DNF that sucker and move on

life is short

Life is too short to finish something you wish you’d never started at the expense of starting something you wish you had. It’s too short to miss out on something worth fighting for because you’re too exhausted from fighting for something that isn’t. And it’s way too short not to know the difference.

I’ve been reading and DNFing (don’t worry, I’m not cursing – at least not here on the blog) a lot of books lately. DNF means “Did Not Finish.”

It’s a term that’s used in sports. And apparently a DNF is the kiss of death.  Athletes try hard to avoid getting a DNF. Most people, athletes or otherwise, don’t like DNFing.

We want to finish whatever we started because it’s been ingrained in us since childhood that winners never quit. We never, ever, ever give up.

But what if we did. What if we gave up on certain things to make room for the right things.

I now have over 500 titles on my Kindle. 500. How that happened is a story in itself, but I’ll never be able to get through all 500. Years ago when I spent more time reading physical in-my-hands books, I always finished them, no matter how awful they were. Because that’s what you did.  Because you always finish what you start, and I felt bad for the author if I DNF (as if she’d know.) These days, I still kind of feel bad for the author, but I stop reading if I don’t like it. Why finish a book I’m lukewarm about at the expense of finding one I’ll adore?

Outside of the book analogy, why spend time with people or activities just because you think you’re supposed to, at the expense of meeting people and engaging in activities you’d really enjoy.

Why stay in that relationship, on that career path, in that organization just because you think you’re supposed to. Think about what you’re not starting because you’re so busy finishing something you really didn’t want in the first place.

I think it was Abe Lincoln who first said, “DNF that sucker and move on.” Although I’m not sure because I never quite finished reading his biography. I DNF that sucker and moved on. What are you DNFing today?

The Ugly Middle

Middle of NowhereI borrowed the term “The Ugly Middle” from a writing blog I follow called The Write Practice. You can read the original blog post here.  That post refers specifically to writing, but as with so many writing related topics, the lessons can apply to much more.

Beginnings are exciting.

Endings can be triumphant.

The middle though…sometimes the middle is the mess.

It’s far enough from the excitement of the beginning that you sometimes forget why you started. And so far away from the end that you wonder why you started in the first place.

But the ugly middle is where you get things done.

If you’re changing old, dysfunctional patterns, the ugly middle is where your mind catches up to your heart.

If you’re moving toward a physical transformation, the ugly middle is that space where your body is strengthening itself on the inside but the changes aren’t yet visible on the outside.

If you’re a creative, the ugly middle is where your character finds its voice, it’s where your art takes on personality and it’s where you separate yourself from the hobbyists.

And if it’s your life, the ugly middle is where you live it. It’s the day-to-day stuff that feels mundane and repetitive, but it’s the stuff you do that results in your children being loving and compassionate. The ugly middle is where life-long friends are made, where faith is tested (and passes), and where you understand that your life is blessed – regardless of your current circumstance. And it’s the way you love the people you love. Day to day. Right there in the ugly middle.

In our 40s we’re, literally and figuratively, in the middle. Some days it feels really ugly. Some days it’s the most beautiful life we could have imagined.

Whatever day it is for you, don’t give up. There’s a wide open road in front of us leading us to a triumphant ending if we can just make it through the ugly middle.