I’m a starter and always have been. Maybe you are, too.

It’s my biggest strength, sure, but it’s also my biggest weakness. It often leaves me and my team vulnerable and even holds us back.

Beginning things is an insatiable addiction. I’ve been working over the past few years, trying to train myself into being addicted to finishing instead. But this point, I think, does the best job of that:

To finish, we must always focus on how far we have to go and never how far we’ve come.

Great runners don’t pat themselves on the back when leading after the first leg.

While considering “finishing”, I was reminded of my experiences backpacking and mountain climbing. When tackling an ascent or a long hike, we often have no option but to focus constantly on how far we have to get to the goal rather than how far we’ve come.

When hiking, sometimes there’s no water anywhere but the 12 miles ahead where we’ve marked our goal for that night’s camp. And when climbing a mountain, it’s only when we reach the top that we get the deep satisfaction of having our view of the earth double.

To keep myself motivated on the trail, there was something I often repeated to myself, while picturing the destination in my mind:

You are nowhere near here.

Again—to finish, we must always focus on how far we have to go and never how far we’ve come.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s the distance itself that motivates us to get back to work!
  2. In addition, keeping our eyes fixed on the gap between where we are and where we want to be helps us focus our creativity and intellect on ways we can close that gap quicker.
  3. Thinking of the goal and our distance from it helps us prioritize our time and cut out what’s unnecessary. What’s more, focusing on how far we have to go keeps us from starting too many things we shouldn’t be taking on. Life becomes easier to balance, as a result.
  4. Keeping our eyes on the goal keeps us motivated and more likely to push through the day-to-day discouragements and distractions.
  5. Most importantly, either we are doing this, or we aren’t—and if we’re doing it, we better get moving, cos daylight’s burning!

I wanted to find a way to continually reset my mind on the distance ahead rather than the progress behind, so I made this iPhone wallpaper as a reminder:

You are nowhere near here.