For millions of us, fall means another NFL season and of course, fantasy football. A fantasy team is a fun way to compete against friends and provide endless entertainment. It's the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you don't happen to participate in a league, you most certainly know someone who lives and dies with the number of points their team racks up, not to mention whether they win or lose each week. You know who I'm talking about -- the one who spends hours carefully deciding which running back to start and which receiver to bench.
What is interesting isn't so much the amount of time we devote to our fantasy teams; it's by contrast how little time we devote to our real-life plans. I happen to love watching sports and agree with ESPN's Mike Greenberg who said, "There's nothing in the world better than investing everything into something that means absolutely nothing." Hobbies and pastimes are important. In fact, I think they are crucial for our sanity. While it's okay to spend hours planning a fantasy football lineup, it's not okay to spend little to no time planning your life.
Admittedly, sometimes coordinating a fantasy football lineup can be more entertaining than tackling more serious matters. Here are four ways to plan your life like a fantasy football lineup:
1. Draft well.
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Each season of fantasy football starts with the player draft. During the draft, every team selects the players on their roster round by round. Who you draft and when you select them can make or break the entire season. Even the most basic strategy includes the philosophy of maximizing your early round selections. This is where you're most likely to find the "building blocks" of a winning team. Before you put a single item on a to-do list, make sure that you identify your own personal building blocks. This should consist of what you truly want in life, perhaps revolving around the 5 "Fs:" Faith, Family, Friends, Finances and Fitness. Assemble a list of all of the priorities in your life. This will serve as your personal roster and is your responsibility to manage.
2. Set your starting lineup.
After you've selected your fantasy team, the next most important action is choosing who will start and who will ride the bench each week. Setting a weekly lineup in fantasy is a good analogy for the way you should view each of your own weeks, personally. Think of this as a time to organize your priorities. Once you've drafted a player, you need to carefully analyze whether playing him each week puts you in the best position to succeed. Similarly, if an action made your list of priorities, then you need to decide if devoting time to this activity puts you in the best position to achieve your goals.
3. Look for smart trades.
In fantasy sports, a smart manager will always look for opportunities to swap or exchange players during the season. In your personal life, when planning your future, it's okay to occasionally swap out one priority for another. A priority in the past may no longer be a prime concern in the present. Wisely "trading out" priorities that no longer serve a purpose and replacing them with ones that do is a great way to ensure you’re heading down the right path.
4. Keep your eyes on the free agent market.
If a fantasy football owner is unsatisfied with the team they originally drafted or is simply looking to improve, they will keep a close eye on the free agent market. This is a list of players who were not selected by any team. Therefore, they can be selected for no cost by anyone on a first-dibs basis. In your journey to reach your own life goals, it's also important to be open to and to look for new opportunities, while still focusing on your end target. By doing so, sometimes the unexpected game changer will present itself.
This fall, while you plan on thoroughly enjoying and dominating your fantasy football league, I also challenge you to plan on committing at least as much time to planning your own week. Perhaps you set a repeating reminder to optimize your line-up before the first kick-off each week? What if you establish the same prompt to work on your personal growth? Remember, that unlike your fantasy team, in real life, you directly control the outcome of the game.