The Little Things

It’s funny how it’s usually the little things in life that are most responsible for our emotions. My wife can make my day by surprising me with my favorite candy bar. I can make her day brighter by walking up to her while she’s at her computer and kissing her on the cheek for no particular reason. And little things can have the opposite effect, too, can’t they? That person who stole the spot you’d been waiting for at the grocery store can leave you seething. Burning dinner can leave a bad taste in your mouth figuratively as well as literally.

Part of the reason, I think, is because we aren’t very good at thinking long-term. We are usually ok with discomfort now if we believe there is a benefit in the future. For instance, we go to the gym, knowing full well that we’ll be sore for the next couple of days. We’re fine with that, though, because we know we’re getting in shape. When we lose sight of the long-term goals, we take the short-term setbacks far less graciously.

The truth is that losing a parking space doesn’t matter. Burning dinner, even if it’s for guests, probably doesn’t matter. Waking up with a sore back one morning doesn’t matter. Your kids pestering you with questions when you didn’t sleep well doesn’t matter. Our focus should be on the long-term, not to the point that we ignore the present entirely, but to the point that we make a conscious effort to conform the present to help our long-term goals.

Everyone who dreams of becoming a world-class athlete knows they’re not just going to wake up one day in perfect shape with all the right moves and great form. These things take relentless dedication and many, many hours of hard work. Those fortunate enough to make it to the top level have done so more by determination than by fortune. Every day, they took steps that brought them closer to their goal. They watched what they ate, practiced, and worked out. And for years of doing this, they were rewarded with the realization of their dreams.

Likewise, if you have long-term dreams that you don’t seem to be getting closer to, compare your actions today with actions that would make your dream a reality. Are you working toward your goals? If not, find out what actions would help you and work those into your schedule. The only one who can make your dreams a reality is you.

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