Have a little help from your friends

Throughout my years as an athlete I have so many memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life, crossing the finish line in my first Ironman and achieving goal times and places in certain races will be moments that I’ll treasure forever. However other than those key successes or big disappointments I find it hard to remember the details of each race, they all merge into one and individual race memories are few and far between, all except one area where I hold vivid memories of - those moments where I connected with my supporters during races. 

I’ll never forget riding out into the middle of nowhere during an Ironman race and off in the distance I saw this crazy bunch of people all dressed up in costumes and making a lot of noise and realising they were my friends and family, or the time I had hit the wall in a marathon and Jan, a close friend and member from the gym, telling me to ‘stick at it’ when I passed her. I remember these moments so clearly and I think that is due to these people being a big part of my experience as an athlete, and I’m not just talking about during my race days.  

There’s the saying ‘we stand on the shoulders of those who come before us’ and while I know this meant in a more evolutionary context, those who came before us paved the path for us as we move forward, but I think there’s a nice adjustment that can be made to this saying ‘we stand on the shoulders of those who support us’. 

No goal is totally achieved by one person alone, a big part of any change, growth or achievement is having people around you to support you. If you look at any period in your life where you progressed as a person I’m sure you can identify certain key people who were alongside you giving you all different types of support. Without these people who knows if you would have succeeded, maybe you would have but I think we all understand how important having support is. 

One thing I find interesting around the idea of support is that it’s often neglected in the planning process when you are trying to create change in your life. We can develop these amazing plans around how we are going to move towards an area of change but we don’t commit a huge amount of time considering who can support us, how they can support us, what we need to communicate to them, and what we need to do to give back to them. These questions are very important to ask yourself when you create your plans and goals because if you can identify good answers and allow those around you to know how they can support you, you are giving them the tools they need to help you. 

Sometimes I see people trying to achieve fitness goals who haven’t done a very good job of  communicating to the people in their lives about how they can support them. This makes it harder for them to be successful because they can often feel resistance when they move away from their normal behaviours as they focus on their goals. For example, your partner comes home from work and out of the blue you tell them that you have to leave because your running group starts in 15 minutes or you need to leave work early because you have a class that you need to attend, but you only tell your boss 30 minutes before you need to leave. Both of these situations could be avoided if you had put some pre-planning and thought into how these people could support you towards your growth, what they needed to know to make it easy for them to support you and what you needed to do to make it work for them as well. 

There many different types of support that we need when we move towards change and the one thing I have learnt is that the majority of people in our lives want to support us and are more than willing to do their bit to help.  Our job is to become a master of understanding how they can support us, using great communication around what they can do for you, how you can make it easy for them and to make sure we give back to them. 

If you can apply this thinking to your planning there’s a much higher chance that you will be successful but  more importantly you’ll also build stronger connections with these special people in your world.

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Bevan Eyles