I’ve been told that life is a marathon, but I don’t think it’s true. Here’s a better way to think about your race.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon?” I’ve heard that often and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is actually not true. While it is good to take a long term perspective, I think it is a very important thing to do, the truth is life is more like a series of sprints that are broken up by periods of rest than it is a marathon.
When you think about life being a marathon, or have a marathon mindset, the idea is you just keep going, you don’t quit, you just keep going and going and going. And I think that can be a recipe for burnout and ultimately for ineffectiveness. Rather than that, think in term of a series of sprints.
Rather than setting an annual goal or a five year goal or something like that, think in terms of twelve week goals. Twelve weeks is long enough that you can get some substantial things done but short enough that you can stay focused, work hard, and when it is done, step back and take a break.
We’re designed for that combination of push and rest, stretch and release. You know if you work out, you work hard and then you have to give your body some recovery time. That’s kind of the way life is organized, kind of the way life is made. Push hard and then rest, push hard and then rest. Even within a single day, think of it as series of sprints.
Break it up into smaller chunks where you work hard and focus, you press in, then you step back and take a break. You take a break and go for a walk, or even a nap, something like that. Then you come back and press hard again. Structuring your time that way, and approaching life that way, as a series of sprints rather than a marathon; studies have shown you’ll actually get more done that way than if you work straight through. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest.
The reality is life is not a marathon, even though it lasts a long time. A series of sprints, broken up by rest, you’ll get more done, faster, with higher quality. So try it and let me know how it goes.