“Dare not stop; otherwise you’ll be last.”
A few days back, I had a chat with my six year old daughter. she had come back from a bike race with her older siblings. She mentioned, while we talked, that whenever she goes racing she gets really tired and feels pain in her joints and muscles but she dares not stop because she doesn’t want to come last. (She is physically fit and has no medical issue. Had to rule that out) “Doesn’t want to come last? hmmm!” All the races I’d watched she came last. After all her competitors are older, bigger, stronger and definitely more experienced. I wondered whether she understood what coming last meant! Obviously she did because the announcement would be made at the end of each race. Sometimes as they neared the finishing line her sister or brother would shout “I WIN! I WIN! I WIN! YOU ARE THE LAST!” From my observation, several times the older ones will break the rules, take short cuts, start before her and indulge in many other unfair practices, to win (just like many other siblings we know). But winners are winners. Sometimes the end justifies the means. She couldn’t complain because she wasn’t the one setting the rules and cannot out argue them, anyway since she is soft — spoken.
What stood out for me and actually became a learning point was the determination to stick out in spite of the obvious outcome.
One definite thing is, every time she is starting off, her goal is not to be the last. And that determines her behavior and responses along or during the race. “Whether I feel pain or get tired I must soldier on”. The pain or fatigue doesn’t compromise her focus on the goal. The outcome of previous races don’t deter her. In fact every time the races are called out she enthusiastically jumps onto her bike and rides out to the field. I believe she believes one time she will win. I imagine she looks forward to the day when she will also shout I WIN!!!! I’m sure that day will come because scripture says, the race is neither to the swift nor the strong but chance comes to all. And this picture produces the passion and pushes her on in spite of the pain, fatigue and perpetual losing (not to mention the teasing from the winners.)
After this conversation I looked at the plans and resolutions I had made at the beginning of the year. The progress of most of them was quite saddening and concerning. Some had been written off or subconsciously transferred to next year. I took time to dig up the reasons for that position. For some I just lost of morale. Others I compared myself to others who seemed to be hitting and accomplishing every resolution and when I looked at my position and the time left to the end of the year, was tempted to fold my hands and throw in the towel.
Most of the projects required moving out of comfort zones such as waking up a little earlier. Doing something about them before going to bed. Approaching people for advice. In some instances I tried and sadly whenever I met with a little resistance, I felt rejected. A failure. I then developed cold feet and dropped them altogether. When I took the total of the reasons cum excuses, I could only sum them up in one phrase: Lack of discipline.
I envied my daughter’s resilience as I ashamedly realized that she was exhibiting a disciplined character at that tender age.
Its 4 months to the end of the year. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this situation. Probably you started off with enthusiasm and excitement but along the track gave up. Let us look at some of the mental bumps we can put up to avoid a backward slide to another year of unaccomplished goals.
Adopt the attitude of “I have put my hand on the plough. No looking back”. There will be a stretching and discomfort. There will be pain and fatigue. After all nothing grows in comfort. You may have to trudge through some days or seasons in order to achieve some goals. Many sacrifices will have to be made and some moments will not be pleasant. Don’t give up. don’t quit. Muhammad Ali, a boxing great, said,” I hated every minute of training but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” No wonder we quote him.
In case of resistance when seeking for help, try another time or ask someone else. Bottom line is; don’t drop the project. Develop an enduring spirit that can stay the course. Lionel Messi said, “I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” Victory doesn’t come on a silver platter. Behind every talented and successful individual lies a mountain of training. What we perceive as talent is nothing more than our true potential harnessed and enhanced.
It’s time to ignore all distractions and set our heads like flints for the finish line. If you failed at your last attempt, get over it. That was yesterday. Today is a new day. The biggest obstacle you may have to overcome may be in your mind. Face this last quarter with a renewed resilience to achieve what you set out to do at the beginning. Do an inventory of where you are and identify the dream killers or delayers. Is your vision clear? Is what you want to do or where you want to go clear? If not make it clear. Someone said a clear vision gives a child — like faith and brings joy. It will re — energize you and give you the impetus to rise again in case you had fallen. Be clear about what you want to accomplish this year with your voice, your business and your story.
If the vision is clear then turn your attention to the chief resolution thief: Procrastination. Somebody once said that procrastination is the arrogant assumption that God owes us another opportunity to do what you had time to do. Some people put off things until their death bed. So how do we confront this resolution stealer? If you are in the habit of putting off things till the last minute this can be a quick solution; set a start date and focus on when you will start the task and not when you hope to finish it. If the excuse is I’m busy, it is an indication of avoidance or fearing to face a challenge head on. Instead of admitting the weakness, we place the blame on having other important things to do. Take a moment of introspection and ask yourself, “What am I really avoiding?”
Whether you procrastinate under the excuse ‘I’m so busy’ or ‘I work well under pressure’ or ‘I’m so lazy now’ or ‘I have another idea’, you need to take a moment of introspection, identify your procrastination style and deal with it head on.
What weaknesses will you overcome today that you won’t drag into tomorrow? Die to them. Honor yourself and the calling on your life. Be purposeful, productive, positive and profitable. One of the things you are in charge of is your effort. Have deadlines, goals and determination. Be decisive because decisions determine the future.
Remember, even if you get tired or feel pain, don’t stop otherwise you will come last.