Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today / Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
–“Centerfield”, John Fogerty
Football players take part in a plethora of conditioning drills to prepare for the rigors of the game. You can see them stepping through tires, pushing blocking sleds and running about with exaggerated leg movements. There is one drill, called Up-Downs, which you have likely seen. The players run in place for about ten seconds, then drop to the ground, jump up without delay (or broken body parts) and repeat the whole process.
These are valuable activities if you are planning to play in a football game. But how would you feel if you saw a guy in a suit on the street corner doing Up-Downs? Yes, I know. We have a few of those characters in our town, too. But you get my point, I hope. Football drills only have meaning if they are preparing you for something specific: playing in a football game. No one has a life plan built on doing Up-Downs.
As we prepare for the challenges of our lives, we do activities like football drills. We manage our money, maintain our cars and even run around a bit. But these actions are not life itself. They are activities we perform to allow us to do something else. You can get misled, for example, if you start thinking that building and managing your investment portfolio is your purpose in life.
My personal obsession is self-discipline, but I am not on this earth to be an ascetic. Being able to control my impulses has value only if it allows me to focus my energies on something more worthwhile. Similarly, I put money in investments and exercise due diligence in their maintenance. However, I do this solely so I will be free to focus on things in my life beyond mere sustenance.
Don’t confuse supporting activities with ultimate goals. Our goal is to win the game, not spend all day jumping about on the sideline. Give thought to what matters in your life and let that be the focus of all you do. Get in the game.