How do you finish something well? This past year I have tried desperately to focus my energy on finishing well. Some of you may know that I have resigned from my role as the Executive Director for Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. As of January 1st, 2020, I am self-employed. The game is changing for me and I couldn’t be more excited but underneath that excitement has been a sense of loyalty. My wife and I made the decision to move on from my role in the summer of 2019 and I announced to my board of directors in the fall of 2019. All of that to say, I was showing up every day to a job that I knew I would not be doing in a few short months. I challenged myself to finish well. And let me tell you, it was not easy.
In any season of life there are start and end points. For me, I was ending a season of time that spanned three and half years. Four and a half if you count my general nonprofit experience. I know for some this is a short period of time but for me it is all I know. So, to leave it was a big decision. I wanted to do my best work at the end. I wanted to leave the organization better than I found it and be confident that I was doing my part to make the transition smoother. It required me to be more intentional with my time and prioritize more urgently. Time was moving quickly, and I was keenly aware of it.
When I thought about the process of finishing well I came up with three steps:
- Gain awareness. I had to first understand the situation and set realistic expectations for myself. I knew that my time was limited, and I had to set goals for the remaining time on the job. It would have been unrealistic to try and do everything all at once. Some things would not get done and that was okay. I wanted to finish the top priorities, well.
- Do the work. Each day we have to show up and the do the work. Selfishly, I wanted to spend my time on the new venture I would be pursuing. I wanted to devote more energy there, but I couldn’t. In order to finish well where I was, I had to respect the day to day activities. I had to block out distractions and focus on the tasks at hand. I didn’t have the time to be lackadaisical.
- Express gratitude. Gratitude should be evident throughout the entire process. I made a point to wake up every day and write down things I was grateful for. I do this regularly but during the last six months I made a point to think more specifically about things in my organization and the people within. It makes a difference when we are intentional about giving thanks.
Life consists of countless opportunities to finish well. When one thing comes to an end how do you handle it? Do you cherish the time and do your best work?
I’m not the judge of whether I did good work or not in the last few months, that is up to those close to the organization, but I am proud of myself for trying. I’m happy with how I left things and how I said goodbye. I am proud of myself for not phoning it in. In my mind, I finished well.