An excerpt from The Final 8th by Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW
It’s painful to find yourself seriously stuck.
Despite doing all the right things, inexplicably you’re unable to reach a long-held goal, whether it’s in your career, your relationships, your finances, your creative life, your health, or your personal growth.
Most of us endure a bout of paralysis at some point in our lives. It happens to CEOs and moms and CEOs who are moms; to students and teachers; to doctors and dancers; and to young adults, techies, and retirees. But being stuck when you are so close to success is a distinct phenomenon. It feels even worse when you are in sight of the finish line, yet you don’t cross it.
I’ve worked with many clients—talented, energetic, motivated women and men—who had accomplished multiple steps toward their goal but were unable to complete it. These are driven, enterprising folks who are doers—and who were highly dissatisfied with their situation but unable to change it. They found themselves immobilized on the way to a cherished aspiration, from choosing a career to finding a mate, from getting out of debt to building a boat, from loving themselves to becoming a master plumber. I began to call this treacherous, demoralizing quandary the final eighth (and to refer to everything going before it as the first seven-eighths).
We all have a challenge we want to push through. The final eighth process is a breakthrough metaphor, a fresh new paradigm for the process of taking the steps necessary to complete a project, finish a goal, realize a dream, and flourish.
What follows are final eighth scenarios my clients have experienced. Some may strike a chord with you.
I’ve tried online dating, I’ve told everyone I know that I’m looking, I’ve gone to singles events, and I’ve kissed a lot of frogs, but I just can’t find mate material—it feels hopeless.
I’ve got a great idea for a small business. I’ve done the research, and I’ve lined up potential investors who are ready with the seed money. They’re just waiting for my business plan, but I can’t seem to draft it—I feel stupid.
I visited colleges and picked my top five. I can’t wait to graduate. I filled out applications, but when it comes to writing my personal essay, I freeze up—I feel I don’t have anything important to say.
I decided I wanted to make peace with my dad. We’ve always had a difficult relationship. I went to therapy, I’ve talked things over with my siblings and my husband, I’ve practiced what I want to say. I feel so ready, but I just can’t make the call—I feel powerless.
I’ve saved enough money for a down payment, my credit history is great, and having my own home is something I’ve always wanted, but for some reason I stop myself every time I’m about to make an offer—I get so angry at myself.
Do any of these stories sound familiar? You have your act together, you seem to be in high gear, you’re doing everything you can consciously think of to reach your goal, you’re getting good feedback—and yet you wind up stalling and feeling bad.
Understanding the concept of the final eighth can help you escape that bind, cross that finish line, and not only revel in the sweet smell of success, but also learn how to extend your championship season by practicing safe success.
The First Seven-Eighths
When you’re stuck in the final stages of achieving a goal, whether it is to become solvent, get a dog, or gain a promotion, you’ve probably done everything pretty much right. You took the initiative, followed a plan, and moved toward your goal. This is the first seven-eighths. It includes successes, failures, and procrastinations—in other words, all the different experiences that have led to your current level of wisdom.
The first seven-eighths can include the following:
>> grappling with challenging habits but having difficulty finding support
>> discovering your passion but not knowing how to empower it
>> gaining physical strength but not being able to maintain progress
>> boosting your emotional health but losing it under stress
>> getting experience in your profession but not being able to move up
>> studying but struggling with completing courses for credit
When the finish line is within sight, shimmering with promise, you just can’t get there. Despite the nearness to the goal, despite your hard work, despite the access to necessary resources, despite your admirable level of commitment, you find yourself unable to take the final steps to success.
And sadly, you may have been in this position more than once.
My clients were baffled about why they were stuck. They reported feeling frustrated, stressed, sad, and scared. “I just don’t get it,” they’d say. “I’m doing everything I can think of. This is what I want more than anything, and I just can’t take the next step. Why is this happening?” They’d swear to me they yearned for the desired outcome with every fiber of their being.
I’d tell them, “Believe it or not, some of those fibers just aren’t with the program.” The truth is, not every part of you wants what you think you want! Some of your inner selves are opposed to your goal. We’ll explore the technique of voice dialogue, a powerful method developed by my mentors, Hal and Sidra Stone, to discover those different aspects of yourself and speak from their point of view. This technique can reveal and free you from the hidden internal conflict that’s blocking your ability to achieve your goal.
Excerpted from the book The Final 8th. Copyright ©2020 by Bridgit Dengel Gaspard. Printed with permission from New World Library.