Counting the Cost and Following Through


A couple years ago I decided I wanted to become a morning person.

After years of battling my alarm clock and dragging myself out of bed I finally had enough. Weary from the prolonged war I proposed a truce.

But I didn’t want to be grumpy about losing the battle. Instead, I wanted to wake up each morning and leap out of bed like it was the thing I wanted to do most.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I had tried everything I could think of: going to bed earlier, waking up to music instead of an alarm, exercising more, even putting my coffee maker on auto so the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee would start my day off right. While I was able to get up on time, I wasn’t happy about it and my propensity for following through was dismal.

When I began this challenge, I was enthusiastic and motivated. But after weeks of struggle and little improvement I felt discouraged and wanted to give up.

The more I thought about quitting the more Paul’s words to the Corinthians about counting the cost and following through came to my mind.

Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. (2 Corinthians 8:11)

Now, this advice isn’t about getting up early and being happy about it—in fact it’s about money—but I recognized a parallel to my situation.

I’m making decisions based on my feelings

My initial idea to become a morning person was not based on emotions—I thought it would make my life better. But as I became more frustrated, my enthusiasm faded and I lost sight of my original goal.

By making excuses for why I couldn’t become a morning person I wasn’t being honest with myself. I was in effect letting myself off the hook because it got hard—I revelled in being a victim and feeling sorry for myself instead of pushing on. Paul’s words encouraged me to follow through with what I had started.

There is a cost

Sure, getting up on the right side of the bed doesn’t cost me money but it does cost something. Once I really started counting the cost, I made a quick list:

What it will cost me to quit:

  • I will miss sunrises, quiet reflection, and time to organize my thoughts for the day
  • It will be easy to become lazy
  • Instead of embracing the day I will resent it and be a pain to be around

What I could gain by continuing:

  • My days tend to go better when I get a good start
  • When my attitude is positive I am more productive
  • My energy level is higher when I’m not getting out of bed at the last minute

When I thought about why I wanted to become a morning person I realized it’s because I know my days go better when I have a good start, and when my days go better, I get more done. And I’m nicer. So to quit just because it’s a lot of work isn’t a good enough reason for me. Counting the cost helped me refocus and recommit to my original goal.

Starting is always easier than finishing, which is why follow through is a reflection of character. Besides, God doesn’t quit on us, so why should we give up when the going gets tough?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)

I’m learning if I tell myself the truth about why I started a task and count the cost of not finishing (versus what I’ll gain from following through), it will make me that much stronger to resist the temptation to give up.