I am currently in the final stages of edits for a book that will publish soon. When I submitted the manuscript in October, I breathed a sigh of relief, although the work wasn’t finished at that point.
In many ways, 2020 was a hard year for our family, without factoring in COVID-19 and all its ramifications. Many of last year’s stressors followed me into this year, and now, I find myself working toward completion of several big projects that still hover. Perhaps you are the same, struggling with focus and the required forward motion that leads to completion.
Following are thoughts on a slow finish:
Anyone feel anxious? I’m raising my hand and waving it frantically, like a school child begging to be called on for an answer, or to be chosen as a helper. Anxiety is not usually something I struggle with, but for most of us, anxiety jumped to a new dimension last year and hasn’t really leveled off. Anxiety slows and distracts, forcing thoughts away from the finish line and onto rabbit trails of fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt. Although challenging, it’s important to quell anxious thoughts and focus on next steps that bring finishing into view.
A check list helps me gain a visual overview of what is required for completion. Working the list, while simultaneously tamping anxiety, is a juggling act that frequently leaves me dropping balls, but I press on.
Practice Patience and Persistence
Ah, those challenging P-words! Patience and persistence are required to nudge a slow finish forward.
Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? This life lesson, in the pages of Aesop’s Fables, stuck with me. The over-confident hare frittered away his lead, got distracted, and lost sight of the ultimate goal, while the persistent tortoise maintained a steady pace, patiently endured mocking, and slowly moved forward until he reached the finish line.
Patience is not something most of us do well. We live in a hurry-up world, and sometimes we opt for fast rather than the kind of persistence that allows us to finish well. But no matter how long it takes, don’t get distracted or give up.
Focus on the Finish Line
When I’m exercising, I focus on mini goals to help me avoid quitting before the time I know I need to put in to gain maximum benefit. If I’m walking, I count down the number of houses to the next street. At the gym, I challenge myself to do my best in 10-minute increments. Those short targets help me stay focused on the ultimate goal, while chopping up the time into manageable increments. I may not win any prizes for speed, but I can congratulate myself for finishing.
The closing sentence of the story of the tortoise and the hare is oft-quoted— “The race is not always to the swift.” Speed may catapult you ahead, but steady forward motion is what ensures you reach the finish line.
When some element of life is taking longer than expected, and you are forced to wait, anticipating the rewards ahead helps make the slow-down bearable. Reaching completion provides a sense of accomplishment, something you miss out on if you allow anxiety, impatience, or loss of focus to rob you of finishing. Only after completion can you look back, see God’s hand in your circumstances, and glean lessons learned during a slow finish journey.
“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 NLT
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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