Pattern: “Focus on the 95%”
Pattern Category: Gratitude
Pattern Difficulty: Beginner
Before We Start
Although this pattern is categorized under “gratitude”, it is foundational to fitness and nutrition as well. Fitness, nutrition, and gratitude are very much linked and often I find that an adjustment to one affects the others; focus on gratitude and I’m naturally more jazzed about my workouts; improve my nutrition, and I feel better, automatically have more optimism and happiness; and so forth.
Preamble hummed to the tune of a Talking Heads song…
Remember the iconic 80’s song “Once in a Lifetime” by the band, Talking Heads? I know it sounds weird, but I get emotional when I hear that song.
Really, I’m not kidding.
Perhaps partially because it takes me back to my adolescence and all of the teen angst that went along with it, but mostly because that song just speaks to me on a primal level. In part, it scares me because it paints a picture in my mind of how damn easy it is to just let life pass you by.
BUT, if you’re lucky (like I was), something might happen that causes an awakening; it’s almost as if, just when you least expect it (and only “once in a lifetime”) life reaches out and grabs you by the collar and yells “WAKE THE F*** UP!”.
But then, that melancholy sets in again because…
…what happens if by then it’s too late?
It was a beautiful summer evening in August as I gazed up at the sky, breathed in the salt air, and enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness as I floated in the Pacific Ocean. I’d spent the last five hours running a grueling 12-mile Spartan obstacle course race at Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian island, Oahu. My muscles were sore beyond belief, I found it difficult to float in full running gear, and the chafing in my undercarriage stung as the surrounding saltwater cleansed and purified my skin, whether I approved or not. As we were driving to our Air BnB, in a spur of the moment, we’d pulled off the highway to a local beach and decided that washing off the mud, dirt, sand and native vegetation from our shoes and clothes (and, um, crevices) in the ocean was a novel idea.
And, it was…
I’d literally spent months preparing for this moment. This powerful, pivotal moment: A moment forever shared with my son; a moment shared with my best friend and uncle, Kevin. In thinking about the time I’d prepared, there was no doubt that every painful second was worth it. The hours I’d spent in the gym lifting weights, the hours fighting gravity, climbing steps with a weighted backpack, being super mindful of the advice my doctor had given me about caring for my “70-year-old knee” that arthritis had ravaged over the past 20 years or so. The hundreds of times I’d prepared the same chicken/rice/green veggies meal simply because that’s what fueled my workouts and aided my recovery. The hours I’d spent reinforcing a positive narrative in my mind, especially on days when I’d felt too sore or too tired or too beat down to work out one more time or choke down yet another serving of grilled chicken tenders, basmati rice and brussels sprouts.
And as I floated there, taking stock of all of the preparation that went into THIS moment, I couldn’t believe what popped into my mind, literally out of the ocean blue:
David Byrne’s iconic (and as it turned out, ironic) words:
“letting the days go by, let the water hold me down, letting the days go by, water flowing underground.”
And at that moment, that pivotal, unforgettable moment, it occurred to me the magnitude of that sentiment. The water we were floating in would have been exactly right there at exactly that time, whether we were there to bathe in it or not, and there was something profound in that thought. It reassured me, and taught me an indelible lesson:
WE MAKE OUR OWN FUTURES: decisions we make today have a profound impact on the opportunities for tomorrow.
Those opportunities are what I think of as “the 95%”: Invest 5% of your time in yourself: your fitness, nutrition, and gratitude, so it makes the other 95% absolutely mind-blowing!
Pattern: “Focus on the 95%”
Thesis: Most people focus on the wrong thing when it comes to fitness and nutrition.
There, I said it (and I feel so liberated!).
Think about it: When it’s time to work out, what immediately comes to mind? For most people, it’s the discomfort associated with the workout. We imagine, in painful detail, the movements we are going to experience, and of course take immediate stock of those we particularly hate: crunches that cause your abs to spasm, painful burpees, the stress felt during heavy compound movements such as deadlifts and squats. Oh, and the sweat! And, damn, it’s likely going to make a mess of my hair! Heck, as I’m writing this, my hands are getting sweaty!
Instead, make your workouts non-negotiable and change your focus to the experiences you’ll be able to have BECAUSE of this workout. Focus on how it will feel AFTER your workout. Focus on how amazing your life will be AS A RESULT of your workout.
And the same goes for nutrition and actively practicing gratitude.
All it takes is an investment in your time of just 5% in yourself, no matter what; heck, that’s half the time any financial advisor would suggest you put away for retirement. In a 24-hour timeframe, that’s literally only 72 minutes: MUCH less time than most of us spend mindlessly watching television or binging Netflix or posting on Facebook or Instagram. This 5% represents time investing in YOU, and your future: working out, journaling, meditating, preparing nutritious food, practicing gratitude. Yes, all these things are necessary and the only person that can say what the right combination for you at this time is you, BUT IT ONLY TAKES 5% OF YOUR TIME!
Invest just 5% of your time by focusing on the how the 95% of your life will benefit from that investment.
Note that your unique combination will change over time, and as we progress in My Intrepid Journey, we will cover patterns for each of these scenarios, enabling you to customize that combination based on where you are in your intrepid journey.
Implementation Tips & Strategies
Implementation tips and strategies you can use to implement this pattern into your own life. Practice:
- Mindfulness – find time to practice focusing on how living according to your goals will open doors for new exciting opportunities and experiences. Pivotal experiences. Experiences that will take your breath away. This could be during workouts or while driving to work or while grocery shopping; you’d be surprised how often you can find time for meditation and mindfulness
- Redirection – notice (in the moment) the next time you’re focusing on the 5% (e.g. the wrong thing), and redirect your thoughts to the 95% (e.g. the right thing)
- Taking stock – think back to your most cherished memories and consider how your health enabled them and just how lucky you are to have them
- Imagining the future – consider the future, and imagine, in as much detail as possible, how following through on your goals will enable that future
- Being patient – your thoughts are intrinsically tied to your emotions and your experience and they reflect them. Your emotions are a tricky thing. It may take time, but keep practicing
Additional Resources You Might Find Useful
- Haven’t heard “Once in a Lifetime” (in a while)? Give it a listen!
- Haven’t heard of the band Talking Heads? Here’s a little background. These guys are cool.
- Read all about Spartan Races here.
- Check out this relevant link on achieving mindfulness
- Check out this great link on the art of redirecting negative thoughts