Stay focused on the present

I am a ‘big picture’ guy. I’ve been preaching the importance of identifying your two ‘BIG DEALS’ in life and constructing a lifestyle that allows you to go after them.

But it is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of these BIG DEALS. Sometimes, when we dwell on the amount of work that needs to be done to get to the ‘BIG DEAL’ it causes us to stop in our tracks and not make any progress. 

Training for a race. Writing a business plan. Creating curriculum. Building a deck. Finishing a degree. Whatever your BIG DEAL is, it will, at times, be overwhelming.

So, it seems like I’m doing a 180 on my philosophy when I tell you to STOP thinking about the BIG DEAL. But, really, what I’m about to tell you is spot-on for staying dialed in on your ‘BIG DEAL.’

  Focus on the present moment.

When you think about it, our lives are made up of millions of “present moments.”

To illustrate this point, I’m going to tell you about an experience I had during an Ironman marathon.

Ironman Florida, 2004. I was about 16 miles into the marathon and my body was beginning to fail me. My pace was slowing. My legs ached. My motivation to carry on waned.

I questioned if I could (or wanted to) keep going.

The enormity of running 10 MORE MILES seemed overwhelming.

As I went down the rabbit hole of doubt and frustration of not being able to continue, I realized that at the very moment I was thinking these negative thoughts, I was actually making progress towards the finish line. For the time it took to formulate a negative thought, “I feel horrible and don’t think I can keep going.” I had taken 15 steps! I was 15 steps closer to the finish line. I hadn’t stopped. I hadn’t quit. My body WAS able to do it.

So, I thought about that, and in the time it took me to process this concept, I was taking more steps! And I was getting even closer to the finish line.

I realized very quickly that if I could simply focus on the moment, focus on THAT STEP, that each step wasn’t too bad. I could handle one step at a time. I didn’t need to quit!

It was only when I let my mind go back to…. “I have 10 more miles left” that I felt miserable.

So, I focused on the moment. Each step. Each mini-goal (run to the next intersection, run to the next aid station, try to catch that person).

Before I knew it, I was at mile 25 and was hearing Mike Riley’s voice at the finish line!

I took this experience and applied it to my life. When I feel overwhelmed during a journey, when I’m paralyzed by the enormity of a project, I ignore the big picture and focus on ONE THING that will help me get closer to the goal. By focusing exclusively on the present moment, I am able to override the negative thoughts.

Interestingly, at the end of the day, I’m able to look back on my day’s work and say, Hey, I did ‘something’ that helped me progress towards the BIG DEAL. And that is a win!

I hope you come to understand, focusing on the present moment is the most powerful tool you have to keep you dialed in on the BIG DEAL.