For those of you who were raised in a Christian culture, including the anticipation of Santa Claus coming to town – you are acutely aware of the power of anticipation. I imagine this is the same for almost everything that is a significant childhood memory. You probably remember the anticipation more then you remember the event. I figured this out a while back ago. I would always try to surprise my kids with something fun, but then I realized that it was much better to let them know months in advance. This way you can build and build on the anticipation. Anticipation is powerful.
But it is also destructive. The anticipation of the exercise that you need to do is always worse then the actual exercise. Anticipation of doing something is always what convinces you to back out, rarely the experience. We spend way to much energy anticipating pain, anticipating discomfort. When it actually happens, we have ourselves so worked up what we have a hard time accepting that reality that it is just not that bad!
I have discovered that difficult effort is overcome by focusing on the now. What is right in front of you. Focus on that next step. Try to clear your thoughts of anticipation of step 4 or 5 or 100. Just do the now. The now is often times the secret to overcoming laziness, an obstinate will or an overactive primal instinct to be bad. The now can help you just do what is needed at the given moment, do it to your best ability and then worry about the next step when the time comes.
Of course anticipation is often good, and can be used to motivate and inspire. Not going to take that away, we have that emotion for a reason and it is probably good. However, we also have an uncanny ability to focus on the moment. Our mind and body was built for that. We are agile, nimble, quick, and super dexterous. We were built for dealing with the moment and performing at a high level. We are also smart and capable of anticipating the future. The trick is learning when to use these incredible human powers to your advantage.
When it comes time to do your commitments, your habits then you need to focus on the now. When it comes times to create goals, plans and determine if the path you are on is correct, then you need to be able to harness anticipation. Abuse one of these too much and you have a problem. In my case, my focus on now could lead to eating cookies (or some other bad thing in life) and my sense of anticipation could cause me to worry myself out of doing difficult but important tasks.
So for now, I am going to go to that hard thing and focus on the now and stop trying to anticipate the pain.
48 Days Left to 1st Marathon