In the movie “City Slickers” Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is alone with Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly gives Mitch some life advice.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.
To paraphrase Curly, Mitch needed to find his IT.
Two years ago, I made a decision to retire from the corporate world and pursue a career in health and fitness. As I have stated previously, I looked at this as a re-tirement or a re-equipping rather than retirement or cession from work.
However, it was on a Saturday morning walk in May 2017 that my vague plan started to become clearer. During my usual walk to Hopkins on the LRT, the Scripture 1 Kings 19:15-16 came to my mind. It tells the story of God giving Elijah three specific tasks to perform before his life’s mission was over. I didn’t know then how this applied to me, but one year later, I knew what my three tasks were in priority order.
I found my ITT.
• INVEST in Violet, my granddaughter. My time, money and attention are devoted to her. This represents my commitment to family first.
• TRAIN my clients. Develop and apply my skills as a health and fitness professional. This represents my commitment to my vocation which is helping people.
• TEACH anyone who is interested. Share the truths and insights that I have learned during my life. This is expressed in my writing and broader calling.
Now two years later, that is exactly what I am doing. I have re-prioritized my activities and eliminated others so that I can focus my attention on fulfilling my ITT. I don’t know when my life’s mission will be over or whether there will be other adjustments along the way, but I am confident that I am doing now what God has laid out before me.
Sometimes adjustments come in the form of pruning. In the horticultural world, we know that pruning a tree is necessary to sustain growth. That is, sometimes the skillful pruner will cut back a fruitful branch which diminishes the outward appearance of health in the short term but contributes to the long-term health of the tree.
This recently happened to me. I had been in a mode of adding activities to my schedule. First, it was school, then it was an additional two day a week commitment as a personal trainer at the Ridgedale YMCA. Eventually, my internal homeostatic stress sensor began to register amber. At first, I ignored it, but then after an abbreviated night of sleep, I made the decision to drop my second Spring class in the ATSU kinesiology program.
This decision was made from my ITT perspective. My school work was taking time away from what could have been spent with my granddaughter. The information that I was learning was useful, but not critical to what I need to serve my clients better at this time. In terms of my third priority, being stressed is not a good example of teaching others about healthy living.
I am thinking about returning to the kinesiology program this Fall. So far, I earned an “A” in my initial course on Evidence-Based Practice and Research, and an additional “A” for staying on my life’s course.
Michael worked in business for 40 years including 28 years as a systems engineer and project manager with IBM, and in various capacities for United Health Care, Grumman, and the YMCA. Michael has also served as a congregational and teaching leader in Minnesota, Arizona and New York. He earned a B.A. from Bethel University, and an M.A. in Human Resource Development from the University of St. Thomas. Michael is the author of three books: My Life in 125 Words, God Speaks in 125 Words, and Men Speak in 125 Words. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC). He has also completed 15 marathons and 60 half-marathons in 10 different states. He lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his wife Cheryl. They have been married for 49 years.