During the offseason, I wake up 4 days a week with the intention of preparing myself for the next season. I make coffee and a quick breakfast, lay back down in bed with my wife for a minute (because who can resist it!), then I'm out the door to the gym. Each workout is specialized. Carefully crafted to mold and shape my body to be the best ballplayer I'm capable of being. Then I throw, following a program tailored to fit my needs as a pitcher. After my baseball related activities are done for the day my mind turns to what else I'm gonna do (eat). Recently, I've been much more conscious about what I put in my body, so it takes a little more time and planning to make sure I get all the nutrients I need to recover and do it again the next day.
However, in between the time it takes to do all of the things above I'm left with a good bit of "down time". Time that seems like it could or should be used for a specific purpose, but instead is usually spent doing whatever I feel like at that moment. Reading a little, playing my guitar or ukulele, watching Law & Order SVU (don't judge me), or generally bumming around. I feel guilty about it sometimes. Like I'm cheating my future self, my next season, or my betterment as a human being. I feel self-conscious that other (older) ballplayers must be doing it so much better than I am. That the great ones, when they were my age, never wasted a moment. It can be pretty defeating if I let it resonate too loudly.
Interestingly enough, I'm discovering that my offseason and my 20s aren't that different. I'm 26 years old, officially on the backside of this decade in my life, and the same feelings I have about my baseball preparations, I have about preparing to be in my 30s. It feels like I'm working so hard, focusing and taking great care to make myself the best possible 30 yr old version of me. I cut out gluten so I don't get fat. I started doing Hot Yoga, because who can resist a 105 degree room where people sweat and fart a ton? I cut my wardrobe in half and gave away as much "stuff" as I could so that I don't become some old weird hoarder guy who can't move because he has too many hoodies and old socks piled up in his living room. Steps have been diligently taken to ensure that I will be better at 30 than I am at 26. Yet is still seems like so much more could be done, right?
I'm hoping I'm not alone here, but I look around me at other men in their 30s and think, "to be where they are, I have to be doing twice as much as I am now!" I see entrepreneurs with PhDs and a sophisticated palette that can sense the nuances of various 18 yr. scotches. "I WANT THAT!" says 26 yr old me...and I don't even like scotch. It's so easy to look at older people's accomplishments and feel crappy about the work or amount of work you're doing. It seems like a lot of us in our 20s are working hard yet still feeling aimless and under prepared. If we haven't found a career path that seems suitable then we freak out, knowing that time we're wasting is irreplaceable. And even if we have found a career and are plotting along it's path like a good soldier, we worry that others are moving faster and we are at risk of being left in the proverbial dust. It's a self induced panic rooted in irrational fears.
Sure, it is healthy to have a sense of urgency about life. To see time as the most precious of all non renewable resources. But to obsess over the time that has passed, fret over present comparisons and worry about what the future may or may not look like is useless. The only thing we are actually capable of doing is our best today. Show up and engage in whatever work you do. Be on time and finish the things you start. Get up, go to the gym, throw the baseball and eat healthy. If we can do these things, it doesn't matter what season we're preparing for, success will follow. Life has a way of working itself out even better than we could imagine. Sure, I might not ever get a PhD or have immaculate taste in liquor. I might not win 20 games this season or throw a no hitter. But when it's said and done both this offseason and my 20s will have been worth every second.