My new found fear

Over the last ten years of my life I have been an extreme exerciser. I was sitting down thinking about this the other day and I thought I would try to figure out how many hours I have done, after an honest assessment I worked out that I have done over 11,500 hours of exercise in this time! I’ve raced Ironman triathlon to a high level, had days where I taught 6 classes at the gym and I’ve completed training weeks where I exercised for over 60 hours at high intensities.  

But something really interesting happened to me a few months ago, I got afraid of doing exercise! Let me explain, I stopped competing in Ironman around 18 months ago and after pulling away from triathlon I decided to change my focus away from the swimming and cycling aspects of triathlon. I wanted to have some physical challenges that didn’t take up so much of my time so I got back into the weights room, did some yoga and competed in some running events. But a few months ago I decided to do the Challenge Wanaka Half Ironman as something fun to train for over summer.  

Once I had signed up for the race the fear overwhelmed me. For some reason I was scared of doing the training for this event. I found that I doubted if I could complete a three hour training ride, something that was easy for me 18 months earlier. My mind was full of doubt and I found myself skipping sessions and losing focus for this race. 

This experience gave me an insight into how a lot of people must think about exercise in general. When we first stop doing exercise we think we’ll get back into it in a couple weeks - but the longer we leave it the more unrealistic we become about how hard it is. It’s like exercise has grown into this big scary monster that we are afraid to confront, and the longer we leave it the bigger and scarier it gets.  

The way I broke down these fears was to start small and build from there. I did an hour training ride, then a two hour ride and in no time I was back up to over three hours wondering what I had been worried about.  

Don’t be afraid, get out there and do something, your big scary monster will disappear.


Mid life crisis

I was out running on a sun soaked Wanaka morning the other day with one of my best mates Sean. Because we don’t see much of each other Sean and I use our running time to catch up and often have deep conversations.  As we were heading up a tree covered trail Sean asked me a great question; “Will you have a mid life crisis?”. I love this question because it makes me look at the decisions I make in my life today and how they will affect my life in the future.  

A mid life crisis normally comes about when people have compromised some important areas of their life e.g. their health in pursuit of something else - often their career. These people wake up in their 50’s, they are overweight and unhealthy but have all the money they ever needed. At this time they try to rectify the years of unhealthy living by totally turning their lives around. Often it’s too late.  

When people are on the verge of a mid life crisis they can no longer keep putting off bad decisions and once this is identified they create dramatic change in their lives. At this point the decisions people have to make are huge, it’s the long term denial of small decisions that create the crisis.   

Think about brushing your teeth. You may be thinking, what does this have to do with a mid life crisis? Brushing your teeth is something we all know we need to do twice a day. If you are a really hard core about your teeth you will floss and use mouthwash as well. If you occasionally miss your daily dental care regime it probably won’t matter in the long term, you’ll brush, floss and mouthwash tomorrow. But if this becomes the norm, ten to fifteen years from now your teeth will be in terrible condition, you will be at crisis point and have to invest money in your dental care. At that time you will wish you had kept up this simple daily habit, a habit that is so easy to maintain. 

So the question I have for you is; are the small decisions you are making today going to lead to a mid life crisis? The good news is small decisions are easy to change, just be committed to making them today.


What about the process? 

When I became a person that sat down and set goals every 4 months I spent quite a bit of time reading lots of books trying to find the best process for doing this. A term that would come up a lot was ‘S.M.A.R.T Goals’. This states that goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So being the good student I am I went ahead and produced my goals based around this standard.   

A few months later I managed to meet one of the most successful people I had ever met. This man impressed me in so many ways. He seemed to be of a high level in all areas of his life. When I got to sit down and have a chat with him I couldn’t wait to tell him about my goal process, as I was pretty sure that he would have a similar way of setting goals. I was also thinking that he may be able to give me some tips on how to improve my process.  

When I asked him about how he went about setting his goals, his answer shocked me. He said ‘I have some ideas in my head that I’m working towards’. I almost didn’t believe him ‘But you write them down?’ I asked, ‘No I don’t, that stuff doesn’t really work for me’ he said. How could this be? This man who had success in so many areas of his life didn’t do his goals in the S.M.A.R.T way? What had I missed?  

What I’ve learnt since that conversation is that there is no one way to set goals that works for everyone. Sure, S.M.A.R.T goals are great for some people, but they don’t work for everyone. Your job is to continually figure out what the best way is to motivate yourself through goal setting. This process will evolve as time goes on. I know that the way I go about setting goals today is completely different to my process ten years ago. I’ve learnt over time how to make them more effective for me.  

Think about times when you have been successful. Look at how you set the targets for yourself at those times and then duplicate that. Over time you will improve your process, a process that you have designed just for yourself that you know works for you.