When it comes right down to it, everyone is a fighter in one respect or another.  You may be fighting to become the next champion of the world or simply fighting for a better life. You may be fighting to get that next big promotion at work or fighting to improve your health.  No matter what your particular pursuit may be, it has similarities to what a boxer encounters every time he enters the ring.  That’s actually part of the allure of the sport.  It can easily be seen as a great metaphor for life.

From the start, to make the most of your life, you have to prepare your mind and body...just like a fighter does.  A proper education and putting your thought processes to work is a critical building block for success.  Fighters do this in the gym, through sparring and through learning the ropes.  In life, it may translate into ongoing education, betterment workshops, or something as simple as reading.  Constantly learning and adapting is crucial to growth.  The phrase Knowledge is Power can apply to life inside or outside of the ropes.  That means, using your head as well as harnessing your physical abilities.  They go hand-in-hand.

The same goes for your health or general well-being.  Eat right, eat healthy and you’ll have the fuel and foundation to go the distance.  Feed your body a steady diet of junk food, fast food and processed convenience meals and those easy choices, will lead to hard realities.  Most fighters understand the concept of “garbage in - garbage out”.  Their livelihoods depend on it, but so does your life and career.  How you live your life, the choice you make to live right and how you approach each second of every round will show up on the scorecards at the end.

As you get close to “the main event”, if you expect to win the fight of life, you also have to determine your game plan or your strategy.  You have to know your competition, be able to size them up and figure out a way to be better than they are…better than your situation calls for.  You have to impose your will or orchestrate a game plan that works in your favor, regardless of what or who you may be facing in the other corner.

You also have to, before the first drop of sweat is produced, decide what you want and why you want it.  A fighter would never enter the ring with an ambiguous idea of what he's there to accomplish. Once he steps through those ropes there are no questions what his goal is.  It is to win.  By any means necessary, no matter what it takes, his ultimate, personal measure of success will be through winning.  If you are at the fitness gym, your measure of success might be weight-loss, bench pressing more weight than ever before or just becoming more physically fit.  In the office, it might be that next new job promotion or a raise in salary.  In any case, you have to have a clear picture of what you're striving for.   You don't have to have the exact path to get there or have all of the answers, but you do need to know with a laser beam focus why you are there.

Then, you have to put in the effort. There are no shortcuts to success.  Natural ability or God-given talents will only get you so far.  Success requires hard work and dedication.  Winning in the office might require coming in early or leaving late.  Or maybe volunteering for extra work, even when that is the last thing you need on your plate.   Even a goal as simple as living a more fulfilling life requires effort.

Regardless of financial situation or life circumstances, a big part of fulfillment is just determining to be happy.  You don't have to be content with your life, but you do have to appreciate where you are.  You will never move on to the next level of success or achievement, until you can find joy with what you have right now.  Again, you don't have to be satisfied with your current lifestyle or circumstances, but if you are gracious or grateful for what you have (even if that's just your health)…only then are you energetically, mentally and psychologically ready for the next big thing that life has to offer you.  Every day, every breath, every experience is a gift. You won't get another one while you are shouting "This isn't what I wanted!"  That's just not how life works.

In life or between the ropes, you will face obstacles in the way of adversity or a difficult opponent.  You will be challenged by what you may have to endure or by someone else who is trying to rule over you.  You will most likely have to learn something during the course of the fight or in your life and, at some point you will have to decide how bad you really want it.  You may have to do some soul-searching when the going gets toughest and, in almost all instances, you will be forced to either grow…or give up.  That ultimate test is part of the refining fire that transforms an ordinary human being into a champion.

There are rounds you win and rounds you lose, but what really matters is how you finish the fight.  You will meet adversaries of all sizes, skill-sets and personalities.  How you handle each one will tell a great deal about how your life story unfolds.  The important thing to remember is that it is YOUR fight to win, it’s YOUR life.  YOU control the story of the fight and how it is told.  YOU write the script.  Every combination you throw is a paragraph and every round, a new chapter.  How many words you use, how you use them and how you punctuate every line is what will allow you to close the show and leave the ring, leave this life, as a champion.

Your life is your legacy, so fight the good fight and make it count.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.