Maximum Effort

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Deadpool has now made itself one of my top three favorite movies of all time. I saw the movie for the second time in the theatre this weekend, which is only the second time I have ever paid to see a movie in the theatre more than once. One of the main mantras that Deadpool uses throughout the movie is Maximum Effort. Maximum Effort usually comes into play when Deadpool faces a particularly challenging situation and not only is it a rough situation, but is usually made even more complicated by some sort of unforeseen setback.

Applying this concept to the everyday, I came to the realization that the only times I have been able to apply Maximum Effort to anything in my own life has been recently, as I have been slowing down.

I spent more than a decade working multiple jobs 60-70 hours a week, going to school full-time, and trying to take care of myself mainly alone. When our plates are that full, we are unable to put Maximum Effort into anything. When we are too busy, too cluttered, overscheduled, we have all we can do just to survive. Clutter, stress, and debt are compounded when we live life at the rate at which it is easier to just buy a new thing than it is to find the thing we already have in the house. You know what I mean – when I was working 70 hours a week, if I could not find, say, the can opener, it was just easier to buy a new one than to find the one that I had and this is how stuff accumulates. This increases our stress levels and the debt we incur necessitating more working hours, and the cycle continues.

Granted, the biggest reason why I was working so many hours back in the day was that I was earning low wages. It is hard to make ends meet when you are making $9 (or less) an hour, which is what I was at before my current employment. Being so overwhelmed literally made it impossible for me to put maximum effort into any aspect of my life other than survival. Nothing received my full attention, not my job, not my schoolwork, not my friends, nothing.

As I have been rewinding real slow and minimizing my life to make time and space for what is truly important to me, I realize that I am now able to put Maximum Effort into things in my life. My job gets Maximum Effort. My home gets Maximum Effort. The activities in which I have decided to engage since retiring from college have received Maximum Effort. When I do have the opportunity to spend time with people, they receive my full attention. My relationships now receive Maximum Effort.

This has been a huge learning curve. Here are a few things I have learned about being able to apply Maximum Effort to my life since I have slowed down:

  • Focus on what’s important. We cannot give maximum effort to anything when we are being pulled in multiple directions. When we prioritize what is important in life, we can focus our energy into giving maximum effort to those people and events that truly give life meaning. What are your priorities? What is important to you? Make a list. Is your everyday life congruent with that list? If not, then you may need to do some rearranging to be sure that you can give maximum effort to that which you truly value. My priority list has three items on it. When I realized that one of those items was not receiving maximum effort, I made a conscious effort to rearrange my daily routine to focus on that item. Not only does this bring me joy, but also it helps to keep me centered.
  • Let go of perfection. This probably sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’m saying to give maximum effort but let go of perfection. If you are perfect, then you can just skip right over this section. I am not perfect, but I am also not in any way advocating for shoddy work. Perfection is a set of unrealistic expectations. Do not get so focused on having the perfect moment, the perfect dinner, the perfect relationship that you fail to enjoy what you do have. Life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. We can settle for good. We can settle for great. We do not have to have perfect. If you can achieve perfection, wonderful, but often, perfection is a recipe for failure. If we are so focused on achieving this goal called perfection, we often miss the beauty of what is right in front of us.
  • Start where you are and start small. Maximum effort is exhausting, As tiresome as it was to be pulled in multiple directions giving 10% to this and 30% to that, having the sums add up to way more than 100%, it is just as trying to give 100% to one thing. If you are currently being pulled in four different directions and are unable to reduce your obligations, then try to focus on just one area to give maximum effort. You are not a superhero and cannot be all things to all people. Start small.

Being able to give maximum effort to that which is important to me has led me to feel more fulfilled. When we slow down our lives and only focus on what is important, then we have the opportunity to be consciously present in every moment. Sometimes, this moment is the only one we have. Tomorrow is not promised. Today is a gift; that is why it is called the present.

Maximum effort may not have been caught by most moviegoers viewing Deadpool, or if it was, probably not given a second thought. Besides being a great action packed superhero love story that had me in stitches the entire film, Deadpool gives us something to think about, if we can stop laughing long enough to see. This movie was definitely even better the second time around.

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