We’re three weeks into the new year now, which means that 43% of people have already given up on or been unsuccessful at achieving the resolutions and/or goals that they set for themselves as the calendar shifted to January 1. While I generally don’t advocate for setting New Year’s Resolutions precisely because their success rate is so abysmal, I do think it’s helpful to discuss ideas and behaviors that can help keep us making positive progress toward the goals we have set that are important to us. After all, setting goals is a foundational aspect of endurance sports training. Thus, I offer the question that prompted this week’s conversation:
What gets your first fruits?
An Ancient Idea
The concept of first fruits originated in ancient religions, where the first agricultural part of the harvest was given up as an offering to various deities (depending on the culture and religion). While the original concept of first fruits does come from religion, it’s not a religious concept when we broaden our perspective to our daily lives. In the context of our daily lives and as it pertains to this conversation, “first fruits” means your time, energy, and attention reserves. So when we ask “What is getting your first fruits?”, we’re asking about which thing(s) that you give those reserves to first.
We only have so much time, so we have to decide what our priorities are. The things that get your first fruits are - consciously or unconsciously - what matter most to you. What is currently getting your first fruits? Are the things getting your first fruits actually what is most important to you? Are they tied to your core values and authentic self?
By contrast, “what’s left” is the opposite of first fruits. In the context of this conversation, “what’s left” refers to the last of your time, energy, and attention reserves. In other words, out of the things you actually accomplish and/or set out to accomplish in a day, these are the things that rank and/or happen last…that get attended to after you do everything else you do or that which get cast aside when your time reserves are spent (aka when your time budget is up and the day is over).
True Goals Need to get First Fruits
Remember that a goal is a thing that you have deemed to be a higher priority than other things. Thus, if you have performance goals in endurance sports and you are serious about them, training must get your first or second fruits. If it’s not, then the hard truth is that your goal isn’t really a goal, because you aren’t prioritizing it more than other things in your life. You cannot give it “what’s left” and expect the same result as if you have given it a significant amount of your time, energy, and attention.
All too often, athletes are giving sport their “what’s left”, not their first fruits. They are seeking to do everything else they normally do, and fit training in only if it “fits” in. They are not intentionally carving or setting aside the proper amount of time, space, and energy for training. In other words, for so many athletes, training is actually an afterthought (even if they don’t want to admit that that’s what is true).
In order to determine whether your goals are getting your first fruits or “what’s left” , you need only track how you are spending your time. And you need to do this honestly, without judgment or editing. What comes first in your day? Checking your phone? Social media? Family time? Prayer or religious time? Work? Training? What comes second in your day? What comes after that?
What things do you set out to do in a day that you do not actually end up doing? Are you genuinely okay with the things you don’t get done? In order to determine the truthful answer to this question, you need to compare how you actually spent your day against the list of things you wanted to do and the list of things you didn’t get done. Looking back over those lists, are the things that you did do actually more important to you than what you didn’t get done?
Going through this process can be very enlightening, as it will often show you that you don’t value something as much as you thought you did. It also will often show you that you’re spending your time on something you don’t value as much as something else you’d rather be doing. In other words, it can help you determine what you actually want to be giving your first fruits to.
The Bottom Line
Throughout a year or a season, it can be really useful to check in with yourself to track how you are spending your daily time and to see if what you’re giving your first fruits to is actually something of that level of importance to you. Increasing self-awareness about how you’re spending your time can allow you to course-correct and stay on the path to your goals, which might just land you in the 9% of people who feel that their annual goals and resolutions were successfully achieved.