Forming a Habit of Finishing Strong

It seems like my daughter has a million songs on her iPod. When we are driving together I let her be in charge of selecting the music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her play one song all the way to the end. Once the good part is over she moves on to the next song, and the next, and the next, randomly skipping from song to song. I’m not sure if it’s boredom or just an anxiousness to listen to as many songs as possible before we reach our destination.

My daughter’s song switching reminds me of how we can be tempted to finish short on other things like projects, careers, and relationships. I believe that finishing strong is such a defining character trait. People who see activities or commitments through to completion are reliable because of their consistency during different seasons and conditions.

It makes me wonder, what causes us to not finish strong? Does our ability to finish the little things in life help us create a habit or a philosophy on how we finish some of the bigger things in life? 

The end is the most crucial

Working out on a treadmill or stair climber always tests my resolve to finish strong. I’m always anxious to hurry up and be done with cardio so I can get on to some other exercise. Sometimes I’m just anxious to leave the gym!

The last two minutes of my timed cardio seems to last ten minutes! Why? Because I’m finished with most of it, and what difference will it make if I stop two minutes early? Thoughts like these go through my head:

  • Shouldn’t I reward myself for driving to the gym today? Stopping two minutes early could be my reward.
  • How many calories will I burn in these last two minutes? I’ll just not eat a few chips to make up the difference!
  • I’ll walk fast to my car to keep my heart rate up, and that will equal my last two minutes of cardio.

Ha ha. Seriously, these last two minutes are what I now refer to as my “discipline training.” I hold myself accountable to finish and not take a two-minute short cut that will only hurt my results – and not the calorie burning results. My examples illustrate how I can make that up.

A habit for life

I’m talking about my results in being a person who sees things through to the end.  I force the completion of my last two minutes because I’m trying to form a habit of finishing strong on the little things, so my character will naturally tend to finish strong on the big things like my marriage, my career, my relationships, my walk with God, my parenting, and so on.

Finishing strong is a habit we form throughout life. That’s why we always had the rule with our kids that when they wanted to start something – whether it was basketball, karate, guitar, baseball, dance, horseback riding, a new puppy, a car, college, or a new job – they had to  finish the season. There were times when they wanted to quit too early, and I’ll confess there were times when I wanted to let them quit, but we just couldn’t because we wanted to instill in them the principle of finishing things out.

This week I want to encourage you to reflect on your life and your current conditions, and consider how you want to finish strong. Also, the next time you’re on that treadmill put in an extra two minutes for me!

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  • Sunny Zunker says:

    Dear Linda,

    I forgot to tell you that I almost let my GPA slip a few weeks ago.

    I was just tired and exhausted physically and mentally, from studying and working 24/7. It just so happened that I read this article you posted that week when I was about to deliver a capstone paper that had yet to surface in the form of sentences let alone pages. Research and trips to the library had not been made as I was just pooped. 3 days remained until final class night. Reading your article, somehow gave me the extra umph I needed to clench my wrist and think I can do this! And, I did. I got an A in the class b/c I “finished strong.” 🙂

    Thanks Linda!!!


    • Linda says:

      Wow, Sunny congratulations on your “finishing strong A!”
      I am honored and humbled to play any tiny role in motivating your efforts however that was all you sister! Way to go!