You wouldn't believe how many times I hiked past these letters painted on the pavement and read them wrong. They're toward the top of a steep incline near my house, on a road used by hikers, runners and mountain bikers. But because I generally take a different trail to the summit and come down this road, for the longest time I was reading TSOLMA. Every time I’d hike past it, three times a week for months, I’d tumble that word TSOLMA around in my head, wondering what acronym it could possibly be, coming up with variants, making up puns.
And then one day, this day, I stopped for some reason, maybe to tie my shoe or put the dog on leash, and turned around and saw. Ooooooooh.
ALMOST. As in Almost There. As in Don't Give Up. As in Keep Going.
Now I get it.
What’s funny (for me, anyway) is that generally when I'm hiking down this road on the weekends, there are mountain bikers on their way up, in various states of discomposure. Seriously, it's a steep incline, one for which some weekend warriors are simply not prepared, granny-gear notwithstanding. It's a shock to their systems. You can see it. And so I generally call out in a cheery voice, "Almost there! You got this!" especially to the most ragged looking. The ones who will benefit the most from making it to the top without stopping.
And all this time, the road’s been conspiring with me on this, laying out its ALMOST under their eyes as they near the summit, just when they’re most thinking, Does this fucking mountain ever end?
That’s the thing: at that point on the hill, they’ve been digging deep for a while. They’re giving it everything and they still can’t see the top. But it’s there. As is the very strong temptation to stop.
I so want them to keep turning the pedals, because when they finally get there, make it to where the road levels out, they’re going to feel so great. Well, they’re going to want to fall down and cry a bit, but also, they’re going to feel so great. Because they did it. Because they kept going even though it was hard.
And the next time: they’ll know they have it in them to keep going, to make it. They’ll know they have the will & the strength to get there.
That’s priceless. Because that feeling spreads outward from there. It gets bigger, going from that one experience on the bike to other aspects of their lives.
Even the road knows it.
I pass that word three times a week and read it ALMOST now like I’m supposed to, and take its lesson to heart. It’s been a great year, a really busy year, and I’m a little tired. And now that we’re at the beginning of October, ooooooh, how easy it would be to switch the business onto auto-pilot and lose myself in the Halloween aisle instead. To cozy down with a book and a pumpkin-flavored something and leave the big work for 2016. I've done enough, right? I've made it this far. So tempting to let off the pedals.
But Almost is not as good as Done. Done means pushing all the way to the line. Done is a fist-pump. Done is more confidence and strength and inner resource the next time around. And Done also means I’ll be rolling out a new offering in the next couple of weeks (on top of Your Business Is Your Life, my new podcast with Rachel Rodgers, also coming this Fall), so bam, take that autumn lethargy!
This year is not done. You are not done. You're so close: keep going.