First impressions count. But so do endings.
Like a lot of you, I was riveted by the Tokyo Olympic games this summer, eyes glued to the TV screen, as I cheered on my favorite athletes and became inspired by their hard work and dedication. You couldn’t help but feel invested in their outcomes, and living vicariously through their successes and challenges.
And a remarkable thing to witness was their ability to dig deep and find another level to ensure success.
A common thing I noticed in competitions like long distance swimming and running was that many of the top athletes would keep a steady pace throughout the race—some were even lagging behind the others—then in the final lap, they’d somehow find another level of intensity to surge past the competition and across the finish line.
It makes you realize that how you end is just as important, if not more, as how you begin. The end is not the time to give up. There is always an opportunity to win, to shine above the rest, to pick ourselves back up after a challenge, to achieve what you thought was impossible.
We can apply a similar strategy to our own lives. Whether it’s putting the final touches on a manuscript or following up after a meeting or just enjoying our last day of vacation, we can make those final moments last, and make them feel more dynamic and meaningful.
While we may not all have the stamina of an Olympic athlete, we can still take a cue from them to maintain a steady pace and ensure that we not only make it across that finish line, but that we make it across with energy and enthusiasm.
Here are some tips and strategies you can use to make your last impression count.
Finish the week strong
By the time Sunday rolls around, many of us experience the “Sunday Scaries,” that sense of dread and anxiety that pervades the end of the weekend when you start anticipating the stresses of the week ahead.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can combat the Sunday Scaries and relish every last drop of your well-deserved weekend.
Plan something social. Plan a fun and exciting day with friends and family on Sunday. Instead of designating Sunday as a day for chores and errands, make it a day where you can surround yourself with the ones you love. Host a brunch or dinner or game night. Meet your friends at the park or a museum. The Sunday Scaries won’t seem as bad when you have something exciting to anticipate, and you'll feel like you lived your off-time to the fullest.
Do something mindful. Alternatively, you can also use your Sunday as a day for mindfulness and self-care. Try going for a long walk in the park without your devices. Set aside some time with your markers and coloring book. Treat yourself to a massage or a long bath. Try journaling to reflect on your past week and give yourself a pep talk for the week ahead. Grounding yourself in a relaxing activity will go a long way towards making you feel refreshed and ready for Monday.
Set yourself up for the week. If the anticipation of the work week is causing stress, try setting aside 20-30 minutes to do a weekly planning session. With your planner, make a list of all the things you accomplished last week. You’ll feel so much more accomplished when you start off on a positive note and this will give you the confidence and momentum to strategize for the upcoming week.
After taking note of last week’s accomplishments, make a list of tasks that you should do for the week ahead. Schedule all meetings, deadlines, and tasks in your planner or digital calendar. Sometimes, we feel stressed when we think about upcoming meetings or deadlines, but seeing them on paper makes them less overwhelming. And once you get it down on paper, you won’t have to worry about missing anything.
You can try one of these techniques or mix and match to see what works for you. Maybe conduct a planning session in the morning so that it can ease your mind and allow you to be present for a fun social outing with friends in the afternoon, then wind down with a relaxing self-care routine in the evening.
Finish the month strong
When it comes to goal-setting, we have a tendency to pour all our energy and enthusiasm into that first month. The first leg always seems like the most fun: we’re excited and enthusiastic about our new shiny goal and we give it our all. But this can easily result in burnout and is the reason why many people tend to quit their goals a month into setting them.
Keep a steady pace. If you want to go big with your goals, consistency is key. It’s about showing up and doing the work, day in and day out. So if you’re trying to write a manuscript, don’t attempt to write the entire book in one month. Do a couple of pages a day. If you want to go to the gym, don’t go every single day at first; try going once or twice a week, then build your way up.
Take pride in your progress and consistency. During the last week of the month, celebrate your achievements and build on your momentum. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment by the end of the month, and you can use this to motivate yourself to keep going in the upcoming month.
Finish the year strong
Oftentimes, we lose a handle on our goals due to circumstances beyond our control. Here are simple ways that you can still finish the year strong to set yourself up for success in the new year.
Incorporate new habits. One effective way to finish the year strong is to start developing new habits and create a steady routine. Maybe this means incorporating a journaling or mindfulness routine so that you can feel mentally and spiritually nourished. Or swapping unhealthy snacks with foods that energize you. Or creating a calming evening routine so that you can feel refreshed in the morning. Establishing these positive habits at the end of the year will help guarantee success in the new year because you won’t be busy introducing a new goal along with building new habits. You’ll already have a successful routine in place and will be well-positioned to hit the ground running.
Reflect on your year in full. It's easy to gloss over a year; after all, it is a long time to try to remember. However, instead of thinking in general terms, take the time to review your year in full. When were you happiest? What was your biggest success? What did you learn? What was the hardest part?
When you learn from your past, you can plan a more amazing future that is informed by your actual experiences, habits, and potential.
What are some other ways that you can finish strong?
Maybe it means celebrating the last day before your birthday and showing gratitude for the past year. Or having a fun adventure on the last day of your vacation. Or going out with coworkers on your last day of work to forge lasting ties. These little changes will make those last moments have more impact, making them even more memorable.