by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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I have news for you, there is no finish line.  There is no “I’ve made it” moment where you can kick back and not doing anything else and keep what you have.  Allow me to touch on four different areas of life that this same principal applies to.  There are a lot more, of course, but this is a start.

  1.  Friendships – You cannot expect to remain friends with someone if you do not communicate directly with one another on somewhat of a regular basis.  Yes, we all have friends that live far away and you may only get together every few years.  But if you are doing something to help maintain that relationship in between those times, you are able to feel like you “pick up where you left off” with them when you get the chance to be together.  This relationship has a foundation built that will withstand the distance and the time in between interactions.  But it can die off if you do not do anything to nurture it.  Don’t expect that someone will let you crash at their place if you show up in town unannounced and haven’t seen them in years.
  2. Marriage – Don’t stop dating.  That is what most relationship experts and psychologists will tell you is the best advice they can share.  There is no “We’re married so I no longer have to try” moment that you hit.  You cannot stay married if this is your approach.  No one wants to feel taken for granted, and this will lead to resentment and lack of connection over time.  The best way to kill the intimacy in your relationship is to stop making an effort.  If you think that now you are married you can stop doing the things that attracted your partner to you in the first place, you will find yourself in divorce court before long.
  3. Work – You cannot be on cruise control at some point, not having to do much work and expect to maintain that job.  You certainly will not be getting a promotion any time soon if this is your mentality.  I am not an advocate for working 70 hours a week for your whole life just to get ahead, but I AM saying that you might want to do it for much of your twenties, and then on an as-needed basis for the rest of your working career.  Most people are going to get bored in a job at some point, and the main reason is that you are not challenged enough to keep you interested.  You need something to motivate you and get you out of bed each day; work might not be that thing, but you are not going to last in a role that you hate for long either.  The money will at some point not be enough to make you tolerate things you just don’t want to do for another day.  Time to pick a new endeavor and restart the process of learning and growing.  Might be easier to put in some effort at your current job where yo are already an expert and avoid the rigors of the job market.
  4. Sports – Regardless of the level you play at, if you want to move forward at all, there is no coasting that is allowed.  I have known people who played at the same “recreational level” their whole lives, and they say they just do it for fun.  I don’t believe them; I think they want to be better, but not enough to work for it.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you rise to the highest level at something, you still need to work.  There is always someone who wants that spot, and they are probably working hard to get it.  You have to work as hard or harder than you did to get there, just to maintain your spot at the top.  You are now the target, the measuring stick that everyone else who is lower on the food chain is looking up at you knows as the standard to be met.  If you rest, you will get passed by…

These are four easy areas to use as a way to illustrate the need for constant work, growth and improvement.  To jump back into the sports analogy, if you are pitcher that only has a fastball pitch to strike people out with, at some point everyone will catch onto the fact that you throw a fastball when there are two strikes.  That makes you vulnerable.  How do you avoid being vulnerable?  You work hard to add other pitches into your repertoire so you keep people guessing.   You have to always be adding to your skillset and what you can “throw” at your competition.  If you stagnate, you will get passed by or become a also-ran.  You were good, had your moment, but then it went away.  You might be a flash in the pan, exceled in one shining moment, but never reached that level of performance again.  If you had the talent to do it once, then why not again?  Maybe it was your work ethic that was the problem…

I would say in today’s world, it is easier than ever to stand out.  So many people are trying to get by while doing the absolute bare minimum.  Quiet Quitting has become the new cool thing to do, but how many of those people are cut from their job when the recession hits and the company has to trim the payroll?  It doesn’t take much to stand out when surrounded by people who just aren’t trying.  And a little effort goes a long way; you probably don’t need to raise your hand too often to help out, give a little extra, to find yourself being the one promoted up the food chain.  The other struggle people have is they are so distracted.  Working with your phone right next to your keyboard, checking every notification that comes through right away, fractures your attention and makes you less productive.  If you could reduce this by half compared to those around you, think how much more you could get done in a day’s time.  That alone is probably enough to stand out.

So to summarize, there is no finish line.  The idea that there is a point in life where you can stop giving effort to any endeavor and just coast along is false.  This will bite you at some point; it may cost you a relationship, a divorce, or you may lose a job because of it.  If you are an athlete, you are never going to be so far ahead of your competition that you can get away with putting in minimal effort and stay on top.  Too many people want that spot, and they are willing to work.  HARD.  Hard like fighting as if they were the third monkey trying to get on Noah’s Ark, and its starting to rain kind hard.  Don’t forget, you were once willing to fight that hard too.

Stay hungry.  Find ways to motivate yourself.  Use the fear of falling off your pedestal at the top to be sure you work hard.  Don’t think that you have arrived and that you can stay there without at least the same amount of effort that it took to get you there in the first place.  If you don’t work, you will be replaced.  This goes for your job, your marriage and your other endeavors as well.

Get (back) to Work!

 

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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