A few years back gas crossed the $4/gallon threshold. It was a scary moment for me as my 40 mile daily commute started eating away at my modest discretionary income. This despite the fact that I was already driving a compact car.
I began to explore options for reducing my transportation costs. I even thought about removing passenger seats from my car to reduce weight and increase gas mileage. The situation, at least for me, was that serious. I also looked into public transportation. In my locale that means taking the bus.
I compared the cost of bus fare and gasoline consumption and determined that at about $3.75 a gallon taking the bus became the more economical alternative.
The problem was 2 miles; the half mile between my home and bus stop and the mile and a half on the other end between my workplace and bus stop.
In transportation this is called FMLM or the first mile and last mile problem. This is a significant factor in commuters choosing to drive their car rather than use public transportation. The results of which are the daily traffic jams and tax burden of deteriorating roadways.
Personally, living in New England’s ever changing weather, and dealing with severe osteoarthritis due to college football and years of recreational sports, presented their own problems. I found a solution in biking to the bus, putting my bike on the bike rack on the bus and then biking the rest of the way to work. The luxury of having a locker room and shower at work made this feasible.
Recently revisiting the FMLM dilemma just prior to the beginning of my coaching season made me think about success and failure. Pre-season is the FM. The playoffs are the LM.
During pre-season players new to the college program I coach in need to learn new plays (tactics), techniques, and culture. They have to find a way to assimilate and contribute in a program that is fully foreign to them. The result is that some of them quit. They are ill equipped with the strong character and mental toughness skills necessary to successfully navigate this process. This situation is common as people start new jobs, new relationships, and new projects. Simply understanding that the FM is difficult but eventually yields to a smoother flow of the process may be helpful in preventing people from quitting at the first challenges of their journey. The volume of new learning soon becomes manageable and the quiet power of routine solves a lot of the anxiety and the situation becomes sustainable.
Likewise the LM of the post-season presents serious challenges. The intensity required to prepare and compete following the long journey of the regular season can be overwhelming. While the vast majority of teams wrap up their seasons and return to a more normal life, playoff participants must stay on the grind. If they are not mentally prepared for this extension of their season, they may find themselves overcome by physical and mental fatigue. They begin to fail to maintain the standards of their endeavors and they no longer improve.
As you set a goal it would be wise to pause and plan how you will deal with the FM and LM or your endeavors. They can make the difference between your competing and completing, or your slowly acquiescing and quitting. A thoughtful and trained response will increase the standards of your default response in a pivotal moment.