The following post is an excerpt from my first book, The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want. I’m sharing it with you here to help you finish whatever you’re working on – and finish strong.
Imagine you’re on a golf course. Actually, you’re on the green. You’re so close to the end—it’s mere steps away. The landscape may still have its ups and downs—its peaks and valleys—but the hazards are gone, and you’re perhaps just one shot away from your outcome.
Or are you?
Are the hazards gone?
Are you sure?
Perhaps the physical hazards are gone, the visible ones. But there are still hazards that can creep up on you while you’re at this point in the journey.
And you are the source of those hazards.
You get in your own way, especially when you’re so close to the end. There are a multitude of reasons why this is the case, not the least of which is fear.
Fear rears its ugly head throughout your time on the course, and it really makes itself known as you get closer to the end. Fighting fear is hard, too. Because it constantly finds new ways to attack. Steven Pressfield discusses this at length in his books The War of Art and Turning Pro. I use both of these books as touchstones when I lose sight of why I’m doing what I’m doing.
But I also do other things that Pressfield mentions in his work—albeit perhaps in a bit more of a nerdy slant.
For example, I use the color green as touchstone. Not because it is a pleasing color to surround yourself with, but because of my fondness for a certain ring-wearing superhero.
Of course, I’m speaking of the Green Lantern.
To be fair, there isn’t just one Green Lantern. There are many. My favorite happens to be the most popular one, Hal Jordan. And while I was disappointed with how the live-action movie version of my favourite hero turned out, I’m still a huge fan. That’s because his power comes from the tremendous amount of will he possesses.
That’s a power we all have. How much we’re willing to tap into it is another matter altogether.
The Green Lantern’s ring allows him to construct anything that he can will it to. Ultimately, we can all do the same. Everything that a Green Lantern builds is used for a purpose; it’s more about why something needs to be constructed than what needs to be constructed.
I tend to look at our lists and tasks in the same manner. I ask myself why I’m doing that task—or why I need to do it—rather than what I need to do. By doing that, I’m creating something with a greater purpose—something that will lead to a better result because I asked the right question. I asked about the why over the what.
Willpower means that the “why” comes first—well before the “what” enters the picture.
The what only comes in first place when you are afraid that you aren’t doing what you are really meant to be doing. And what keeps pushing you in that direction?
Which just so happens to the power that fuels the Green Lantern’s arch-enemy, Sinestro and his Yellow Lantern Corps. Fear keeps you in check, and keeps you checking off boxes that don’t really mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. You don’t explore boxes that are worth more than that because you’re afraid to go there. Because every little bit that you go beyond your comfort zone, gets that much scarier.
But with will at your side, you can go there. And you can keep going there time and time again, keeping fear at bay.
So I wear my Green Lantern ring often when I write. I have a miniature Hal Jordan on my desk right next to my “Beat Resistance” plate that I received when I bought Pressfield’s book Do The Work from Seth Godin’s Domino Project. I also have a Vision bobblehead there as well, which reminds me of my vision statement.
But the one thing that makes sure I see things through to completion is a picture of my two children placed inside a frame with the following quote underneath:
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
The title on the frame is “Priorities,” and unless I work on—and finish strong with—my short game, then I’m not keeping them at the forefront.
Find your touchstones. Use them to not just finish . . . but to finish strong.