Empowered to Finish Strong

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

How many times have you started something but then lost the will to continue? It may have been a diet, and exercise routine, or the overall goal to improve your health or curb an addiction. Finding the desire to start is one thing – finding the grace and will to continue is another…but it is possible.

I had been working to complete the intake forms for a naturopathic reset that I enrolled in, when I landed on a pivotal question. Before I get to that question, let me speak a moment to the question of “why” I decided to reach out to a naturopathic doctor to do this program: I’m old. Old is relative, of course, so I guess it is at least true that I am old relative to what I used to be. In any event, the symptoms of getting older are not so much fun, as my predecessors can well attest. Aches and pains show up in new places, strength and endurance aren’t what they once were — and weight gain is far more persistent.

The question of “why start?” is easy, but the intake forms had another important question to be answered: “why complete?”, and the way the question was phrased caused me to stop and ponder a while:

“I wholeheartedly believe_____________________________ and I am fully committed to my mission. ______________________ deserves the best version of me, and that is who I am dedicated to being.”

There are many prospective scenarios and/or contexts that one could draw from to complete these statements, and it is important to reflect a while to determine the root beliefs and motivations – roots deep enough to ensure commitment when the challenges come.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Psychologist, Viktor Frankl, notes how prisoners of Auschwitz responded to their challenges. As demoralizing as life in a concentration camp was, some prisoners were able to identify meaningful root beliefs and motivations that were deep enough to continue living. Conversely, some prisoners demonstrated an apathetic view toward life, which translated into a passive attitude toward their situation. Frankl notes that these prisoners seemed to have decided that their fate was beyond their control, that there was nothing they could do to improve their circumstances; that their situation was hopeless.

An apathetic person lacks a sense of purpose, worth, or meaning in their life, which shows up in symptoms such as the the lack of motivation to do, complete, or accomplish things. Therefore, overcoming apathy is a bit of an artful equation. Purpose and worth are embedded in our worldview origins, and our roles and practices, while meaningfulness is held in relation to what we value. What motivates one to continue through challenge may support little to no inspiration within someone else.

I believe the issue of apathy in people today (along with the rise in depression, anxiety and suicide rates) is partly due to how our society promotes its version of the good life. We are bombarded with messages that market products with promises attached. The promises state that our lives will change and we will be happy. We believe the promise, buy the products, and elevate our expectations, yet reality remains unchanged. It is only logical that people in a society saturated with false promises would begin to believe that things will not change, and to begin to feel powerless and hopeless in the face of challenges.

It makes sense to be apathetic toward most of the promises marketed throughout our society today. We have more than any generation before us. More comfort, more convenience, more leisure, more travel – and more dis-ease, anxiety and depression.

It is wise to look for the deep roots, the transcendent anchors that enable us to live through our current challenges and to empower us to be the best version of ourselves. When we discover these truths, our motivations return and we find the strength to persevere and finish strong.

What do you value enough to stay fully committed to your mission and the process of becoming the best version of you?

I was tempted to answer in relation to my own health, but I needed a reason to stay healthy.

I was tempted to answer in relation to the roles I serve, such as leader, husband, and father, but as honourable as these roles are, I needed a deeper reason.

I found my answer in the context of my worldview as a creature. To be a creature is to have a Creator. To have a Creator is to be purposed. This worldview of origins invites to believe there is hope, and it is especially powerful as I experience love and grace. As I am discovering this, I am finding motivation for much more than a 3-month naturopathic reset. I am finding motivation to be better in all areas of my life – not so much for me as it is a gift back to the Creator; a thank-you. Once you find the root, everything above it is taken care of as well.

Writing this reminds me of how much I will always need grace. My best is not much of a gift in relation to the power that set the foundations of the universe, but I also believe that if the Creator is this powerful, then my condition and worth is already known, and all I have left to offer is the decision of my heart.

What do you wholeheartedly believe? The answer to this question will shape the rest of the narrative, and your life.