It’s the very first thing written in the journal every day. No matter how my mood is, no matter what the mood is that I am experiencing, no matter what pressing topic I want to journal about, no matter what, it is the very first thing that is done before I do anything else short of getting dressed and turning on the coffee maker:
“What can I do today to make tomorrow better?”
This isn’t just a hypothetical question. The goal is a change of mindset. It was inspired by two separate statements, one an observation and one a mantra. The first was what I believe was an ancient Greek observation about how good is done by those who plant trees of which they will never enjoy the shade. This is an observation about the efforts that people take that give themselves little to no benefit in the now but can help others in the future.
The second inspiration for what goes in my journal every day is the mantra held by the New Zealand All Blacks— arguably one of the most successful professional sports teams in the history of the world. Last I heard, their lifetime winning % was north of 80%. In rugby, they are the gold standard of teams to beat. Second is South Africa. Anyway, I digress. Hung in the locker room of that team and drilled into every team member that joins the team is the mantra to leave the team better than when they started.
Sacrifice in the now is the message behind both, and thus behind the statement I write at the front of each journal entry. Sacrifice today in the hopes to make tomorrow better. Put the effort in so that the future may look brighter. It’s a personal effort, irrespective of whether nature tries to kill us with a pandemic, greed and fear combine to tumble the economic markets, death visits our friends or families, or whatever may befall us.
Am I always successful? Not even close. The goal isn’t to measure an outcome, rather an effort. Outcomes can often be foggy, as a tree can die long before shade is seen. But though each day I fall short, the mindset remains to try. And sometimes that is all we can expect.
Do something today that will help to make tomorrow a little better than it is today. We’ll all be better for it if each of us tries this every day.