and satisfaction.
What action will you take today for a strong finish?