3 Powerful Lessons Training for The @IronmanTri Is Teaching Me

Ironman

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A month ago I began reading a book called ‘How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds’ based on the works of Earl Nightingale. Great book by the way! I highly suggest it.

At a certain point in the book, Earl Nightingale suggested you write down a few important, yet specific goals. Nothing new right? I have a stack of cards spread throughout my home with goal cards. I’ve taught on the concept of SMART goals for goodness’ sake. This was going to be an easy exercise.

Or so I thought …

So I dusted off my journal (Which I haven’t written in over a month!), opened up to a clean page and thought hard about the top three goals I wanted to achieve. I knew getting a hold of my finances and achieving financial freedom was on the top of the list of goals I’d like to achieve, so I wrote down two goals – one centered around being debt-free and the other centered around my desired yearly net income by the year 2020.

However, health also has been an increasing priority in my life and therefore I decided to create a goal around that area as well. But here’s the deal. In the past, I’ve created health goals and if I achieved them they were short lived. Ultimately I’d end up back where I started … Very frustrating!

How would this health goal be different from every other one I created? I knew I needed to do some radical, out-of-the-box, thinking this time around. Out of nowhere – as if by divine intervention – Ironman popped into my head … NO, not the movie! The Ironman races – one of the most physically and mentally grueling triathlons you can participate in.

Yup! That one!!

I had no idea of what the Ironman entailed in terms of physical, monetary, and time commitment. But needless to say, I wrote down in my notebook,

Participate in the Ironman 2016

Fair enough. I had two years to train for this “Ironman thingy.” I immediately (and impulsively) got onto Facebook and shouted out loud for the whole world to hear, that I was going to do Ironman 2016 … “Who’s with me?”

The response was not completely what I expected, LOL. I had a couple, “YES. I’m in.” But mostly got, “I’m not that crazy?!” An hour later, my dear friend proceeded to text me:

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2mile run inspired?!

After the initial shock and horror, I proceeded to crack up uncontrollably. Talk about making a decision without knowing all the facts. But nonetheless, I made a decision and had every intention on sticking with it.

Well, let me just say that it’s been nearly a month since that day and to my own surprise, I’m still forging ahead with this crazy idea. It’s been a challenge since day one, mentally and physically, but I haven’t given up on my new-found dream of becoming a Iron(wo)man.

But in the past month, as I struggle to push my body just a little harder than the day before and fight with my internal conversations of “Just give up and go back to bed. Nobody would blame you for it,” I remind myself of what this would mean for me and the promise that I’ve made to myself.

I’m also reminded of how many times I had thrown in the towel and how those choices have impacted my life. But mostly in a very short time, I’ve learned three very powerful lessons that I’m taking into my training, my business and my life in general.

And so here they are:

Your Feelings Have Nothing to Do With Commitment

Feelings are based on an “emotional state or reaction” to something – often times based on a belief that is irrational and inherited and not necessarily based on truth. You having feelings about things every day.

“I feel tired.”

“I feel angry.”

“I’m feeling overwhelmed and confused.”

“I feel happy.”

I’m not trying to say you should ignore your feelings and emotions. On the contrary, they often act as a guidance system of sorts letting know if you’re on track with something or if you should stay clear.

But here is where it gets tricky. We often rely on our feelings to justify not taking action on something we’ve committed to doing.

Here are some examples:

Not writing your book – “I don’t feel inspired.”

Not writing your blog post – “I feel overwhelmed.”

Not working out when you said you would – “I’m tired and I have don’t have time.”

Maybe you’re right. Maybe you don’t feel inspired, you are overwhelmed and tired, and you don’t have time. But what does that have to do with what you’ve committed to?!

I often watch this video (below). Why? Because every time I do, it reminds me that I’m sure there were countless times (especially in the beginning) when Lindsey Vonn didn’t feel like training … felt tired, overwhelmed, and maybe even questioned herself. But even in the face of how she felt, she stayed focused on her commitment to being the best Alpine Ski racer she can be.

