People worry a lot about first impressions, which makes sense. They set the tone of the relationship. If you show up to the first day of soccer try-outs and have the practice of your life, your coach already believes you can contribute to the team. If you have a great first day of Spanish class, your Spanish teacher already believes you're a valuable addition to the class. Smiling and confidently shaking your college interviewer's hand, writing a good introductory email message, or showing up on time for a first date, you're off to a good start. You won't need to make up ground.
But good or bad, first impressions are temporary. Last impressions, on the other hand, are permanent.
If you're the treasurer of the student body and you do a masterful job managing the finances for the entire year, but leave no accurate records for your successor when she takes over, you've made a bad last impression. You won't be remembered as the treasurer who did a great job. You'll be remembered as the treasurer who didn't care enough to set the next treasurer up for success.
If you have a great basketball season but lash out at your teammates during a tough loss in the playoffs, you won't be remembered as a good player, leader, or teammate.
And if you do so well in your Calculus class that you're virtually assured an "A," so you slack off and disrupt the class for finals week, your teacher isn't going to remember you as a committed and engaged student.
It's easy to let your last impression slide when you feel you've got nothing left to prove or gain from the experience. But remember, what you do last is what people will remember first.
What's the last impression you're leaving with your teachers at the end of the school year? What's the last impression you're leaving with your coaches at the end of the season? Or your boss when you decide to leave your job? Or your college interviewer at the end of the interview? Or your school when you finish your tenure as the editor of the yearbook or columnist for the newspaper or the president of the junior class?
Finish strong and leave a good last impression, too.