Don’t Stop Trying

In orchestral music, the last note of a piece is the most important note, because it is the last note the audience will remember. My band director advised us, “No matter what happens during the piece: no matter how many times you mess up, strive to make the last note strong.”

When I near the end of a difficult activity - running, writing, or designing - I’m always tempted to let my energy fade a little bit at the end. I’ll think, “I’ve done the work. I’m tired, it’s almost over, I can just slow down.”

There are two problems with slowing down.

When I relax a little bit: leave some corners unpolished, or skip the last half mile, I’m cheating myself. I know I can do better, it’s just a matter of doing so. 

The second problem with slowing down is that the end of an activity can disappoint the people who work with you. It disrespects the integrity of the project.

The key to overcoming this is reframing the activity in your mind. Time is valuable, and any time you spend doing something is worth doing well. It also feels good to actually complete a fast-paced activity. Choosing to not complete a project strongly is laziness

The last 10% of a project takes 90% of your time. Make sure your last note is strong - it’s what people will remember about you.