Coaching Corner: The Final Push to the Finish Line
- Michael D. Warden Life Coach & Author
- 2006 1 Nov
For a dreamer like me, beginnings are an absolute blast! Whether I’m starting a new exercise routine, writing a new book, or launching a new coaching program, I find the entire creative process of starting something new exquisitely fun and exciting.
I love the energy it generates, the heady buzz of seeing an idea or dream begin to take shape in the real world, and the hope such new endeavors inspire in my heart. I am genuinely encouraged by the process of starting something new. Such creativity fuels my soul with hope and anticipation.
But beginnings only last for so long. Days pass, then weeks, then months, and before I know it the honeymoon is over. I find myself trudging through the lackluster “middle ground” of being neither here nor there. "What was I thinking?" I ask myself. "This is too hard. And what’s the point, anyway? I don’t think this is getting me anywhere." The excitement of launching my new endeavor has long since faded, but the view to the end goal still seems miles away.
My coaching clients are often confused by this season of dullness in the middle of the path to their dreams. They remember having so much energy and hope at the beginning. They were scared, of course. No new endeavor comes without some measure of fear. But their hearts were full of such courage! They had faith in God’s extraordinary love and support. They were ready to jump off the cliff of their dreams, and trust that the passions God put in their hearts would prove true, and that He would not let them fall.
And they did it! They jumped. And for a while, they flew! But then the excitement slowly faded. Flying turned to running; running to walking; and walking to barely trudging along. What happened? Where did all their faith go?
What my clients – and often I as well – fail to realize is that “starting” and “finishing” are radically different endeavors. It takes a certain kind of energy, faith and courage to take those critical first steps toward achieving the deep dreams that God has put in your heart. But it takes an entirely different kind of strength to carry that dream all the way through to the end.
It is still a strength borne of faith – but it’s no longer about adrenaline and excitement and the heady thrill of a dreamer’s hope. It’s about tenacity and determination. It’s about consistency and the absolute refusal to be denied your true heart’s desire. It’s about falling seven times, and getting up each time and starting again (Proverbs 24:16). It’s about keeping your eye on the finish line, pushing your limits, stretching your reserves, and never ever giving up no matter what.
Getting through the dull, monotonous “middle ground” of the journey to your dreams requires a different approach than you had at the beginning. You can no longer get by on the raw adrenaline and excitement that carried you at first. You need a new strategy to navigate the doldrums. And here it is:
Break down your goals into more manageable chunks. What can you do today to move you closer to achieving your dream? Focus your attention and your efforts there, and commit to doing just those one or two things each day. Then, tomorrow, do it again.
Set specific deadlines. Creating deadlines adds another layer of motivation you need to get through the rough times. But be sure the deadlines are both realistic and measurable. Also, with each deadline, include a personal reward for achieving it, as well as a cost for missing it. For example, each time you make a deadline, celebrate with a day at the spa or a night out with the guys. And if you fall short, take the money you would have spent on the celebration and donate it to charity.
Make yourself accountable. Let others know about your deadlines, and ask them to partner with you in holding you accountable to them.
Establish a “no wallowing” rule for yourself. Each time you stumble or fall short of your goal, don’t waste precious time and energy whining about it or wallowing in self-condemnation. Rather, just get up, dust off, and get right back in the game.
There’s a nugget of extraordinary wisdom tucked away in a little verse in of Ecclesiastes. It says, simply, that “the end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7). As exciting as it is to begin a new journey or to pursue a new goal, that experience pales against the sense of accomplishment, joy and gratitude that fills the hearts of those who hang on through the “middle ground” of their dreams and make it all the way to the end. The final push to the top of your chosen mountain may be the hardest part of your journey toward achieving your deepest dreams. But take heart, and don’t give up! The view from the peak will be more than worth the long season of faithful, consistent effort it takes to get there.
Michael D. Warden is a Professional Co-Active Coach, nationally certified through the Coaches Training Institute, and a member of the International Coach Federation. Michael’s clients’ one common trait is their passion to live a bigger life — to discover what they're here for, and boldly go after that vision with confidence and authenticity. Find more on his life and work at www.michaelwarden.com.