All too often we forget that things don’t just happen overnight. As a society who seems to need instant gratification these days, it’s hard to understand the logic or need to slow it down a bit. I was thinking how much life is like a football game. Bear with me, since I am fan, I might see this comparison a little bit more easily, but I think you’ll be able to follow me.
For starters, everyone wants to reach the goal line. We consider that the reason for the game. How we get there though is just as important. Every time a team gains 10 yards or more, it’s considered a first down. It doesn’t matter how many times you achieve that down as long as you keep doing it, the ball is yours. You are working your way down the field to within range of the goalpost. Each one of those downs is a mini success. Yet, chances are, crossing the goal line is what’s on your mind. Those downs are like reaching short term goals. It shows progress and gets you closer to your long term goal.
Now, the truth of the matter is, you are up against another team made up of some pretty great players. Their entire intention is to keep you from reaching the goal. They don’t care if they hurt you to knock you out of the game, force you out of bounds, or just plain tackle you to stop you in your tracks. You have to outsmart and outmaneuver them at every turn. Maybe you can distract them. Maybe you can outrun them. Maybe you can pull a play out of your team’s playbook that they’ve never seen before. The point is, you are not going to let them stop you if at all possible. There will always be the ones that play dirty and not by the rules. Or the ones that want to be MVP and will do anything to get that recognition. You only have to play hard, play your best game, and hope that it will all pay off.
You don’t do it alone either. There’s a whole support network around you that wants to see you succeed because if you do, they do. Just don’t get it in your head that they can’t do it without you. When a team wins the Super Bowl, everybody gets a ring. For every shot at the Super Bowl though, there are tons of games played. Some you win, some you lose. Some years are really bad and some you get so close, but don’t quite make it. It only takes that one perfect or near perfect season. It takes being the best at that moment.
So, nobody has a winning team right out of the gate. Nobody manages to get through the season completely unscathed. There’s losses, injuries, sitting things out, or just not getting enough play time. You are just waiting for your big shot to shine. You keep working out though. Running the paces to stay in shape. Come to every practice. You earn your pay waiting for the big payoff. It’s not easy staying on track, but being a better player means getting the chance to prove yourself. Maybe along the way you’ve married, started a family. You’ve made sacrifices and there were times you chose your career over them. You might have missed some important events with them, too, and it’s taken its toll. You kept hearing, “Keep your eye on the goal.” There were times though that you should have put them first. Been places, seen things, enjoyed life a little more. You just kept telling yourself that it was for them too. It would all be worth it in the end.
Was it? Will it be? Sometimes we are so goal oriented that we miss out on what life has to offer. It’s good to have goals, both short term and long term. It’s good to try to stay on track, but sometimes the right path isn’t the straightest or the shortest. It’s hardly ever the easiest. Don’t give up. But life isn’t a game. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about how you go about it, day after day. It’s about the lives you touch, the differences you make, and the joys of successes along the way. It’s important to reach that goal post, but it also matters what went on during the journey there.
And what happens after the Super Bowl? Do you keep on going for another? Do you retire? Do you just sit on the sidelines reliving your glory days? If you had your priorities straight, you get to slow down the pace, enjoy life a little more, spend more time with your family, and maybe even choose another career. Life doesn’t end until you die. There’s a lot of time in between to fill in with the things and people that are important to you. Especially the ones you worked so hard for. The ones you made so many sacrifices for and made them for you.