So I’m in the pool at Innsbrook Country Club, and I challenge my son Max, 6, to a hop-like-a-frog race. Immediately, he bobbed to the end of the pool, beating me by at least four yards.
“No fair!” I yelled. “I want a rematch!”
Not until I drank a glass of Pinot did I realize the match *was* fair, after all. I told him we would race, and he began. I wanted to go backward to the opposite edge of the pool and wait for a ceremonial “ready-set-go!” so I could hop my fastest.
By differently interpreting the rules of our race, Max was pretty smart; when he didn’t procrastinate like I did, he didn’t need to race as fast or hop as far.
My son—who incidentally likes to pretend he’s a cat—knows something many sixtysomethings don’t: Don’t wait until you think all conditions are right. Start *now* toward your goals.
I’ve been working on this myself. Instead of telling myself, “Because I cheated on my diet with that Ho-Ho today, I’ll start eating better tomorrow,” I’ve been saying, “I caught myself snacking on that Ho-Ho instead of eating it mindlessly. What an improvement!”
That is, I didn’t make a mistake; I made a start.
I wish I would’ve thought that way when I was 23, in the midst of a recession, and struggling to find a media job in Minneapolis-St. Paul—where everybody in the Northern Hemisphere seemingly also wanted a job.
One day, after getting my sixty-seventh rejection, I lay on the sofa, stared at the ceiling, and cried. On my breaks at my $4.25-an-hour temp jobs, I would call back to the companies who said, “Call back in a few weeks, and maybe–”
I did. One day, a managing editor named Harvey Rockwood (really, that’s his name) blurted, “I’m glad you called. I found out an hour ago that I need a copy editor—fast!”
Now, as I train myself to live more healthfully, I’ve been retraining myself to envision success as a process, not a state. We watch “Cribs” on MTV and think celebrities were born with some celestial tuba’s “oompah” that rendered them superstars.
By the way, not even the fabulous live so fabulously. Frequently they joke on camera about the designer they hired to clean their refrigerator and arrange products on its shelves so you think they really do swill the energy drinks they endorse. We don’t see or consider the years of practice and rejection stars endured to *become.*
Even negatives bring us closer to a positive. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Reverse that statement, and you’ll realize that if you keep trying, eventually, you’ll score a goal.
As a postscript, if you think it’s weird that a woman my age is conducting hop-like-a-frog races, according to livestrong.com, I lost 300 calories playing in the water that day. So there!