This month I am wrapping up a two-year volunteer commitment.
My goal is to finish strong, but it's not easy.
Welcome to the top of an S Curve. It's true that this is a situation to be desired. You celebrate being here and what you've accomplished; you want to anchor your new behavior(s). It's also true that once you reach the top of the curve, you will need a new challenge.
But there's another piece to this puzzle of personal growth: once you know you are ready to move on, how do you stay where you are?
It's been said that we live a large percentage of our lives in the future or the past and a relatively small percentage “in the moment.” Time management expert Laura Vanderkam writes, “We can anticipate for a year and remember for decades. The challenge is that the present…has a disproportionate effect on our actions given its fleeting nature…. Bliss is possible in the past and in the future but seldom in the present.”
Our brains naturally look ahead, anticipate, and prepare for what is next. Or we prefer to dwell on past accomplishments rather than confront the challenge of acting constructively in the present moment. But we can only act NOW, have an impact, or influence now. This is a time to stay in the present. We can wipe out years of good work in a moment if we don't. It’s not a time to get lazy or brush off responsibilities with a sense of “that’s not mine to do; I'll just run out the clock.”
The endings of things stick in the memory. The way things finish is usually more memorable to us than most beginnings and far more memorable than almost anything that happens in the muddled middle when events can be moving very fast. Researcher Pierre Chandon says our first bite of food is the most enjoyable, but our last bite is the one that determines how we feel about the overall experience of eating it, our final impression.
It takes true commitment to the work you are doing and who you are doing it with to finish strong.
The ability to stay where you are is an S Curve of its own. It’s an opportunity to be resourceful and creative and to make something meaningful out of time that doesn’t feel valuable or even particularly valued by others.
As legendary Jedi, Master Yoda, says of a young, immature Luke Skywalker, as he attempts to stack rocks using only the Force: “All his life has he looked away. To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.”
Yes, leap. But first, go for the strong finish.
In a marriage, the goal is to figure out what works and stay in the sweet spot in perpetuity. The ideal is not to exhaust the potential of the relationship and start looking to leap to a new relationship. The sweet spot in marriage is a moving target; individuals change and so do the seasons of our lives. There are new mini curves to climb. As Ana Mann says, a marriage should be a “safe space” to make mistakes, learn, and bring new ideas, discoveries, and ambitions to the relationship. Even when your relationship is already good, these are the things that deepen it further.
I believe there is something for everyone to learn about their relationships and personal growth from this episode, whether currently married or not. So, we are giving away 10 copies of the Mann’s book, The Go-Giver Marriage. At the end of the podcast, we tell you how to qualify!
As always, thank you for being here.