This Is Not The End

You can’t determine the end from where you’re at in this moment.

You can’t figure out where you’re going until you get there. That’s maybe the most frustrating thing I’ve ever said out loud. I’m writing this from my office, it’s 6 in the morning on July 5th. I’m just at the front edge of a new habit of rising at 5 a.m. and being in my office by 5:30 a.m. It has caused disruption in my sleep, with my wife, and with my family.

It is trying to fit in around with my more seasoned commitments: daily cardio and weight training, eating a low carb diet and working to be more effective with my time. But right now it all seems like a burden, and I’m working too much.

And I want to quit. I want to stop getting up at 5 a.m., I want to stop being tired when the alarm goes off. I want my son to stop saying things like “Dad, it doesn’t work that you’re so tired at night and then when I wake up in the morning you’re not there.” That frankly breaks my heart to hear. It has me questioning my commitment to fatherhood, the thing I say is most important to me in the world.

But here’s what I know. You can’t determine the end from where you’re at right now. Often, it seems, the only time we ever wonder if something’s over, if this is really the end, is when we’re in the middle of it. And usually, in my experience, it’s not going well. Things aren’t working out as planned, the results you’ve been striving for aren’t showing up, you don’t know what to do from here, and the future looks bleakly more of the same stretching out to the horizon. Sound familiar?

Go out on a high note. Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that the way we wish our heroes would go? Actors, who we love? Icons we respect? Celebrities we identify with? “They were so great in…..” is often quickly followed by “….and now they’re….”. It’s the eventual fall.

This view of perfection, the inspiring rise to success and accolades that we all want to believe is possible for humans is also possible for us. But no rise is perfect, no ascent is without pitfall. And no story is done as long as we’re still in it. And if the rise seems clear, it’s got a dark side we can’t see. And struggle is part of the process.

But that’s not what anyone wants. We want to go out on a high note. With great success, a bow from the stage, and then the curtain drops. Like in the movies. Guy-gets-girl, aliens are destroyed, bad guys are brought to justice.

Nobody knows what or when the end is. The ending only happens when you stop trying. Often we end something without fanfare, we just stop taking action. We stop trying.

When going back to doing that thing that you did before, when you’re no longer willing to take the bumps, bruises, and lessons that are doled out to you, that’s the end. And the question really becomes: “Is this the way you want it to end?”

Consider this just for a minute:

  • Maybe it’s not the end, maybe it’s just where you are today.
  • Maybe it’s not the end, maybe it’s just time for a shift.
  • Maybe it’s not the end, maybe you just need support you’re currently not getting.
  • Maybe it’s not the end, maybe you just need a hug.

Don’t give up. This is much for you as it is for me. Don’t give up on what you’re building, don’t give up on what you see is possible for yourself and the world. Just don’t give up. What you’re doing doesn’t have to be perfect, if you keep doing it, it will get better. There are examples of people all around us who’ve given up on creating something for themselves and the world. And it’s not better there. I know, I’ve been there before. There’s the fantasy that “If I went back to working for someone else it’d be easier”, “I don’t have to lose the weight, I was just fine before”, “That was too painful, I’m better off alone”. There’s no solace in the way it was. Knowing what you know now means that going back won’t have the blissful ignorance you’re hoping for. That’s not for you, and it’s not for me.

Break down to our inevitable. Resistance is a byproduct of ingrained habit. Standing for or being committed to a future vision is rife with days full of uncertainty, hesitation, and doubt. But that’s okay, it’s the predictable result of making a commitment bigger than you know how to deliver. And it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong, it just means you’re on the journey.

For me, I don’t think I have too much more for you today. I need to leave work earlier and be more consistent with my bedtime. I need to make sure that there’s more time with my kids during the day. That was the goal, and we just need a small adjustment to get back on track.  this isn’t the dramatic breakdown that it felt like yesterday or this morning.

Where are you in this story? What new commitments have you made that feel like they’re not working? Or in the break down? Or you’ve given up on? Or you’re getting ready to give up on? If you’ve been doing it all alone, maybe it’s time to do it with someone else.  If your trusted source of advice, insight or support isn’t working for you, maybe it’s time to find a new one. What are the voices around you saying about how things are going? Is it just in your head? Or are there trusted people around you, you should be listening to?

Maybe today is not the day to take stock. This is your process, this is not the end.  New habits go against the grain of what you’ve always done. New Habits and commitments feel uncomfortable, they seem like a lot of work, and some days they feel like they’re no fun. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do them, or that you should give up, or that this is the end.

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