With the game down to the last seconds, these foul shots could make a crucial difference between staying down, a tie, or getting ahead for a win. You need to make these points. Your opponents are watching. Your teammates and coaches are watching. The crowd is watching. Nana is probably watching from home. The glow of the scoreboard is shining in the corner of your eye. 

What do you focus on? 

When many people start thinking about fitness goals they want to achieve, they focus on the endpoint. Indeed, when someone comes into the gym we first talk about the changes they want to see. Looking around we might see people who have already achieved the goals that we want, and most everyone we see on social media is already there. We can become too intent on the endpoint and when getting there takes longer than we’d like (and it usually does) frustration can set in. 

Goals give the direction for efforts, not the actual steps to get there. The practical steps we consistently take every day are what actually move us toward the summit. This means our goals must also incorporate the necessary behaviors and habits we need to put into practice to ultimately reach our goals.

If we want to be strong enough to get up and down off the floor, we will need to show up and train for it. 

If we want to have the stamina to do the yard work, we will need to show up and train for it. 

If we want to have the resilience to stumble and fall but get up again, we will need to show up and train for it. 

It may well be that you don’t feel a deficit in these abilities right now. Yet aging is accompanied with the loss of energy, loss of strength and bone density, loss of independence. Ask someone you know who is 20-25 years older than you if they feel as peppy today as they did at your age. What you start to notice 5 years from now is insidiously underway right now, until it reaches the point that you start to notice difficulty in those tasks you take for granted. 

We must train today for the strength and fitness we need later. No one is immune. So maybe the real goal for general fitness and health should not be the endpoint achievement of fitness, rather the goal should be to learn how to enjoy the behaviors and habits we know will best serve us in the future. Less exciting? Perhaps. But our behaviors and actions now are more within our control than the actual outcome. 

The fitness level of the person you will be 20 years from now is actually out of your reach, all you can do is what you can apply yourself for today, each day. You will learn far more from your 500th workout than your 5th one. And be better for it. But you have to keep showing up to get there. 

Our free throws are unlikely to go in if we are watching the scoreboard when we throw and our climb up the mountain will be tougher if we are looking at the peak instead of the next handhold. The world of sports gives great examples to the fruits of hard work and everything is on display at game time. But many hours of practice go into minutes of play on the court or field. It can be said that winning is truly accomplished in the days and hours out of the spotlight. Putting in the time and the reps so that when the pressure is on and the chips are down (or maybe within reach?) we can rely on our practice, our process to see us through. 

Learn to love being on the side of the mountain for that is where you will spend most of your time. 

Pick 2 or 3 habits of the fitter people you know. If those habits seem out of reach, what is a mini-version that you could incorporate into your routines? You can always make them more challenging as you get better at them. Put a calendar on your fridge door and add a checkmark every time you do them so you can monitor your consistency of action. Or get a coach who can help you decide where to start and to whom you have to show your work.

If you want to have winning fitness and health in your corner in the future, take a page from professional athletes. Amateurs let feelings decide what they do or whether they will show up. Pros keep showing up and do the work.

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