In the previous blog, I started sharing three tips to help you break through the walls and obstacles in your life that could be preventing you from accomplishing your goals. Once you are ready to forget your life, you’ll be prepared to finish the race and focus on the task.
FINISH THE RACE
Many of us are good at starting things. We start projects...
We start digital scrapbooks...
We start running…
We start movie subscription services...
We start college…
We start cooking…
But we don’t finish.
It took years of running marathons before my friend Mike qualified for the Boston Marathon. After starting strong with 7-minute per mile pace, his glycogen depleted while negative thoughts and fatigue filled his mind and body. But he was determined to push through mile 18 and mile 19 because he didn’t come this far to drop out of the Boston Marathon. Before Mike could finish, he had to start.
One way to stay in the race is to start. Mike started with 5Ks before running marathons.
In a post for CrusherTV, a program to help people with ADHD conquer procrastination, Alan Brown wrote:
“Think back to Dr. Neil Fiore’s wise advice (not to worry about finishing – and instead, setting a time to just start). This is itself a great procrastination hack. But it’s not always so easy to “just start” when there’s a powerful sense of overwhelm and dread; or when we’re reluctant to begin because we know we’ll just get bogged down soon after starting; or when we just don’t know where to start.
Hack #2 solves this. It is simply to give yourself permission to fail.
That’s right. Drop all expectations of any success, let alone finishing. The only thing you need to do is start, with no demand on yourself other than to give it a few minutes’ effort.
If you start and bang away for 45 seconds then give up? That’s a victory. If you re-start and bang away for 5 more minutes but then get stuck? Victory! Twelve minutes? VICTORY!!”
At the beginning of a semester, it’s okay to try different clubs, activities, and sit in on classes. Eventually, you need to finish starting and start finishing. You start finishing by making and keeping commitments to others and to yourselves.
Another way to stay in the race is to finish. Beth Main shared tips on “How to Finish What You Start.” For people with ADHD or ADD, “keeping a mental to-do list just doesn't work. It takes up brain bandwidth you could be using for other things. You forget stuff, and then remember while you're in the middle of doing something else.” People who are impulsive can be stressful themselves and others. Main recommends “detailed planning” to stay on task.
Work with your admissions officer, advisor, or professor to create a course of action for your major. Review your plan at the end of each semester, quarter, or block and make necessary adjustments.
At Spalding University (Louisville, KY), their block scheduling allows students to take one or two classes every six weeks, with one week between blocks. This allows athletes to take one class while focusing on their sport and students with learning disabilities to focus on a few concentrated classes instead of four and a lab for sixteen weeks.
Work with a college pastor or spiritual mentor to grow deeper in your faith while away at college. Too many students quit following Jesus because their faith was shallow – like seeds tossed on a sidewalk.
Develop a habit of praying, reading and studying the Bible, serving others, discipling others, and worshiping God with a local church.
And don’t procrastinate until Christmas. The first six weeks of the new school year is formative to your success. Beth Main shared two reasons why we put things off: “disorganization — you aren't clear on what you need to do — and disinterest — you don't feel like doing it.” Be creative and implement personal rewards and consequences each semester. Celebrate small successes to help you remain committed to finish the race.
If you are not committed to Christ, any obstacle or hill or crisis can knock you out of the race. During the 2006 Winter Olympics, snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis lost the cross-country gold when she fell – showboating or "snow"boating – on the last hill. The one thing Paul wanted to do was finish the race. Your life matters to God. So even when the course is difficult, finish the race by continuing to grow in your faith, honor God, and serve others.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” The first step to finishing the race is taking the first step. And Paul is confident “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
FOCUS ON THE TASK
Despite the obstacles, Paul remained focused. He wanted to complete the task of sharing God’s grace with everyone without hesitation. It’s okay to struggle with your faith in college. Just don’t do it in isolation. Along with joining a local church, connect with a group of dormmates, people on your intramural kickball team, or co-workers and focus on the task.
Like I mentioned in the previous post, too many students are not getting the higher education they need to fulfill God’s calling in their life. God wants to equip you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people you work with in your industry.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Paul, Acts 20:24).
Are you ready to finish?
Student-athletes who run cross country, swim long distances, or endure long tennis matches know that moment when they have to decide to dig deep to stay in the race or give up and fall on their faces. You know that pushing yourself mentally and physically to compete and complete the race, swim, or match would be the best story ever! It’s also just as easy to grab a protein drink and a shower when your mind and body are ready to end the madness.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the educational race, more than 25 percent of high school students drop out before graduation. More than 30 percent of college students drop out before their sophomore year. Too many students are not getting the higher education they need to fulfill God’s calling in their life.
In the book of Acts, the author (many believe it was Luke) recorded the acts of the apostles and shared them with Theophilus. Toward the end of the book, we read Paul’s words: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
I want to share three tips to help you break through the walls and obstacles in your life that could be preventing you from accomplishing your goals. In this blog, I’ll write about how to forget your life. In the next blog, I’ll conclude by writing about finishing the race and focusing on the task.
FORGET YOUR LIFE
When Paul said I consider my life worth nothing to me, he wasn’t saying that his life, or any life, was not important. He wasn’t being fatalistic. He wasn’t saying that wisdom, laughter, education, work, shopping, or eating chocolate cake was bad. Even King Solomon tried all of that and discovered that everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). (Okay, maybe he had fig cakes, instead of chocolate.)
Paul was saying that he did not value his life above the calling God had given him. We have multiple callings in our life: salvation, vocation, occupation, and avocation. Your salvation begins when you confess your sins and trust Jesus Christ with your heart. If you are ready to make this decision, read this and then share your decision with a Christian friend, pastor, or me.
As you learn to pray, read your Bible, experience life, and discover your interests, you will hear God’s calling for your vocation as a carpenter, welder, engineer, nurse, or missionary. Then you can choose the best path to learn a trade or attend college after high school.
Paul valued and enjoyed life! He loved taking risks (he was bold), being outdoors (tentmaker), and traveling (mission journeys). He just wanted to be obedient to the teachings of Christ and follow His example.
When you are ready to forget your life and focus on the Lord, you are making the most important decision to stay in the race.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.