As of a result of her fierce commitment, she has become an American World Cup Champion many times over in skiing.

There is yet a morning, that I don’t get up and have a moment where I tell myself things such as, “Go back to bed. It’s cold outside.” In that same thought I remind myself of my commitment to participate in the Ironman, and I’m not going to reach that goal by going back to bed simply because I’m tired.

My feeling tired has nothing to do with my commitment to training my body to the level where it needs to be to participate in this grueling mental and physical challenge. The only thing that matters is my word and doing what I said I would do, simply because I said so.

You Can Either Choose Convenience or Commitment

One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard was from John Assaraf,

If you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient; if you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.

How many times have you been in situation in your life where you were doing just enough to get by? Maybe it was a job you had, where you did just enough not to get fired, but not necessarily pulling your weight. Or maybe it’s a program that you created, that you pulled together one evening, knowing it wasn’t up to par, but decided to published it anyway.

For many years I did what was convenient in many areas of my life. I let how I felt and outside circumstances dictate my level of commitment – as if commitment had levels!

On occasion (especially when it came to work), I would go above and beyond, but eventually something would happen and I would sabotage the whole process. It was a pattern that showed up in all areas of my life.

Ironman

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Commitment can, and usually is, inconvenient and uncomfortable. That’s usually how it goes unfortunately. There is nothing convenient about getting up at 4:30 AM in the morning – after getting to bed at 10:30/11 PM the night before – to put on your running shoes and go for a run when you’re tired …  While all you want to do is snuggle back into that cozy comforter and snooze for another hour.

There’s nothing convenient about planning your meals so you can stay on a healthy diet, eating chicken salads and loading your plate with veggies, when you really want to devour a cheeseburger and fries.

There’s nothing convenient about having to stay up for another hour to write that blog post or newsletter, or post some social media updates when you’ve had a long day, you’re exhausted and wish the post could just write itself.

But there’s the type of life you live when living one of convenience and one you live based on commitment. And I can honestly say that although a committed life is not “easier,” it’s much more fulfilling – personally and professionally.

Commitment will give you an inspired life … convenience will allow you to barely get by and keep the status quo.

You Have to Go Through Discomfort Before You’re Comfortable

Growth by it’s very definition is the gradual increase of something (or someone). But to grow, you often have to go through a level of discomfort before you’re comfortable. Then to get to the next level, you’ll have to go through the discomfort yet again, until you reach a new level of comfort … And so on and so on.

We’ve all experienced this in our lives. From the time we were babies, we had moments of discomfort before we reached comfort – falling endlessly before taking our first steps, learning how to write, getting up in front of our class to share a story, our first play, our first sports competition.

But with each area of discomfort we took on, we grew and began to feel comfortable with the process. We continued to come across new areas in our life where discomfort showed up. But we continued to forge ahead and break through that level of discomfort.

However, somewhere along they way we began to equate discomfort with fear and pain. Discomfort became too painful and therefore we conformed to doing things “easy” and not rock the boat. But I’ve come to learn that it’s only in working through the so-called painful moments that growth is possible – resulting in big results and rewards in your life.

Ultimately it’s up to you if you want a so-so life or one that inspires you to live fully each and every day. I’ve chosen the latter. Don’t get me wrong. I often go through internal (and in some cases external) turmoil and resistance. It hasn’t been easy thus far, and I know it’s only going to get tougher. But I center around the thought that completing the Ironman means more than just having “physical” strength and endurance – it means the same for mental strength as well.

If I can do this, what else is possible? Better yet, if I can do this, there’s no challenge I can’t face. Now THAT is a great reason to continue on, don’t you think?

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Will I follow through on my commitment? What obstacles are bound to get in my way? Will I continue to listen to the naysayers and pessimists telling me, “You have to train for YEARS for something like this!” and eventually concede?

Or will I simply stop judging the process and continue to move forward, knowing that past the pain, discomfort, doubts, negative self-talk, and naysayers, there’s a seat waiting for me to claim my Ironman status – and a world of unlimited possibilities. Just because I committed and said so.

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