Whoever said “life is a marathon” couldn’t be more wrong. Think about it. I don’t care what industry you’re in, there will come a time when BIG picture planning takes place. Macro-cycles, year-long marketing calendars, vision/traction organizers, you name it! Those of you who have been in the game long enough know the value these tools bring is more flair than function. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, “When is the last time everything went 100% as scripted in any plan going beyond twelve-weeks?” Looking too far ahead can prove to be less than optimal at best, and disastrous at worst.
Long-term planning for a business or team effort is incredibly overwhelming. So why bite off more than you can chew when it comes to your life? You’ll end up breaking promises you made to yourself. Forget being present, because your gaze will be always be set at ninety-days from now. In fact, you won’t even make it past the starting-line since you thought eating the proverbial elephant all-at-once was a good idea.
Just for the record, eating an elephant in one-sitting is never a good idea. You ought to know by now the best way to eat the grey behemoth is one bite-at-a-time. Not unlike the best way to achieve goals: tackle a little bit here, a little bit there. Which is why I think the best way to view life is as a series of sprints.
Life is not a marathon.
Surely the Explore page on your Instagram will disagree. Don’t listen. Whoever made the meme saying otherwise should be all the proof you need. For their time is spent doing just that…making memes. Now, before my inbox floods with hate mail, it isn’t my intention to persuade you in thinking there isn’t a career in meme-making. It is my intention to enlighten you. For whenever I find myself on the side of the majority, I pause and reflect.
I understand the appeal that comes with “life is a marathon” as it grants you a sense of freedom (although false) from today’s work. You’re relieved immediately of the obligation to move the needle as far as you can today. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you!” they’ll say. Do you? You know that to be certain? Tomorrow is promised? This kind of thinking is why there’s still no cure for the common cold. People underestimate what can be done in a short amount of time.
I know, because I’ve done it. This time last year, I had just made a small down payment on a house in Phoenix, AZ. I was still living in Michigan then. I set a goal to move across the country by December. I arrived in Phoenix on September 4th.
I wasn’t able to rid myself of my small business and make enough money to begin a new chapter by seeing life as a marathon. Instead, I “set my starting blocks” if you will, kept my eyes a few feet ahead, and did what I could in order to get from A to B as fast as possible. Here’s how you accomplish more in less time:
Life as a series of sprints:
- Brain Dump.
List all the projects you wish to accomplish.
- What is the priority?
Once you’ve got them all down on paper. Choose the most important project.
- Why is this project the priority?
Seems silly to ask yourself this question, but trust me. Asking “why” will create awareness, which generates cognition. Once you know “why” you want to accomplish this particular project, the “how” gets easier.
- Deconstruct the work.
List all specific action steps needed to complete the project.
- List the steps in order and set a deadline.
You can either list the steps in ascending or descending order of importance. Personally, I like to begin with small potatoes. I build momentum much quicker and it keeps me motivated. Lastly, set a damn deadline. Why? It prevents procrastination because people respond to deadlines. Pro-tip: make the deadline seem unrealistic. Don’t be afraid to surprise yourself.
Instead of seeing your life as a marathon, keep it short. Bite-sized candies go down easier than their king-sized cousins. When life is seen as a series of sprints, you’ll accomplish more goals, be less-stressed, and have more fun. Long runs are both grueling and monotonous. I don’t know about you, but those are two things I never want my life to be. So I’ll keep setting my starting blocks and achieving PR’s as I sprint through life. I hope to see you in the lane nearest me.