This past Sunday marked the end of the NFL regular season. Monday was the beginning of the moves that teams which failed to make the playoffs were undertaking in an effort to improve. Three teams decided to make coaching changes believing that it was time for new leadership. Over the next 6 months, we will see teams alter their coaching staffs, front office, and player rosters. Every sport has similar events occur during the off season.
Another factor is what the individual players do during this "downtime". In football, many participate in off season conditioning programs. Also, those who were injured rehabilitate those injuries so as to return to full strength when camp opens. Finally, many use this time to improve their skills by working on specific activities if they feel an area is lacking. They establish a benchmark (for example: weight added) to monitor the progress. All this occurs in solitude away from the bright lights of a professional game.
Professional athletes and teams have 5 or 6 months to revamp the direction they are traveling. However, you do not have this luxury. Unless you are in a profession where you are laid off each year, there is no off season for you. At the same time, there is no taking off from family and financial responsibilities. Life simply keeps occurring at it's regular pace. It is no wonder that people have such difficulty to make a life transition.
How can we use this knowledge to change our lives for the better? Since it is impossible to "stop life", we must figure out a way to make progress with all that occurs on a regular basis. Utilizing the concept of the off season helps us to set benchmarks of change. We can implement this into our planning and scheduling to have a profound impact.
Let us use the football calendar as an example. The regular season just ended so teams that did not make the playoffs are already looking towards next year. Training camp opens in July, thus the invitees to camp are set by then. With a preseason of 4 games, the regular season opens around the 2nd week in September. It is at that time that the fruits of the off season are enjoyed.
We can follow a similar time line. A few weeks ago we wrote down three goals which we wanted to achieve in 2009. Choose one of those goals and write next to it "2nd Week In September". This is the deadline for it's accomplishment.
Next we begin to plan our "off season". Realizing that you most likely cannot dedicate 9 months exclusively to this pursuit means that we need to schedule activities which move us towards this end. Therefore, we extend our work day in our mind by a couple of extra hours. This is an important concept so follow me here. Most fail at something because they decide to do it in their spare time. The fact is nobody has any spare time. We need to plan on the activity to be effective. Adding a couple of hours to the work day achieves this end.
Do you see what just happened here? Most people spend their 8 hours at work because they have no choice; they need to be there or risk being fired. By adding two more hours, we just removed the choice from ourselves. Now, we have 2 hours to dedicate to accomplishing the goal desired. I hope you can see how much more likely you are to attain your destination by using this concept.
Let us use the goal of learning a foreign language as an example. Supposing that we work from 8-5, that means we get home at 5:30 or 6:00. If we have a family, there are obligations there which might take us up until 8:00. At that time, we can put in 2 hours to learning the new language. If we do this for the next 9 months, how proficient might we be in this endeavor by "kickoff"? I surmise that you will have a good grasp of that language.
Of course, we can break the time up working on a couple of goals. Instead of dedicating two hours to one pursuit, perhaps we do an hour apiece. We spend the first hour studying and the second reading about a culture we are interested in learning about. Or, we can put an hour on the front end in the morning and one in the evening. Many people choose to workout for an hour in the morning while attending to the "study" in the evening. This is equally as effective.
The main idea is to be rigorous and dedicated to the pursuit. Do you think that professional athletes slack of their off season conditioning program? The answer is that some do and they pay a heavy price for that the following year. Those who are committed to working in the off season usually perform better.
Our off season just started. I chose to use the football season since it just ended. However, you could follow the schedule of baseball, golf, or hockey. Live your life like you were a professional athlete preparing for the next year. Act as if you have millions of dollars riding on your performance and accomplishments. Even if you do not make this type of money, are your goals any less important than any other? Obviously not. Your life is worth an incalculable amount. Begin to live according to that belief.
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