The morning after Michael Phelps won his 19th medal and became "The most decorated Olympian of all-time" I was watching ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning on TV. Mike Greenberg commented that what you are in life, or what you are remembered for is often defined by what comes after the comma when you are introduced. For example, "Erik Weihenmayer, first blind man to climb the Mt Everest". "Michael Phelps, most decorated Olympian of all-time." "Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon."
I think that we spend so much time focusing on giving our lives reason and purpose based on our achievements, accomplishments, etc. But let's examine ourselves for a moment. What is your most notable accomplishment that people think of you as? What do you think of yourself as? Do you still let that high school football state championship define you? Or, do you moan about how good of a rock climber or cyclist you were or could have been when you were 10-11 years old. We can't get caught up in our past accomplishments or lack there of. We need to learn to look on the past with fondness, or whatever emotion you want to, learn from it and move on.
At the same time we can't simply live for the future. My girlfriend's Father, Randy, Kailee and I were sitting on the couch after dinner one night just talking about finances, investments, savings and the like since Kailee and I had a few questions. We all agreed that it's good to save money. It's good to put it away and invest in your future. At one point Kailee’s Dad was heavily into stocks and investment portfolios (he still enjoys studying them every now and again). When he was in his late 20s he mentioned to one family member that if he kept up at this same rate he’d be very happy financially by retirement. His family member passed along some good advice, “remember don't forget to live along the way". And so Kailee’s Dad advised Kailee and me of the same thing. Just don’t let the future consume us.
Too often, I think, do we get caught up in the past or the future. But then on the other hand there are those who get caught up in the present and dedicate themselves solely to one task without caring about yesterday or tomorrow but only for today. None of these is an ideal way of living. Ideally, we need to find that balance in our lives. I hear my Dad talk about balance a lot. Balancing finances, obligations, emotions, everything. We're always seeking that sense of balance in our lives. And as I constantly remind my spinners in each one of my spin classes "we're all at different levels". Your balance is different than my balance. I may be off balance while that same situation might keep you in balance.
In short, learn from the past, look forward to the future and live in the present. Don't let what's after that "comma" define who you are, or how people think of you for life. What do you want to be known for? Do you want to be known as a great athlete, a billionaire, a great parent, sibling, friend, spouse? Find that balance. It'll take some time and some mess ups but eventually we all will reach it one way or another.