I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old and over the years I dedicated tens of thousands of hours crafting as much skill, fitness, and tactics into my game as possible. This ultimately led me to play soccer at the University of Illinois - Chicago in their Division I Soccer Program, on a full ride scholarship, and later for the Chicago Fire in 2005 as a reserve.
I've played in thousands of matches and have experienced the full gamut of outcomes that go with that type of dedication. There probably isn't a match condition I haven't personally witnessed or contributed to. However, one unique, strange, and specific scenario I've observed numerous times is what I call the "Nearing 90" principle.
Nearing 90 is a term I use to explain the scenario where only a few minutes are left in the game before the 90th minute strikes, and my team is on the precipice of losing the match. When trapped in that moment, I've seen massive change happen before my eyes.
Out of nowhere, everyone on the team begins to play with a sense of urgency, a sense of DESPERATION. The tackles become harder, the positioning better, the effort higher, and the level of contribution intensifies.
I've often thought to myself, "Why haven't we been playing like this the entire game?" It's such a tragedy to witness this transformation happen at the end of the game...when it's often too late.
I've seen this happen at all levels - even professional. When the game starts, energy is low, conviction is weak, and everyone is going through the motions on the field. This dismal and lackluster game play doesn't have anything to do with fitness or technical aptitude. It has everything to do with ATTITUDE & PERSPECTIVE.
It always looks the same: The kick-off whistle blows, a slow level of activity musters, and the team plays too relaxed. There aren't any bursts of life or flare on the field. It all feels average. After half-time, the game drags on even more and the clock ticks down closer and closer to finality.
As we near the 90 minute mark something strange begins to happen. A mysterious sense of urgency begins to develop and emerge. The prospect of losing becomes a reality in the hearts and minds of the team. We start to actually acknowledge the idea that time is running out. It isn't infinite. The deadline is looming. Losing the match is truly going to happen... in just a few short minutes.
This transformative clarity begins to raise the stress level on the field. Fear of losing intensifies. Then, desperation magically materializes. Players are now motivated to save themselves from a painful loss. They work harder, take more risks, play with greater precision, cherish every play, and every second.
As soon as DESPERATION forms, progress starts to happen. Goal scoring opportunities develop, players become empowered. All of a sudden there is HOPE.
The match can be salvaged!
How Can Working with Desperation Make Me MORE Successful?
This is a question you should ask yourself.
How much desperation do you operate with in your daily life?
Imagine a time when a deadline loomed. Maybe it was at your corporate job and the presentation was due in an hour. Maybe it was an all night cram session before a big exam or a few days before Christmas when you realize NONE of your shopping was done. The OH SHIT moment is real now....
How Did You React?
Out of the proverbial ether emerged this moment in you - a moment of action. Your action transformed into resolve. You made massive progress in very little time. You didn't give a shit about the obstacles. You didn't procrastinate any longer. There wasn't any second to spare! You had to act now, as quickly as possible, if you were going to get out this alive!
Think About That.
Where was that urgency and action when you had enough time? Why did you let the clock work against you? Why did you do that to yourself?
How To Use Desperation Sooner Rather Than Later
If you have fitness goals, start them today. If you have a business idea, start creating real action on that idea today. Tomorrow is not a good time to do anything. EVER.
I saw a sign in a bar one time that said, "Free Beer Tomorrow". I smiled when I read that, because that bar is never going to give away a free beer to anyone, EVER. If anyone tries to come back tomorrow, the offering will have expired.
This represented a powerful idea - tomorrow does not exist!
When you decide on a goal, create live action today in an effort to achieve it. If your goal is to lose weight, start hammering that first pound Today. If your goal is to save money, put $10 into savings right now, Today.
Act with Desperation NOW!
I went through a thought experiment in my head that was incredibly helpful. I thought about what it would be like to be the 80 year old version of myself. Regardless of my wealth or health at age 80, I know one thing for sure, I'll spend a lot of my time thinking about my life.
All I might have at that point are my memories. A view into the rear view mirror and whether I like it or not - I will be forced to review the life I actually lived. Not the life I wished I lived. When you look back on your life, there are no more tomorrow's to rely on.
I bet 80 year old Adam would give anything for more time. More time to run more miles. More time to spend with my family. More time to write that novel. More time to read more. More time to take my wife on vacation or more time to tell my parents I loved them. 80 year old Adam would do anything...for more time.
So, I take that thought experiment, retrieve the sentiments I projected, and bring them back as artifacts to reality in an effort to create action today. That's when I started this site. That's when I got serious about running a marathon. That's when I got serious about cutting down on my insane level of drinking.
I want to make 80 year old Adam proud of his time and history. I want to put in the work today so that my older version won't have painful regrets. So he can rest peacefully knowing he didn't take his time for granted. When 80 year old Adam is faced with the facts of life, that his tomorrow's are truly numbered, that there aren't many days left, he can rest easy knowing that not a single day went to waste. He did the honorable thing and truly tried to live. The wins. The losses. The attempts and re-attempts. The grind. The mileage. It was all worth it because he went after it every chance he got.
There Is No Perfect Time For Anything
Don't wait until your time is running out to take action on what you want to do. Don't wait until tomorrow to be happy. Live with desperation. Act with desperation.
No one likes to think about death. No one wants to imagine what it will be like to stare backward at one's life instead of forward. I get that, but if you don't take a moment to respect how valuable your time is and that you are spending your fixed amount each day, then you'll end up living life ungratefully, without passion, without desperation.
Every. Single. Day. Counts. Take action today, while you still have the time to change.