Eyes on the prize…wherever that is

You might have heard about a smidge of wintry weather we in the Northeast experience, a few days ago. Dire predictions of 1-2 feet of snow, at least in my neck of the woods, proved excessive; we mostly got sleet and freezing rain. All said and done, it didn’t look like much-but it doesn’t take much ice to make my sloping driveway insurmountable to most folks and their vehicles. I’ve come to consider shoveling the thing a welcome change of pace from my usual exercise-routine. Shoveling, however, does not quite describe the icy task this time around…a pickaxe might have been better suited to the task. Whether it’s a foot of snow or the 1-2 inches’ thickness of ice I had to deal with this time around, clearing the driveway can be slow going. The mind, much like a kid in the backseat on a road-trip asking “Are we there yet,” is persistent with “Are we almost done?” (And variations thereof, such as “How much have we accomplished?”) It’s a familiar refrain to me, initially from my years of distance-running (in competition, and then just to remain relatively healthy). Others may be more capable, but I can’t run for an hour or more, especially trying to push my limits, without occasionally thinking about how much of my self-inflicted ordeal is done versus how much is left to go. I remember some wiser-than-I individual, back during my racing days, offering some advice about where you were supposed to train your eyes while running these multi-mile courses. It regarded the potentially-fatiguing effect of excessively dwelling on the length/duration of your task: You were supposed to look straight ahead into the distance, rather than staring at your feet or the ground just in front of them. You’d thus be thinking about progress towards landmarks a good ways ahead…not watching your increasingly-weary steps, and the paltry interval covered by each footfall. Such strategic focusing also comes into play in my telerad work (you did see where I was going with this, right? I mean, this is a radiology blog, after all). However many hours you work at a clip, however many cases you’re reading, you’re probably going to have a periodic thought about how much of your day has gone by. Or your worklist. Or some other metric relevant to your situation. Keeping too keen an eye on the clock, your RVUs, etc., you’ll be like a runner staring at his feet, counting every step of his miles-long trek. Or, like me in my frigid driveway, every chunk of ice chipped from its spot. It’ll seem to take forever. Keeping your eyes on the more distant prize will go a long way towards maintaining your stamina.