Delaying satisfaction to achieve mid to long term goals is an incredibly satisfying aspect of living, but sometimes the forward thinking can result in continual disatisfaction with the present. Having the ability to accept a longer time delay to resolution is an indicator of greater capacity for achieving bigger goals, but not necessarily an indicator of life satisfaction.
In endurance sport, this often takes the form of worry and fatigue in day to day life, delaying satisfaction until race day. Then race day comes and we look to reach the end of the event, counting down the minutes until we can stop. Cross the finish line, then we have a few moments of satisfaction before we analyze the short comings of our most recent performance and look to address those next time. And so it goes. Life is lived waiting for and working toward the brief flashes of time just after a goal is accomplished.
Is this any way to really live? Some wise person pointed out that joy is best discovered in the journey, rather than the destination. It’s true, too, even if difficult to fully embrace by the highly goal-oriented sort of person, which so many of us are. Enjoying the day to day moments in addition to goal attainment results in a greater percentage of time spent in gratification.
I’ve noticed that parenthood helps keep me in the moment. I hadn’t really anticipated this side benefit when starting a family, but the impact is surprising. Before baby, it was easy to focus my energies on waiting until the next week, or the next, or whatever it was that seemed better than the present. Just get through this work week, and then the fun begins. Or something like that.
Pre-baby I really, really tried to keep my attention on the present by including more “fun” workouts over 100% focus on race-specific prep, but it required constant reminders. Self, remember to appreciate and enjoy what you’re doing now, OK? Ummm, OK, I guess. How long until this is over? Besides, what really is the difference between being 35 yrs and 10 weeks old vs. 35 yrs and 13 weeks old? Practically none, so it’s not like I had the sense of missing anything.
With a small child, a few weeks is a huge difference, and I don’t want to miss a thing. Besides, parenting a toddler doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time and energy for thinking about training and racing. That may cost me a little in race readiness, but it’s not like I have the time to worry about it. So with Remy’s help, I stay present these days better than I have in a long time. No longer do I find myself living days waiting for the next one. For that I am grateful. Thanks, little buddy.