THE BLOG
05/07/2014 05:22 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2014

The Completely Avoidable Way We Mess Things Up

This past week I hit a wall. Literally.

Behold...

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The good news, beside the fact that I'm uninjured and therefore able to write this blog, is that it happened because I was exhausted from our exciting move.

To Paris. France.

It happened at the tail end of moving day. We'd spent weeks getting ready and were finally in the home stretch, which included dropping my beloved Jeep off at a friend's home for safe-keeping.

What happened? I was circling around a store parking lot as we headed out and saw that I was getting close to the (very concrete) wall. I convinced myself I could make it and so didn't even bother to slow down.

Kaboom.

What really happened? I was exhausted. I was cranky. I was ravenously hungry. I knew it would be close, but I lost my rational mind. I got sloppy.

And so, instead of taking an extra few seconds to slow down to check my distance, I just kept going.

Kaboom.

I'm sorry to say this is not my first time messing things up right at the end of a project... a project I've thrown everything into throughout the process, only to cause all kinds of extra work and chaos at the end.

Each time I've just wanted to get the thing done... and so I've allowed my concentration and efforts to get all sloppy in the end. And that's when I've realized that the end is the part people remember most.

The worst part? Each incident was completely avoidable.

Perhaps you can relate.

  • Perhaps you've put together the perfect power point presentation but didn't rehearse out loud before meeting with your client because you were sick of the data...so you didn't come off as knowledgeable as you wanted.
  • Perhaps you've spent hours baking a luscious quiche, only to pull it out five minutes before it was fully cooked to get the meal going... so it didn't come out as tasty as you wanted.
  • Perhaps you've carefully sent out dozens of emails throughout the workday, only to quickly shoot off an error-filled one to your boss just before 5p.m... so you didn't come off as professional as you wanted.

So, if this has indeed happened to you, join me on the not-sloppy-anymore train, will you?

Together we will:

  • Recognize our pattern of working so hard on a project that we fry ourselves out by the end... and plan better pacing from the start
  • Remind ourselves, as we inevitably begin to impatiently push through that last bit, that this task is important... and think of how proud we will be when the outcome is what we want
  • Force ourselves as we near the home stretch to stand up and walk away for just a beat... so that we take a breath, get focused, and finish strong

Promise that we will -- literally and figuratively -- take our foot off the gas pedal when we feel ourselves getting sloppy. Which will help us avoid hurting ourselves, our reputations, and our beloved modes of transportation.

And which will give us the kind of successful closure we need to energetically start our next big thing... which just might include writing a blog in Paris. France.

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Author's Note: Please don't judge me for writing in the seedier part of France near the Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower Starbucks is significantly more expensive.

Another note: Expect lots of anecdotes regarding my future shenanigans and hard-earned lessons in France over the next few months. Frankly, I'm curious to see how this all turns out myself.

This week...

Avoid hitting the wall. Finish whatever you do with the same level of focus and excellence with which you began. Plan ahead and pace yourself to finish everything you do with pride, no matter how exhausted you are.

Be the awesome you that we all know you are. All the way to the end.