Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Focus On The Process, Not The Finish Line!

This time of year we all tend to start thinking about what we want our end result to be.

Maybe we have an idea of what we will look like for spring break or we envision having enough energy to conquer a busy summer full of plans.  Or maybe we even just want to FINALLY make that change that we've been telling ourselves could get us to "who we want to be".

It's easy to think you are separate from other people, that your struggle is unique and different.  We are all taught to accept our differences from one another.  There are times however when this mindset can make us feel like we aren't capable of having what others do.

It's tempting to figure that some people are just naturally gifted.  It's convincing to look at someone and think they have it easy.  It's even been said..."they don't have to work for it, like I do" or "they've always been that way".

I'm here to tell you that it's NOT true.  Nobody is ELITE!  We may all have different origins but our focus is always to better ourselves!

When I struggled with my weight and my depression I used to make rationales all the time as to why I couldn't get what I wanted.  My excuses usually were placed in some outside factor that I didn't have control over.  This made it easier for me to tell myself that no matter how hard I worked I couldn't have what others did.  I would tell myself that they were the "elites" and I was just a "normal" person.

So naturally, given this mindset, I took the position of "Why bother?"

But there were BIG issues with my outlook.  Comparing myself to others was just the start of it.  But why was I giving SO much creedence to "genes" and "talent" and "luck"?  Why were my comparisons always so focused on one end of the spectrum versus the other?  Why is it because I couldn't see myself being a 2:10 marathoner or 18 minute 5Ker I figured it wasn't worth trying to be a runner at all?  Why is it that I looked in the mirror and told myself I just didn't have the genes to have a nice body or that I just wasn't lucky enough to be as happy as others?

But we do this all the time!

The fact of the matter is we are all living unique lives with inconceivable circumstances.  Our gifts as well as our limitations are as exclusive to us as our eye color or our artistic ability.  We aren't only valuable if we can run a 5 minute mile or can wear a size 4.  But we CAN make the most of the circumstances in our lives and strive for optimizing our experience with what we've been given.

As I've gotten to know more and more people in fitness and running I've had some BIG realizations and probably the most important is the idea that MY experience is completely relative to anyone else's!  This was reinforced for me recently when I had a client tell me, "I never knew you struggled with your weight, I just figured you were always this way".  My how the tables had turned!

I've met some incredible athletes and even had an opportunity to workout with or even race some of them.  Being around these "elites" and learning that they struggle with their own limitations I can tell you 100% that I SEE the same frustrations, the same setbacks and the same disbelief when they achieve personal records.

It's not just what I can see now though, here's what I didn't SEE when I brushed them off as "elites":

  • The dedication to a clean and healthy diet that happens behind closed doors during 90% of meals.
  • The workouts so grueling they resulted in puking, passing out, falling down or groggy early mornings after.
  • The consistent behaviors that made getting to the workout and staying true to daily habits a foregone conclusion rather than a sporadic coincidence.
  • The sacrifices made to nights of debauchery with friends so that they were rested, fueled and mentally focused for the next day's workouts.
  • The mental anguish and debilitating doubt of oneself that comes from defeat in competition.

We romanticize the elite athletes among us as "superhuman" and sometimes we even criticize them if they don't show outward displays of joy, elation or amazement at their achievements.  But here's the thing I've learned, they have fallen in love with the process it takes to get there.  When things get hard they tell themselves "This is what it takes" and they keep pushing forward even when they can't see a vision of success right in front of them.

Your motivation should never be a body, a reward or even recognition from others.  We find our trophies in the habits that make us a better person.  Everything else is just veneer!

See ya soon!

Coach Joe

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