I once trained at a martial arts studio in London, Ontario. I was 19 and just started my university career. When I was there, I met a man named Mike. Everyone there called him “Uncle Mike” He was a skinny 65 year old man with a beard and a long grey pony tail that swung in between his shoulder blades when he trained. He was my first teacher there.
On his 60th birthday, Uncle Mike was struck by how quickly the days of his life had passed. He was depressed, sick and out of shape. He woke up that day looked into the mirror and saw an old man. As the days rolled by, he felt the sand of time slipping through his fingers. There were so many things that he wanted to do and see and become. It was this thought
that sparked an incredible revelation that changed his life forever. He was going to be 65 years old one day, there was nothing he could do about that; but he could start working today to make sure that his 65 year old self had everything that he wanted. So he decided to make a promise to himself that by his 65th birthday he would be a black belt.
His whole life changed at that moment. He was at the gym sweating and bleeding almost every day of the week. His diet became as precise as a Swiss clock. All of his life’s efforts shifted so that when he woke up on his 65th birthday he could wake up with his black belt. Uncle Mike was not a black belt by his 65th birthday, but at that point it didn’t matter. He had stopped worrying about things he had no control of and started putting energy into things that he could. He eventually did become a black belt and I trained with him for years, never forgetting his story.
There are endless opportunities for you to change your future self. Small changes today have compounding effects for your future. Whenever my willpower is tested I always ask myself, “What do I want right now and what do I want 5 years from now?” As I am writing this, it is -19 degrees outside. What do I want right now? I want to stay inside, put on my pjs and watch Netflix. What do I want in 5 years? I want to train with my friends, go hiking, camping, and continue to kick butt in Martial Arts.
The answer to what to do becomes blatantly clear after that. Do you have an extra 15-20 pounds to lose? Is there a course that could take your career to the next level? Is there someone special in your life that you haven’t spoken to in awhile? What do you want 5 years from now?
- Peter "The Jedi" Lane