Stay Focused on Your Finish Line


Two weeks ago, I had to keep telling myself to stay focused on my finish line. I was slugging it out in the half-marathon portion of the 70.3 Ironman triathlon event in Augusta, Georgia. Earlier that morning, I swam 1.2 miles and rode 56 miles through the South Carolina and Georgia countryside, but now my legs were saying, “Enough!” At least I had two legs to run on. (Don’t mock the tights…I get enough from my eighth grader!)

Whether you are in a race or not, when you’re struggling, perspective is everything, which is why you need to stay focused on your finish line. There are people in your life who are looking to you for inspiration and who need you to persevere. Read on…

Look at the picture above and you’ll see my good friend, Scott Rigsby, who is the first double-amputee to complete the Hawaiian Ironman (2007 & 2011).  Scott lost his legs in a devastating car accident after he graduated from high school. He could have quit and given up on life… in fact, he almost did, but then God broke through and did the unthinkable in his life.

I came across this poem (author unknown), which was a great encouragement to me this past weekend. It put a lot of things in perspective for me… I hope it encourages you today as you stay focused on your finish line.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Questions: What do you do when you feel like quitting? What helps you stay focused on your finish line?

I’d love your comments and questions.

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  • Peggy Shor

    When I feel like quitting, I will sit and read articles about “Staying Focused on the Finish Line”:o) Good timing with your article, and encouraging. A couple of other things I can think of is sleep as a lack of sleep can keep the body, mind and spirit/motivation down. Also, I have been getting into the habit of thinking what the next small step is, and, actually taking that step no matter how small and insignificant that step may be.

    • Joey O’Connor

      Peggy, that is so true…sleep is a great antidote…one of the most spiritual things I can do on certain days. Yes, what is the next small step…I could write a whole post on that. Glad the timing was right for you! Blessings!

  • Anne

    Joey, In my grief journey, I just got hit with the deepest slump so far and I am almost 6 months past Lou’s death. It was devastating and has lasted several days so far. What I am doing is what I know I should be doing in every day, one foot in front of the other, still reaching out, still trying to work, still seeking positivity and trying to ignore an immense amount of chatter from the enemy of my soul. I really do not have a clearly identified finish line right now, because I don’t know what it looks like yet. But I do know, clearly, WHO is walking beside me. Congrats on your feat!

    • Joey O’Connor

      Anne, my heart and prayers go out to you. Give yourself a lot of space and grace in this season. Aside from all euphemisms about grief, there are no timelines or specific stages/hoops for you to jump through. Everyone’s grief journey is different because you had a unique relationship to Lou, as does everyone who knew him. You may have picked it up already, but I highly recommend The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James & Russell Friedmann. It’s the text we used for many years for the Grief Recovery class I taught.

      It is a simple, easy read…very practical. Keep paying attention to your heart, let your feelings be what they are and keep taking those small steps every day. So glad you have the assurance and hope that God is walking with you every step. Yes, the enemy will try to beat you down…take every thought captive in Christ and remember that you are deeply loved by God. And many O’Connor’s, family and friends! Grace and mercy to you my friend.