Sometimes I think that I must be the Queen of Self-talk. However, I think this healthy habit actually serves me well.
One of my favorite things to preach to myself is to “Finish strong”.
I first remember using this exhortation 5 or 6 years ago when we were vacationing in Hawaii. We had saved up money and air miles for 10 years to be able to take all of our kids and their families. All 23 of us arrived on Saturday, which included 4 babies, aged 4-9 months old, that were conceived and born after the trip idea. We all divvied up into four condos. By Wednesday I felt super fussy. Planning fun for 23 people was feeling overwhelming. I was sleep-deprived, the large group dynamics were exhausting, especially with meal planning, and I felt keenly the pressure to keep everyone happy. And in addition to these normal large family vacation challenges, our unit was being reroofed, so every day we would come back to all kinds of dirt all over our room, even the bedding.
That morning the words, “Finish strong” came into my head. I was jarred with a stark awareness that I could ruin everything if I didn’t hold it together. The funny thing is that when I changed my mindset it became so much easier.
My “Finish strong” phrase has been used countless times since, and always with remarkable results.
This nice axiom works for just about any situation, big or small.
Some kinds of things the motto “Finish strong” is useful for:
- Enduring a difficult situation at home.
- Completing an arduous task or undertaking like a class, degree, or project.
- Getting through a trying day at work.
- When you feel overwhelmed with your autoimmune condition, your diabetes, your cancer, or other illness.
- Finishing a hike or a strength workout, or even a 5k, 10k, or 1/2 marathon.
- Sitting through a boring meeting with exasperating people.
- Living out your allotted days of life to the end with grace.
Sometimes we start out enthusiastically and then get disillusioned or bored. Or unanticipated trials arise and we want to throw in the towel. Despair, monotony, weariness, disappointment, or apathy can set in and you can feel yourself start to unravel mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically.
Pep talks can come in handy, and can proverbially save the day. Or the vacation. Or the relationship.
It actually seems like a no-brainer. After all, the opposite would be “finish weak” and I really cannot imagine a scenario where that would be favored. Your life will a lot better if you end well, whatever that thing is, big or small if you don’t give up, and you finish strong.
Words like mental toughness, resilience, perseverance, tenacity, patience, determination, and fortitude come to mind. It also makes me think of that great movie, True Grit.
Let’s talk physical now for a sec.
While “Finish strong” started out in my mind having mindset implications related to encouragement, attitude, and motivation, lately I have been thinking a lot about physical fitness and strength, and I believe it is also a fitting motto for finishing life physically as strong as possible. As a registered nurse in a large clinic, I see sprite, able-bodied 90-year olds and I see weak 70-year olds with walkers and canes. I want to be like the former, not the latter. And while spending time in the High Sierras, I also see strong 80-year olds who can out hike me, something which I am working on remedying as quickly as possible.
Anyway, one goal of mine is to be physically strong as long as possible. For about a bazillion reasons. And they are all good.
And now a bit of a spiritual detour.
As a Christian, I always like to view everything under the lens of Scripture to see if a particular thought or action holds up. Check out a few verses from the NASB about strength and being strong.
- Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.
- Proverbs 31:17, “She girds herself with strength, and makes her arm strong“.
- Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future”.
- Isaiah 40:29, “He (the everlasting God, vs.28) gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.”
- Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary”.
- Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might”.
My spiritual conclusion, briefly and in part, is this: being strong is Biblical, it is a worthy pursuit, God is our strength, God will supply strength, and being strong is even actually commanded.
Where are you on the grit scale?
Amazing? Not so amazing? As with everything, you can improve, you can get tougher. “Finish strong!” is a great motto when you haven’t been doing that well, when you’ve fallen off the wagon, when you’ve messed up. You can start this minute being better and finishing strong, no matter how poorly you started out on something, no matter what that something is.
My tagline is LIVE LIFE WELL, “well” as in healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually, and “well” as in successfully. I am convinced that the “Finish strong” mindset is an important key to success, as well as in pleasing God. You can be a star performer in life by using that admonition often. So preach it, and preach it often to yourself. Try it out!
Cheering you on!
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