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Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish. The Season is a Long One.

By Andy

Happy summer solstice! By now, schools are out for the summer, graduation ceremonies are taking place or have already taken place, Memorial Day, the U.S. holiday that traditionally kicks off the summer season, has passed, and some people are already enjoying their summer vacation or have made plans for the summer. This got me to thinking about certain seasons or quarters not only in sports or in financial terms, but during the entire year. I got to thinking how deceptively long a season can be. Then the affirmation dawned on me that it doesn't matter how you start a season, a game, an academic semester a workday or even a trip, it's how you finish it.

Even though summer is generally long and hot, you don't have to be oppressed by the heat. Summer offers many opportunities not only for enjoyment, but for reflection, rest, relaxation, travel, improving health or just getting one's life in order. Some just want to earn some money working a summer job while others use the summer to look for a job. In theory, there is nothing wrong with spending the summer, job hunting, but as I found out for the first time last year, spending the entire summer looking for a job is no fun and depressing. You need to leave yourself some time for enjoyment, regardless of what season it is.

For those of you who are just starting out in traveling abroad, not every aspect of your trip is going to go smoothly. In fact, don't be surprised if your trip starts out badly. It could be the missed or delayed flights, the lost baggage or a chick flaking out on you. I mention these because these happened to me, and always at the beginning of some of my trips. The key thing is that the middle and end of some of my trips were far different than their beginning. 

In other words, don't let these kinds of debacles discourage you. You can plan ahead as much as you like, but sometimes things just happen that you have not control over. This isn't limited to travel, either. For example, I recently suffered a bad injury while working out at the gym. Out of nowhere it just happened, but as angry and demoralized as I was, I didn't let it screw up my universe, and now it's healed, and I'm a far cry from where I was a couple weeks ago.

That's the thing about exercising. It's challenging and some days make you feel like you'll never reach your goal, but the incentive is there. It doesn't matter if you're trying to lose weight or bulk up for the sports season or bodybuilding competition. If you stay focused and remain consistent, the results are going to show in the coming weeks. So, don't be surprised if your clothes start fitting better or start getting more attention as a result of all those grueling hours at the gym.

Getting back to travel, especially for those novice travelers, there are some cases where you're going to have bad trips no matter what you do, say or how much you plan. These instances are rare, but they do happen. It could be the vibe or mentality of a city or country that you don't really feel in harmony with, or it could be the mediocre dating pool or the weather. If all these culminate at the same time, it feels like the whole world is out to get you, but it's rare. If you had an experience somewhere that was bad enough to make you never want to return, cross it off your list for return trips and move forward, it's all part of learning and exploration. 

Using another sports analogy, how many times have you seen a game or a series of playoff games where a team comes from behind to win? Did you ever notice that the team that won, started the game or the series very poorly? How about when a team that started its season in disastrous fashion, started a mid-season surge, finished strong and made the playoffs? Those teams made adjustments, had back-up plans, but most importantly, they didn't give up. Even though the road to success was a long and arduous one, they didn't lose sight of their goals, they believed. 

I remember years ago when I started a new job and was completely lost on my first day. I was clueless as to what to do. It was bad enough that I was already being set up to fail by the hiring manager, who assigned me to a trainer for only two weeks of training and that I got dirty looks from other employees who kept piling work on me during my probationary period. But, despite all those fecal tests, I stuck with it because I was determined to master a job that I knew I was qualified for. What happened was I got the standard 90-day probationary period with the help of my mentor, got the hang of everything at the end of that period and not only lasted longer than the boss, who was unceremoniously fired, but became one of the top performers in the department.

The season is long and it can start badly, but that doesn’t mean it has to end badly. If it starts great, work towards finishing it on a positive note. Don’t let anybody ruin your season or your vacations. Don’t associate yourself with people that are going to bring out the worst in you or make you feel like fecal matter. They are out to prevent you from accomplishing your goals, anyway. 

Either you spend time alone or you spend it with people who like intellectual conversations and emit positive vibes, but that will pick you up, not drag you down. If you travel overseas and initially have difficulty getting dates, don't get discouraged and don't ever revert to dating stateside, because lowering your standards isn't something to take pride in. Remember, the more shots you take on goal, the better your chances of scoring. So, the more dates you get and go on, the more confidence you'll get and the better your chances of success in finding those compatible with you. You might need some time to recover, but one bad date or even a relationship isn't going to break you.

So, if you are having a bad summer so far, it doesn't have to be that way until autumn. Stop and reassess your situation. Make adjustments and plan for taking steps to get a better home, job, physique, etc. Most importantly, love yourself because you first have to be friends with that person in the mirror before sharing that love with others. You eventually have to snap out of your doldrums, so better sooner than later.

Regardless of how your summer has started, you can still have a great season. Don't lose sight of that. It's up to you how you want to remember your summer. The ending is the key component to the book. After all, it's not how you start, but how you finish.

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