It’s kind of a universal human condition. When we see the finish line, we slow down or get complacent. Psychologically something is going on in our heads that when a goal is in sight, we can begin to rest. Now, every runner knows this isn’t true, but there’s still a flood of relief when that goal comes in sight. Obviously, the trick is to look past the line to make sure that you still cross the goal at full speed.
But even that is perilous, because immediately after crossing the line, there is absolutely no urgency to keep going. But the thing is, are we truly ever finished?
Yes, take a breather, catch your breath. I respect that. I know the necessity of taking a break. All work and no play make Andy serially insane. Got it.
But finish lines are never truly the end. When I finish a novel, it’s not finished. I have to revise, then edit, then proof, many times over. And even when those are all done, and I can call the book truly completed, there’s the next one around the corner. There’s always another book, project, goal, adventure, something that I will need to lurch into the next run for. This is what life is.
I see the finish line mentality a lot in students because of how school works. The learning is broken up into distinct classes with finite periods and scopes. It becomes only natural to compartmentalize in such a way that when something is finished, is completely finished, especially when the class from one semester has no bearing on the upcoming classes.
I’ve been dealing with that this semester, especially here near the end, but I haven’t made much ground in cracking the problem, both for myself and for students. I think it’s a personal mindset issue, and it’s not a one-time thing, but a constant battle to fight the finish line.