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Keep On Pushing: Finish Strong

Happy Wednesday morning to you!

I have to admit, it really doesn’t feel like Wednesday but of course it is Wednesday!

Welcome to Wednesday!

Welcome to Hump Day!… as we work to get over the hump of this final week of the year. In a few days 2017 will be in the history books.

Belated Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza!

If you don’t observe any of those events and you see the holidays simply as an opportunity to eat, drink and be merry, then more power to you. Happy holidays!

I know how tempting it is to remain in the holiday mood and just kinda waltz through the next four days of the year, celebrate the New Year in style and spend the next week or so recovering from all of the festivities before finding your groove again.

I know that there are a lot of individuals and businesses who are putting off making certain decisions or taking action on something because they want to until after the holidays.

My view is that the fact that we have designated a few days of the year as holidays doesn’t mean that life stops; does it?

Of course I am not trying to throw cold water on the party. I definitely love to enjoy myself as much as anyone else but I think it is entirely possible to enjoy the festivities while at the same time taking the kinds of actions that are going to move our purpose forward and that’s the message I would like to share this week. Every week, we get together to explore how we can get over the hump and finish the week strong. I think it is also important to finish the year strong.

Finish strong” is phrase that is often used in sports.

Basketball players are told to finish quarters strong.

In football, they have the two-minute drill. They use it to finish games strong.

On the running track, sprinters and long distant runners alike are told and taught to finish strong.

That is because you could have played a brilliant game or ran a great race from the beginning but if there is a lapse in focus and intensity in the waning moments; it could cause you to give up all the gains you made and you could very well end up losing.

So it is really important to finish strong because it gives you an amazing psychological boost. It gives you an injection of confidence, the effects of which carries over to the next time you are in the competition arena.

The idea of finishing strong in sports is a really good metaphor — an important lesson and strategy for our lives as well. Finishing strong means that you don’t have to dig yourself out of a ditch to get back to the starting line. Instead, you get to create a new platform from which you can launch to the next level. So, finishing strong is a really good recipe for success in both our personal and professional lives.

You might be thinking….”How can I finish strong when I’ve had such a poor start?”

Let me reassure you that you don’t necessarily have to have a strong start to finish strong. I am sure you have watched sporting events where the athlete or the team struggled through the entire game but they persisted —they kept on pushing and eventually were able to finish strong. Sometimes even winning the event.

In life, there are so many people who simply did not have a great start. Perhaps, they started on the wrong side of the tracks.  Perhaps they were disadvantaged because of their race, ethnicity or some other factor. Nonetheless, they were still able to finish strong. What is so awesome about life and sets it apart from sports is that someone else does have to lose in order for you to win. They don’t have to have a poor showing in order for you to have a great result.

So here are my five A’s on how to finish strong:

  1. ASSESS

At this point in the year, with four days to go, if you have not yet done so, now would be a good time to take a “time out” so that you can assess your situation. It is time to review and evaluate your progress. Where are you in relation to those New Year’s resolutions you set last year this time?

Are you on track?

Did you surpass them?

Did you fall short?

What challenges did you take on and overcome in the last twelve months?

What strategies did you use? How did they work out for you?

Write down your successes. Take note of the areas in which you have fallen short as well.

Now, it is really important that you don’t allow yourself to get crippled and fall into a  state of paralysis by analysis.

Where you are is where you are!

The whole purpose of this assessment exercise is to simply figure out where you are.

Having this knowledge is important because it will help you in determining:

What your next steps should be.

What new goals you need to set for yourself.

Which old goals needs to be redefined or just merely refined.

What new strategies do you need to employ.

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE

It may not be apparent to you but you are not the same person you were a a year ago. And no, I am not talking about the few extra pounds you’ve probably packed on over the holidays. Notwithstanding, you are essentially not the same person. Over the last twelve months, you have grown a little wiser and a little smarter just from the life experiences you’ve had.

Sure, you may have had some failures but who hasn’t?

You’ve also had to success and the accumulation of those life experiences —the success and failures have deposited a kernel of increased understanding and wisdom. So acknowledge that!

Acknowledge that you are still in the game and as such you still have an opportunity to make your dreams come true.

  1. APPRECIATE

It’s quite possible that you are nowhere near where you want to be.

You probably started out the year with so much hope and enthusiasm and optimism and now with only four days left to go, you realize you are not quite were you thought you would have been by this time of the year and you might be feeling a little deflated.

It’s ok, man….show yourself some love!

Forgive yourself. Appreciate yourself for who you are.

Yes, you may not be quite there yet but show some appreciation and gratitude for all the goodness that is still permeating your life.

They say that if you stick your elbows out when you wake up and there is no wood on either side, then it is a great day!

It seems to me that we are all having a great day right now!

So appreciate it!

For a moment, imagine that a good friend came by and confided in you about the many ways in which they have messed up. If that happened, I am sure you would have shown them some compassion. You would have shown them love, forgiven them and encouraged them to Keep On Pushing! You need to do the same for yourself!

Resist the temptation to be perfect. You may not be where you want to be but take solace in the fact that you made the effort. Be cognizant of the fact that you can’t control the results but you can always determine the actions you take.

  1. ACTION

My physics teacher told me that an object at rest tends to remain at rest.

In other words, if you do nothing….you get nothing.

Pablo Picasso famously said that “Action is the foundational key to all success”

So, once you’ve done your assessment and have determined where you are in relation to where you want to be — then it is time to take other actions:

Chose some new goals

Revisit your strategies and figure what if any adjustments are needed

Create a plan to achieve those goals. They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Once you have taken all those actions, then there is a far more concrete, significant action that you must take.

That is….YOU MUST GET TO WORK!!

You have to apply what I call some elbow grease to put yourself in a position to make your dreams come true.

  1. AFFIRM YOURSELF

We all have that little critic on our shoulders or the back of your mind with its incessant chatter, criticizing and talking about all the ways in which we have failed and simply not measured up.

I can see how having started the year with such high expectations, how discouraged we can become when we realize the clocks running out and we still have not achieved many of the things that we had set out to achieve.

Look, it is time to start changing the internal dialogue —the thought patterns you have been entertaining all along. It is time to start affirming ourselves. It’s time to acknowledge and start reaffirming in ourselves that we are able, capable and worthy. The results you have gotten in the past (unless you allow them to) doesn’t have to determine the results you can create in the future.

Affirm that!

Start believing in yourself and you’ll be able to finish strong and set yourself up for a strong start to the New year.

Keep On Pushing!

Copyright © 2017 Devon Harris & Associates LLC 2017

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