be on the lookout for mailboxes

mailbox 1How to help formulate a game-plan for your kids lives that is realistic and attainable.

I went for a run/bike/swim today. (in that order) My goals were realistic and attainable as I frequently cover the same ground. I was going to run 4 miles, bike 12, and swim for 1/4 mile. As I got started, I traveled a familiar path and ran at a speed that seemed comfortable to me. About 2 minutes into the run I got a bit lazy. My brain started focus on all of the things that were in my way to get to the finish-line.

It was hot. I was sore from yesterdays activities. I was thirsty. My shoulder hurt. One of my shoes was tied tighter than the other. And, if I am not mistaken, the third moon over Uranus was out of line, throwing off the balance in the universe as well as my form. Things just were not going the way I had planned and I had so much more ahead of me to try to accomplish. So many miles to cover. So much effort to put forth.

mailbox 2I had 7,432 excuses to stop running, walk the rest of the way in and call it a day.

I just wasn’t in the mood.

In my desperation I decided to focus on different goals. Instead of thinking of the end of the workout, I focused on smaller things. Instead of stopping and showing myself how easy it is to quit, I looked ahead and saw a mailbox. I said to myself:

“Just run to that mailbox. If you are too tired when you get there, you have permission to stop”

I made it! I was so proud and excited I just kept running. I looked ahead again and I saw another mailbox. I said to myself:

“Just run to that mailbox. If you are too tired when you get there, you have permission to stop”mailbox 3

I did it again! I made it, but had no desire to stop, even though I had given myself an easy out to stop. I kept feeling better each time I accomplished what I had set my mind to do. So I kept it going. Always looking ahead for the next sign, car, light, bench, or mailbox. This is great! My success was actually giving me momentum. I was my own catalyst. I finished my run and transitioned to the bike… then to the pool, all with the same mindset.

Tada! I finished, and it was not as difficult as I made it out to be after all!

As I am taking off my “man spandex” (or as my niece would call them “gross shorts”), I reflected on my children and the goals I set for them in my mind. I’m sure all parents would agree that we can consume ourselves with the end goal when it comes to raising our kids. We know we want them to be betteroff than us. In some cases we have already planned out their careers and pushed them toward “our” plan for “their” lives. Sometimes we se a hint of their natural ability to do anything and rest our dreams on them being world famous for “that”. Other times we attempt to drill a talent into their heads hoping it will just “click”, one day and skyrocket them into success. We keep our eyes on the ultimate goal and insist on their understanding our persistence in providing forward momentum toward these goals.

mailbox 4So what happens when they fail a test, loose a game, get bored, struggle to excel, or simply loose sight of the plan? What do you do when it seems like they just don’t understand what life is all about? Why can’t we just get them to focus? Don’t they get it?”

My advice would be, for both child and parent, to spend more time enjoying the mailboxes in life.

Live a realistic life with your kids. Look ahead at realistic goals and achieve them together. Celebrate the countless victories that are happening everyday, right in front of your eyes. Teach your children confidence, perseverance, self-assurance, and satisfaction. Teach them how to keep trying, even if they feel like quitting. Teach them desire and aspiration, even when they are not in the mood. Teach them that life is more gratifying if we focus on our accomplishments and learn from our shortcomings.

And if you don’t get it yet…look for a mailbox in a different direction.

As parents, there is allot for us to learn here as well. Our job seems endless and can get very tiring. There are so many reasons we can come up to not continue our run; but there is no greater responsibility nor is there a greater honor than raising a child. The finish line may be the development of a healthy, wealthy and wise person, but what will it takemailbox 5 to get there. The race may be 18+ years long (mostly uphill). It may get hot, you may get hurt, or just feel too tired to go on. It may seem easier to slow down, stop for a while, or even quit.

When that happens, look up, and find a mailbox.

Give yourself a quick taste of victory. Let it fuel you. Let it motivate you. Let it fill your soul with hope. Then find another, and another, and another. So that when you are removing the wet, smelly, sweaty “man spandex” of life, you can be reminded of the accomplishment in your wake. The kind of accomplishment that swoons a wife, makes children cheer, and makes God smile.

Try to remember that your child’s mailboxes may look very different from yours. Mailboxes take on many different shapes and sizes. It may be very specific to their goal. It may be something unexpected for your eye, but inspiring for them. Some mailboxes may be more motivating to run away from, as opposed to running toward (but to each his own). Sometimes they may not be exactly to your taste…but they still get the job done.

As will your child, if you teach them the right way to race.


3 Responses to be on the lookout for mailboxes

  1. Mom says:

    I hope I accomplished what your saying in light of you and Paul! You also taught me at this difficult time in my life I have to search for a new mailbox and keep going. This story is not only for our children but for us as well. I love you always.

  2. Charles Arcario says:

    You will always be the best Mom in the world. You did a great job, and still do. I Love You.

  3. Takeshi says:

    Charlie, another great read chock full of sound, practical wisdom. Again, thank you for sharing.

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