The Power of a Last Impression

We think a lot about first impressions these days. In fact, it seems in many cases, particularly for those in the public eye, that you have a miniscule window of time to make that right first impression before the judgement of your character is set in stone. Making a good impression isn’t a bad thing. How you start is an incredibly important factor of relationships, business, spirituality and really every area of life. But have you heard the saying, “How you start is how you’ll finish?” I’m not so sure that’s true. I prefer the phrase, “Start with the end in mind.”

Our emphasis on how things get started makes sense. We live in a fast-paced, all-access, 140 character tweet (I guess it’s 280 now, yay progress!) world where there aren’t a lot of self-starters and a lot of people are waiting around for something to happen. Hence our focus on starting.

But finishing well is something I’m seeing less and less of and that’s unfortunate because eventually, we all will be ending our journeys in one way or another. I’m thankful that we get to start, but how much thought do we put into the process of winding down? I think we can course-correct, but it’s going to require some intentionality. Let me start with two small encouragements. Bite-size is always easier.

  1. Start with the end in mind. Consider the fruit you want to have, and consider who’s going to eat it. That may sound funny, but think about it. Your marriage, business, ministry, etc. all will bear results for good and bad. They will either incur debt or profit, positive results or negative. And when our experience with those things is over, everything will get reconciled, and we aren’t the only ones who will be impacted by the result. Our marriages will impact our kids with either an abundance of life and love, good examples and memories, or a deficit of missed opportunities and misaligned focus. Our ministries won’t always be “ours” and we can either spend adequate time investing in the next generation, or build a one-time empire that fails as soon as we’re gone. We literally will either pass on financial blessing or burden to the next generation, and even the world around us.
  2. Build this mentality in your daily life. I’ll be the first to raise my hand to admit getting a good start in the morning has been a struggle for me. But I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it. I’m up at about the same time every day, have the time I need to get ready, eat a good breakfast and start the day with peace. But at night, I come home to four incredible, but highly rambunctious kids, and the easiest thing in the world once they’re in bed is to just throw off the clothes of the day, and slug into exhaustion. The challenge is to lean into nighttime patterns the way we talk about morning routines. End your day well. Don’t leave things half-finished. Then incorporate other pieces of your life. End your conversations well. Kiss your spouse goodnight. Give your brain a rest from the phone/tv and read something inspiring or challenging. Then follow that through into your daily tasks. Our culture has taught us that falling apart at the finish line is normal, and really, sometimes we do just barely make it to the end, and that’s ok. But what if we learn how to end better than we started? What if we learn something along the way and apply it to the other side? I think my last impression of the day is the one that could have the greatest impact on the day to come, and that means ending well could truly be the key to starting well.