There are many ways to determine the importance of a moment. To me, one of the best ways is to consider how long the moment stays with you after it happens. There was a small moment I experienced a few weeks ago which seemed insignificant at the time, yet it constantly drifts in and out of my thoughts.

I was at the gym with my friend, taking a kickbox cardio class. Near the end of the class, the instructor said something that stuck with me: “You didn’t come this far to only come this far.” I’d seen the quote on Pinterest before, but it was different hearing it in that moment, when I was exhausted and sweaty and willing the clock to go faster so the class would be over. I had worked hard during the class, and I hearing that quote made me realize that I didn’t put in all that effort to give up in the last ten minutes, no matter how tired I was.

The more I thought about the quote, the more inspired I became by it. When, a few days ago, I was almost done checking off all of the items on my to-do list and was tempted to skip the last task, I reminded myself that I didn’t come that far to stop there. When I thought about the fact that I’m almost done high school, I reminded myself that I’ve come so far and am not done yet: I still have a few months to work hard and finish strong. I didn’t come this far to only come this far. In other words, it’s not over until it’s over.

Imagine you’ve finished 80% of a project. That 80% was made up of your best efforts, and it was hard work. You might feel inclined to put less effort towards the remaining 20% required to finish the project, since you’ve already worked so hard. But you didn’t work so hard for that 80% to skimp on the last part of your project – and it’s often that last 20% that’s the most important. It’s the last paragraph of your essay, neatly tying everything together. It’s Friday, ensuring you end your week on a happy (and productive) note. It’s the last sequence before the cool-down in an intense class at the gym. It’s the culmination of all of your hard work, and you shouldn’t throw it away.

In our fast-paced, results-driven society, I sometimes feel like there’s so much emphasis on reaching the finish line that the journey of the race gets muddled. When we near the end we speed up, despite the steady pace we maintained throughout the race. Sometimes when we see the finish line, the quality of our work becomes less important than the idea of finishing it. We see that there are five minutes left in the exam and suddenly we’re scribbling down anything that comes to mind. We notice that we’re almost done everything on our to-do list and we begin to get distracted. We’re almost done, so we figure that can stop working hard. When we have this mentality, we put less effort towards the last 20%;  meaning we jeopardize the hard work we put into the 80%.

In fact, there are even times when we get close to the finish line and give up. It’s easier, we may think, to stop what we’re doing than to work hard and finish it. Let’s say that the aforementioned project which you’ve finished 80% is a novel. You’re tired, or you’ve lost your motivation, and because of this, even though you’re close to finishing it, you give up. You didn’t write 80% of the novel to give up because you don’t want to work hard to finish it. You wrote 80% of the novel to keep going, to push through the frustration and to work hard so you can accomplish what you’ve already made so much progress towards.

When you work really hard for something, you should finish it the same way you started it: by working hard, not rushing towards the finish line, and not considering giving up unless it’s absolutely necessary. After all, you didn’t come this far to only come this far.