I've been learning (with increasing frequency) that proving something to someone else is not a healthy or viable reason to do something. I mean, it works. Don't get me wrong. That's how I learned to play guitar. My brother-in-law told me I couldn't play a piece of sheet music I purchased. And so I did nothing but learn to play it, even drawing a paper fretboard so I could practice silently during other activities. Guess what? I learned it in a couple of weeks, and I can still play passable acoustic guitar to this day.Triathlon for me has often been about proving that I can do it. Once I started my own business, it was about proving that I could run the business and still train. After my divorce, I did a half ironman and a marathon because I wanted to prove I was still able to, despite the change in schedule and demands on my time and money.The whole sport of triathlon, really, is about proving one can do something very, very difficult. And when we emerge at the finish line, having accomplished what we set out to do, it's a great feeling!The problem comes in when we don't really like doing it, or we forget why we like doing it, but we keep on because people are bound to ask us if we are racing, or how we did in our race, and we don't want to disappoint them. That can work for awhile, even years, but it makes the whole thing a lot less fun.I recently read a book called The Desire Map, which encourages readers to first examine how it is they want to FEEL in life. (Powerful, relaxed, vital, graceful, sexy, reverent, etc.) Then the reader moves through a process of identifying what sort of things he or she would do in their life, if in fact they were going to feel that way.As a result of the process in the book, I've identified that vitality, grit and nerve are important feelings to me, as are bliss and reverence toward myself and other living things. Thinking about that, I know I want to remain fit and strong, and challenge my body. Here's my personal list of what I need to do, regarding my body and wellness, if I want to feel those feelings:
So I can see that, although triathlon is important to me, and I want to keep at it, pulling back from a half-iron to an Olympic this fall because I haven't been able to stick to my training plan is NOT the end of the world. Nor should it be "embarrassing." In fact, it's in keeping with how I want to feel, because my relationships with my kids and others in my life, and the success of my business are deeply ingrained in my goal feelings, as well. And sometimes that means I can't do a three-hour bike ride every weekend.My takeaway from delving deeply into the book (and I actually went on a little retreat to the local campground to get away and really bury myself in this idea) is that if you aren't pursuing goals that are going to make you feel good, maybe they aren't the right goals. And if you lose your excitement about your goals, it's time to imagine how you will feel when you reach them. Because it's the feeling you are truly aiming for.
Editor at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.