What does being finished even mean?

Andy is currently “finishing’ up his Masters thesis. For him, I’m sure, if feels like a never-ending battle, but one, I’m quite sure, he will successfully see the back of.

In the meantime, this idea of “finishing it” is a bit of a plague, a cross for him to bear which is familiar to most of us. We labour away at tasks and goals that we despair of ever finishing, ever getting to their end. And we feel like failures when we don’t “finish something”. But I’m beginning to wonder what “finishing” even means.

The end of “finish”

Getting to the end of something just because you “should”, that’s clearly bollocks. Life is short, yes, so why finish things we don’t see value in? Fail fast — it’s not for you, it’s too time consuming, it’s a waste of time and energy, we aren’t going to succeed going down this road any further — but learn from the experience. Push on if you can still see value in it but if not, and if even the very the chance of seeing value is far outweighed by the complications of continuing, why not stop?

A redefinition

Why don’t we redefine “finishing” as “complete”? When something is complete, it has come to it’s end, but perhaps this end can be something of our choosing, an end that aligns with what being “done” looks like to us.

Perhaps it is all semantics. It’s just that I’ve “finished” too many books I didn’t enjoy, continued to work in places and on tasks that haven’t added much to my life (perhaps they built character?!), languished in places which, quite simply, I should have left a hell of a lot sooner than I did.

Completion brought to life

I also couldn’t help thinking of the scene in Forest Gump, when Forest just stops running. His running journey is complete. He doesn’t have a destination therefore there is no end, no finish-line, just, completion. It is over, ended. And that is enough for him, no externally defined success metric to measure up to, no social convention to abide by, just his own personal awareness of complete. Plus he’s tired. Can’t that be enough?


This is most likely simply a re-framing or sub-category of something I’ve thought about ad nauseam, success and how to live via a personal measure of success rather than external goal posts, however language is powerful and maybe, just by changing up our mental chatter, we can finish finishing and start completing.


What do you think is essential to finish?