A lot of the life lessons I’ve learned have been taught to me through athletics. Those of you who were reading along this summer may remember that the biggest lesson I learned as a 26 year old was patience – patience in training for my half Ironman, in my career, in adjusting to my new city. Patience is something I think we’re all reminded of at least a few times a week, especially in our go-go-go, instant gratification-oriented society these days.
Last week I was sitting on a bike, spinning my legs at Method at 6am with a room full of very awesome and highly motivated people. It was dark, cold and wet outside, but inside the energy was soaring upward by the minute. One of my biggest triathlete inspirations was leading the ride at the front, and as we warmed up, she told a story about a girl who had been in one of her recent classes.
The participant was brand new, not only to Method and spinning, but to cycling in general. She was terrified of falling off the bike. Attending a spin class and afraid of bikes? Way to face your fears, right?! After class, she told the instructor that when the class was asked to add two more gears of resistance, she didn’t think she could do it, but did it anyway – with success! No falling off the bike. No collapsing. Nobody died.
As my heart rate kept rising towards the end of our warm up and I started to develop a sweaty glow on my forehead, the instructor asked our class a question.
In what areas of your life could you add two extra gears?
Falling into the comparison trap is a subject that gets a lot of attention these days, especially with the endless social media life highlight reels at our fingertips. Whether we want to admit it or not, I don’t think anyone on these networks is immune to feeling at least a little bit inferior at some point. While there are undoubtedly problems with this kind of comparison, I don’t think there’s harm in constantly trying to grow and improve as a person, provided the reasons behind it are your own, not the expectations of others.
Personally, the area I’m most competitive with myself is in sports. After I broke my 1:30 half marathon goal in 2013, I started taking more of an interest in triathlon. I saw it as a whole new world of learning and growth, whereas running (while still a big passion) felt very familiar. I would have to fight so hard for marginal improvements, whereas gains in triathlon would be bigger and in my opinion, more rewarding. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work hard – nothing about half Ironman training is easy! I just wanted a new challenge.
In interviews with pro triathletes that I’ve listened to, some who have retirement on the horizon are asked “so what’s life after triathlon going to look like?” For many, I can imagine it’s a difficult concept to grasp. Combine a highly ambitious personality with years of dedicating endless hours to competitive swimming, biking and running, and there’s no doubt that one would have a tough time envisioning life as anything but an athlete.
Athletic success brings a lot of satisfaction. Knowing you can do something better, stronger, faster than before provides a kind of confidence that spills over into so many other aspects of life, and can sometimes be the impetus that gets you moving on goals that you might have previously never thought you’d be capable of. But athletics isn’t everything.
The question “in what areas of life could you add two extra gears“ really got me thinking. I’m no pro athlete, but if I had to pick two areas that tend to dominate, they would be fitness (or health in a broader sense) and blogging (my job on the side of my full-time gig). I think this is because they’re two that I have an enormous amount of control over, and as a type-A personality, it feels comforting to know that. Type-A’s like control!
As we all know though, there’s far more to life than just those two ‘buckets’. There’s friends and family, relationships, spirituality and mental wellness, career, finances, and more, depending on what your life priorities are. Spending a significant amount of time thinking about ‘adding two extra gears’, I’ve decided that the social and spiritual areas are what need the most work. I’ve already started, and will be keeping those two in mind as I move closer to building my 2016 vision board. I’ll also be paying more attention than usual to both when I work through my own Gorgeous Guide to Goal Conquering between now and the end of this year.
Turning the tables, I’m curious about your answers to the question.
In what areas of your life could you add 2 extra gears?
Even if you don’t feel like commenting below and sharing, I hope this post has given you a little something to think about today. And of course, if you know someone else who would benefit from reading, I’d love for you to share this with them!