One of the gifts that I've been given in life is the ability to see things in the long term, as opposed to seeing simply short-term aspects of things that I do. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was running. It was a pretty difficult workout--I would run five minutes at nearly my fastest pace, then five minutes slow, then five minutes fast again, then five slow. . . and this went on for fifty minutes, or over seven and a half miles. The feeling in my legs obviously was not a pleasant one, yet each time I was due to speed back up again, I was able to do so. You see, I wasn't focusing on the feeling in my legs as I was running; rather, I was focusing on the facts that first, this was just one workout of a much larger plan and if I didn't complete it, the larger plan would be compromised; and second, I knew that after I finished the workout, I would feel really good about myself and the fact that I had stuck to the workout even when it was presenting me with a difficult challenge.
The temptation to quit was
incredibly strong. I could have stopped running fast for those intervals
and simply finished the run at an easy pace at any time, yet I was able to keep
going with the plan. For this ability, I consider myself very fortunate.
Too often we react only to the
immediate circumstances and feelings, quitting something before we really give
ourselves a chance to work through difficulties, giving up on something before
we give ourselves the opportunity to make ourselves feel good about ourselves by
overcoming challenges and obstacles. If we're able to look more closely at
the long-term effects of our actions, perhaps we'll be able to persevere more
easily and accomplish some things that we never think we'll be able to
When I coach track and field, I
see some athletes give up during workouts because they're starting to feel the
strain of the workout. I see others fight their ways through the negative
feelings, and these are the athletes who end up improving greatly by the end of
When I'm at work, I see people
quit new jobs because they're getting a bit difficult and the people are afraid
they won't be able to deal with the job if it gets any harder. They simply
don't see that any trial that they go through makes them stronger, if only
they're willing to take the necessary lessons from the trial. They don't
look at the long-term benefits of working through difficulties; they see only
the short-term discomfort and inconvenience.
I hope that I'm always able to
see the long-term benefits of anything that I do, for keeping my mind on the
bigger picture always helps me through the smaller parts of that bigger picture,
no matter how hard they may be to get through. After all, any long-term
goals that we have consist of completing a series of shorter-term goals, and if
we give up on those, we give up on ourselves, don't we?