This isn’t new territory for me as a coach; many, many of the athletes I work with hire me precisely because they are contemplating reaching for a goal that they haven’t ever attained before. However, as I work with more and more people in this situation over the years, I find myself continually coming back to the following idea, and it’s this idea that is the basis for this week’s tip:
Once we reach a certain age, we are almost always aware when we are doing something for the first time. This being said, it’s interesting to note that it is much more uncommon for us to know when we are doing something for the last time. But, those last times are there. It feels like all of the other times before, and thus passes without note, until potentially after the fact when we do realize that it ended up being the last. The last time you tuck your child into bed. The last time you ride a bike with training wheels. The last time you drive a car. The last time you talk to a cherished friend. The last time you walk with a beloved grandparent.
It’s even more interesting to note that when we are aware that we are doing something for the last time, we usually find ourselves savoring it more. Why? Because we know that it won’t happen again, and we want to “soak it up,”get as much as we can get out of that experience, and immortalize it in our memories.
Why does it take The Last of Something to show us the value of it? Why does it take the threat of that loss or the absence of something to make us appreciate it more? What holds us back from enjoying experiences in our lives with that level of passion (or even just a fraction of that level of passion) all the time?
My tip for all of you this week is to counter this. I encourage all of you to look around you and soak as much as you can out of your daily happenings. At face value, the things that we do constantly in our day-to-day lives might feel mundane or insignificant, but truly, they are not. We have only told ourselves the story that this is the case. Every day, we are surrounded by “ordinary miracles.”
We don’t need to encounter the last of something to force us to find value or to express gratitude. We don’t need to wait for something monumental or “epic” to happen in our lives to force this perspective. We can cultivate an attitude of gratitude right here and now in the middle of the week on a Tuesday.
This exercise of bringing this perspective - that we can find value in everyday things - is not a hard one. It is, however, extremely rewarding.
So as you go about your Tuesday (and the rest of your week), look around. Pay attention. (Read: Put down your phone. Please.) Listen with your ears AND your heart. Feel the wind on your face as you take a walk around your neighborhood. Look at the scenery you pass on your morning run. Take in the shifting shapes of the clouds in the sky as you pedal around on your bike. Stop and talk to your neighbor. When your child asks you to play with them, do so.
If you want to level up the practice of this exercise, start journaling five different things that you are grateful you experienced each day for the next week (and you aren’t allowed to repeat the same things on different days). At the end of the week, you will have thirty-five things written down that you enjoyed that you previously probably didn’t even take the time to notice as you went about your day-to-day activities.
None of us know how much time we have on this planet. We likely will not know when we are doing something for the last time for many of the things we do over the course of our lives. And we shouldn’t wait for those few times when we do know that we are doing something for the last time to start to savor it.
Don’t wait for The Last Time. Embrace and truly enjoy each experience life hands you TODAY.
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.