Prepare for the future by focusing on today…

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
 

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

Tomorrow’s dreams are dependent on today’s hard work.  It is far too easy to get lost in what you want to have happen instead of focusing on what is in the here and now.  I will fully admit that I have been guilty of this far too often.  As a highly goal driven person sometimes it easy to live in the future instead of focusing on what has to be done TODAY.

When training for an Ironman race it is hard to think about the magnitude of the race distance when it was almost a year away.  The key is to focus on the training needed to do for a specific week, and then the even more specific effort that you need to put forth on a given day.  Having a plan, trusting that plan, and doing the work on a daily basis is the reason that you can go into the race without any fear or nervousness about completing the 140.6 miles ahead of you.  If you have done the hard work then you are prepared for the day ahead.

Being prepared for whatever God has planned for us means that we have to put in the hard work each and every day.

Don’t wait for luck…

“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”

Ray Kroc

Hard work is an investment with returns both in the near-term as well as the long-term.  Near-term one can see the fruits of their labors and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.  But over  the long-term hard work is enabling future opportunities.  Are those opportunities or chances guaranteed to come about?  Of course not.  But one thing is certain.  Future dreams and aspirations are guaranteed NOT to happen if you don’t do the hard work today and every day.  Waiting to get lucky is a path paved in disappointment and regret.  Do the hard work, it is an investment in future opportunities.  

No do overs…

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
 
John Wooden

I don’t know about you but there just never seem to be enough hours in the day.  The world today is busier than ever and the distractions are relentless.  

I really love this quote because it makes you sit back and thing about the work you are doing.  If you are doing something to check the box, achieve the minimum standard, etc, then why are you doing it all all?  If it is something that needs to be done right, what needs to go in order for you to have the time to accomplish the task at hand?

Part of the challenge in today’s hyper busy world is that it is easier, and more acceptable unfortunately, to do more things, at the bare minimum level.  That doesn’t create long-term sustainable success.  Focusing on the few things that really matter, and then executing them to a degree of completion that ensures they won’t have to be redone is a guaranteed way to stand out from the crowd.  

Besides, if you are so busy, how can taking the time to redo anything be a palatable option!  Get it right, get it done, move on to the next important thing.

Grind it out…

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.”

Andre Agassi

There is almost nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment when you complete some momentous, all encompassing objective.  The type of project where it took 100% of your effort and commitment.  These are the ones where during the work it is so hard that you are just gutting it out, getting it done, never willing to compromise and deliver less than what you know you are capable of doing.  

There might be almost no better feeling, but it only works to motivate you in the future if you take the time to reflect, learn, celebrate success, and then reset your head for the next one.  I have to remind myself of this all the time as I am likely to jump from one all-encompassing thing to the next.  Take a few minutes today to pause, reflect, breathe.  

Then go grind it out and get it done…

The future is now…

“When you do the things in the present that you can see, you are shaping the future that you are yet to see.”
 
Idowu Koyenikan

The future is made today, one focused action at a time.

Sometimes it is really hard to know exactly what the future is going to hold. But you can see today, and what needs to be done today.

It’s easy to get lost in the dreams of tomorrow but without hard work and focus on what is in the here and now, the future, no matter how well conceived and envisioned, will never happen.

What do you need to do today to make the future possible?

99.999% isn’t 100% done…

“The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder.”

Derek Jeter

A strong finish to anything is rewarding because you know you are giving it your best effort, that the hard work and effort are paying off and you’re ending something on a very high note.  As outlined in the quote above though it can be hard to revel in a strong finish if you think you left something out on the field or didn’t give an initiative your very best effort.  But just sometimes that experience can be an incredible life lesson.  I’ll give you a personal example. (Thanks for humoring me by reading a longer post with a personal story.)

A few years ago I competed in Ironman Maryland.  It was a tough training year and I wasn’t at my optimum fitness for an Ironman race.  But my race goals were pretty simple.

  1. Enjoy the day.  The race is the reward for lots of long training hours and I wanted to simply smile and enjoy every moment of the day.
  2. Given my sub-optimum training I wanted to simply break 13 hours.  No where close to a PR but something I knew I was capable of doing.
  3. Finish the race…  Always my 3rd goal in an Ironman race.  You never know what is going to happen out on the race course.  12+ hours of endurance racing is a long day.  (as an aside, when doing a  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, & 26.2 run the real goal is always, “don’t drown, don’t crash, don’t fall down.”)

To keep from completely boring you with the details I’ll simply share that I had an amazing day and completely crushed goal #1.  I don’t think I stopped smiling at any point, even when the effort was really really hard.  It was a very personal and emotionally fulfilling event.  But that’s not why I am sharing this story…

My finish time was 13:00:45.  Yes, I missed my goal of breaking 13 hours by 46 seconds…  During the last two miles of the run I knew it was going to be close and I picked up the pace.  I was running as hard as I could during the last mile (aways easier with the crowd cheering for you) and was sprinting down the finish line chute.  46 seconds…

To put this in perspective I achieved 99.99903% of my goal.  46 seconds represented a .0009% point shortfall.  Does it matter in the grand scheme of things?  Absolutely not.  Is it even remotely important in life?  Not in any way.  Does it take away from the experience?  No way, no how.  However, I will never think of this race without a rue smile and know that I could have worked just a little harder and easily achieved the goal I had set out to accomplish.

Am I disappointed?  Not in any way.  But it was, and is, such a great lesson to me on the importance of giving your best effort no matter what, because if you fall slightly short, you’ll look back and know that you could have done better…  Finishing strong means bringing your best every single day.  99.999% isn’t 100% done.

 

 

How big is your dream?

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

Colin Powell

What kind of dream motivates you to take it from a wish to reality?  Is it big enough to make blisters worthwhile?  It is big enough to make you overcome any obstacle?  It is big enough to make you get up early in the morning and do the hard work before anyone else is even awake?  I’d argue that if you aren’t doing those things, your dream isn’t big enough…

 

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