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Watching the World Cup never ceases to inspire me. Seeing athletes laying everything on the line, giving everything to the game is goosebumps worthy. Of course, mixing this immense show of passion with a couple pints of beer only magnifies the wonderful soccer feelings. This current revelation, however, was not Guinness-induced. It came after watching Spain and Iran battle out 90+ minutes of emotional roller coaster soccer.

I always like to watch how the players move off of the ball. You see how each player allocates his extra effort. Who does he move to defend or to combine with? Where he works the hardest gives a clue as to which players he sees as most valuable and to where he sees his own value. For instance, Spain’s Iniesta always moves to support players on the ball for a short pass to connect two teammates; he rarely looks to position himself for the shot on goal. Pique will rush to support developing play from the back and instinctively looks to get the ball off of his feet; though he offers his height as a target for corners and free kicks, he gives most of his effort to his role as defender. In today’s game, Australia’s Arvani seemed to move everywhere, undiscerning and unlimited in where he would spend his energy. He took chances like no one had ever told him it wasn’t his place to do so (and he’s 19, so, maybe he has that luxury).

The games go so quickly, no player stops to weigh the pros and cons of moving one way or another. No one questions the meaning of their instinctive reactions. It is reflection and review, the slow motion replay that reveals those hidden messages. 

I can’t help but draw parallels to my own life. Of course, it takes a bit more work to analyze my actions in all my hours and days, but the idea is the same. Where I put my time and energy reflects what and who I value, and it reveals where I see my own value. I don’t think about this consciously most of the time, but it is worth reflection. As Oprah says at the beginning of her Super Soul Sunday podcast, “one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time, taking time to be more fully present.” It is true- our time and that energy to give ourselves to whatever or whoever we are with is really important. In order to make my life representative of myself, I think there are three big questions to ask myself as I make the big and little decisions in my life.

  1. What do I give my time and energy to?
  2. Why do I invest myself in some things and not others?
  3. How do need to alter this to have a life full of what I care about?

Currently, I spend a lot of time in school. I call my family and friends and spend time with those nearby. I run and hike. I read and write. I goof off on the computer or indulge in Netflix. Funny how sometimes the hours or days slip by and I can’t say what I’ve done with them.

 

Zooming in and getting a little bit more uncomfortable with the second question, I look at why I spend my time in certain venues- the office, the library, the trail, the coffee shop. I know I tend to go where I feel most comfortable. I avoid places that bring up feelings of inadequacy, sadness, or guilt (typing this, I realize how cowardly that sounds). For instance, when I had good friends in the office and felt like I was doing work I was proud of while I was there, I spent most of my time there. When I ran into a hiccup analyzing data and computing statistics, I steered away from the office that reminded me of that hurdle. I’d focus on my other projects (there are plenty to keep me busy) and go to people who reminded me of those obligations rather than the ones I knew would take more effort and make me feel uncertain. When my good friends graduated and moved out of the department this summer, the office felt foreign and lonely. I went to coffee shops and libraries instead, places with obvious senses of community. I throw myself into what I know I’m good at. I feel valuable there, and I dedicate myself more to that.

 

Deep down, I know why I invest myself in some things more than others. It’s not hard to see when I slow down, look at myself, and am a bit uncomfortably honest. 

Applying this honesty to the rest of the world, I can see my part in interactions around me. Just like I can read the World Cup players’ attitudes on the pitch, I can see how those around me are feeling by where they spend their time and energy. I can guess what is comfortable and what is not. I can see where they see value in others and in themselves.

Now that I recognize how I am spending my time and energy and what it is saying about me, I need to move on to the third question: how do I alter my behavior to better reflect what I value?

First, I must get in the habit of including the people, places, and things that are most important to me in my life. I must do this in a meaningful way that lets me fill my time and spend my energy on them. I have to work through the things that make me uncomfortable, sad, and guilty that are holding me back from what I truly want and care about.

Next, i need to use this awareness as a tool in understanding and supporting others. It can help to understand how to allocate my time to show others that I care and maybe to help ease their discomfort. It can also be used recognize how I am making someone feel and guide me in my interactions with them.

I want my life to be filled with love, passion, and sacrifice. I want to live my life on a World Cup scale, giving myself to every moment possible. The goal I’m shooting at is a meaningful life, and the knowledge that I’ve done all I can to give myself to something bigger than myself.