You didn't come this far to only get this far
We shall never have more time. We have, and always had, all the time there is. No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow. Keep going... Concentrate on something useful.
— Arnold Bennett
The value of a moment comes from how long that moment stays with you after it happens. Lately, it’s been a small idea drifting through my mind for the past couple of weeks.
Reflecting and having the right sense of gratitude for how far you’ve come is hard. We get told “gratitude is good for us” but often mistake one type of gratitude for another—which hurts our mental health.
It’s explained well by Anne-Laure that more often than not, what we see as typical gratitude can instead be:
Shame-based gratitude - “you might be struggling but be grateful for what you have.”
Comparative gratitude - “things could be worse.”
Inauthentic gratitude - “it might not be useful to you but be grateful for what you’re given.”
It’s common in all points of our journey through life. But it’s more frequent when we’re trying to reach certain goals.
I’ve encountered all of these more times than I can count, to the point where it’s unnoticeable when I express these forms of gratitude. They’re often toxic behaviours that are hard tethers to cut through.
The saying, you didn’t come this far to only get this far is one of the few phrases that ring through my ears when I need it most. The more I think about it, the more inspired I feel. There are more situations than I can count where I need to remind myself that I’m not done yet (during a race, a workout, struggling mentally, or during a tough relationship). It matters because I’ve come so far as a person, and I’m nowhere near ready to stop. Part of the essence of self-mastery lives by this conduct where, in other words, you keep up with what you started, finishing just as strongly.
Society is fast-paced. Results-driven. So it’s inevitable there becomes so much emphasis on reaching a finish line (or multiple finish lines) that the importance of the race gets left behind. The inflexion point shows itself when we reach the point where the quality of our work becomes less important than the idea of finishing it. Like when we had five minutes left in the school exam and scribbled anything that came to mind, even if it was pure nonsense. But we didn’t come this far for that.
There are times when we get so close to our mental finish line that we give up. It’s easier, we tell ourselves, to stop what we’re doing—citing that the potential improvement in this project is negligible—than to work hard and finish as strong as we started. That’s not a healthy standard to have.
Do you think I’d be proud of myself I wrote 80% of this email to give up on the final 20%? Or if I spent 80% of a discussion making my point clear only to cede my argument or demand in the final few minutes? On many occasions, starting is more important than finishing, but on many occasions after that, it’s about how you finish.
The point is when you work really hard for something, a better life, let’s say, it’s better to keep going and finish things the same way you started them. You can apply this to many things: health, money, friends, sex. But the important part is to live by the meaning behind your actions.
What I’ve Learned
What do you owe your younger self?
I don’t like looking back at old photos of myself—mostly because I know I’ll see the times I miss or regret. Elizabeth Filips explains it well in saying, “there’s something terrifyingly powerful about looking at yourself from the past”. You start to think about what you loved and hated about yourself, met or unmet needs, insecurities. It can feel like you want to go back and tell your younger self everything you know now. But it’s important to be kind to both versions of yourself because the more love you can give to each, the more happiness you can carry forward.
Follow passion, not money
I’m glad I fell in love with writing before learning how lucrative it can be. Many people have it the opposite way around; they choose something in order to get pleasure elsewhere. But I chose writing because I love writing to people. My love for it is in the foundations. Let your passion follow the same path (if you already do, perfect).
Do Better, not more
There’s so much opportunity in today’s world that we don’t need to divide our time trying to conquer multiple things. Focusing on one or two passions is enough and can multiply its rewards for us beyond our belief.
What’s on My Mind
99% of problems are not the end of the world. And even if it was the end of the world, none of our problems would matter.
A Question for you
What would you do differently if you had:
1 year to live
1 week to live
1 day to live
1 minute to live
Your readership is my favourite thing.