Am I In It To Win It? Not So Much…

At the beginning of this year I thought about the major goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I considered some fun desires I have and want to accomplish. But I primarily took inventory of the things I was avoiding because of fear. I wanted to look fear in the face and pursue those things.

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What immediately came to mind was my long standing desire to participate in a triathlon. I’ve wanted to do this for years. It scared me for several reasons. Obviously, it’s physically challenging – you have to do three grueling sports back to back. You also need to be in fairly good shape to do it, and the biggest fear of all – my inability to swim. You can’t participate in a triathlon if you can’t swim.

So, I immediately researched upcoming triathlons in GA and I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. I wanted to be around people who know about this sport and who could teach me the basics. The next thing I wanted to do was identify a race that wasn’t too far into the year. I needed something that required me to start training right away. I found several beginner races in the summer.

Within two months of joining ATC, I began swimming lessons. This experience has been a real journey. I’ve had good days and bad days. There have been moments I showed up at the pool and it was an epic fail–practically left in tears because I felt so defeated. Other times it all seemed to come together without effort and I felt triumphant.

As the weeks have winded down the challenges are ever increasing. As I write this blog, I’m a week and a half away from my sprint triathlon. Honestly, it’s feeling like it’s not going to happen. Every day I ask myself “what have you gotten yourself into?” Though I have certain aspects of the swimming down, I still can’t breathe, which prevents me from being able to swim a full lap without stopping numerous times. For me, this is where the rubber meets the road because I’m past the point of no return. No matter how much I want to quit and wait for a later triathlon, I know that’s not an option.  It’s extremely important for me to walk the walk that I talk. I’m always encouraging others to face their fears and do it afraid. How can I not do this for myself. This process has forced me to face my fears daily. I was initially only worried about the swim, but since I’ve bought my bike a new fear has surfaced. I was afraid to get on it. I initially couldn’t even mount the bike; I couldn’t get my feet in the pedals. When I finally did I was afraid of falling, especially as I rode down hill. These new anxieties threw me into a panic. That voice in my head keeps trying to convince me that I can’t do this.

Just as I want to give into the negativity God sends an earth angel – one I recognize as a friend. My friends are always at the ready to remind me of how far I’ve come. They remind me that three short months ago I was afraid to even get in the water. Now I’m in the pool by myself almost every day.

Despite the fact that my mind keeps telling me I can’t do it, my actions are demonstrating that I can. I AM doing it. I may not do it like I envisioned it, but I’m doing it.

I’m going to keep pushing forward. I’ve made up in my mind that I will do this no matter what. My preference is to finish with dignity. I don’t want to have to keep stopping multiple times to finish my 6 laps. I also don’t want to walk my bike up any hills I might encounter. Because of that, I am going to continue to train and practice every day until race day. I’m determined to do this by any means necessary. All I want to do is finish. I’m not in this to win it, I’m in it to finish!

Now, I have a question for you. Have you confronted any fears this year? If so, please share those with me here on my blog.

My BIGGEST Fear – Why I Had to “Do it Afraid”

Earlier this year when I decided to participate in a triathlon I had two primary objectives: to overcome my fear and to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I’ve always secretly wanted to participate in a triathlon. My inability to swim and my fear of swimming in anything besides a pool really paralyzed me. So far, the main thing propelling me forward has been my desire to experience a feeling of accomplishment. Not just any feeling of accomplishment, but the one you get when you know you did something that you NEVER thought you could do. I know from past experience that when I do something I never thought I could do, it gives me the confidence to try even more things.

My First Swim Practice

Since I made this declaration in January I’ve taken a series of small steps to help me reach my goal of completing my first sprint triathlon in June. First, I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. Next I started following the training calendar with the planned workouts. The last big step is what inspired this blog. I showed up for my first swim practice.

This was the HARDEST thing for me to do! I procrastinated for three weeks before I mustered up the courage to show up for practice. Aside from putting on a bathing suit, which I haven’t done in years, I was mortified to walk in to that swim center as a grown woman who can’t swim. I knew I’d likely be the only one. I feared I would automatically stand out. When I walked in I was terrified and intimidated. I was 15 minutes late and everybody was already in the pool swimming laps. The coach asked me to get in the “beginner’s” lane. Well, it was not what I’d imagined because all the “beginners” were coming towards me at full speed – just like the “experienced” swimmers in the other lanes. I was literally gripping the side of the wall trying to get out of the way. It was then the coach realized I was serious when I said I couldn’t swim. For my safety, and to avoid disrupting the practice, he knew I needed to get on the other side of the pool. Forget swimming laps, my assignment was to just get acclimated to the water.

When I was in that water watching the other swimmers practice, two things happened. First, I kept telling myself, that I could do it. That I would do it. So, I just started putting my face under water, kicking off the wall, and practicing floating. I gradually became more comfortable.

The second thing that happened was I began to visualize myself swimming laps with the team. The more I saw them pass me, the more convinced I became that I will soon join them. That was the most empowering thing. My entire attitude shifted. Just by showing up I knew that I’d taken the first step to realizing my dream. Showing up was half the battle; the hardest part of the battle. So, I guess my take away is – the most important thing we can do when facing our fears is to just show up and do it afraid. After all that’s what courage is, doing the thing that you’re afraid of in spite of fear.

By the way, what sealed this experience was the swimming coach volunteered to give me a quick swim lesson after practice. He reassured me that I would get there. He reminded me that at some point everybody in that pool was in the same position I found myself in at that moment. He dispelled my greatest fear of being judged. Nobody there judged me. They cheered me on and encouraged me to stick with it.

Even now, I’m not practicing with the team yet, but I’m getting there. I have a friend who is a former swim instructor who has committed to work with me. My goal is to be swimming on my own by April when the club starts the open water swim practice. That gives me about three weeks. I will do this!  The video of me swimming laps is coming…stay tuned!

Question: Can you recall a time you faced a major fear and overcame it?

5 Strategies to Acheive Your 2014 Goals!

Happy New Year! This is one of the most hope-filled days of the year. We look at the first day of the year as a new beginning. We ponder what we did the previous year and anticipate what we’ll do differently, or better, in the upcoming year.

One of the things I want to do better this year is to concentrate my efforts on the things that get me to where I ultimately want to be. Basically, I want to narrow my focus. I can’t afford to get wrapped up in a lot of things. Time is such a precious commodity. Each of us gets 24 hours every day, but some people use those hours a lot better than the rest of us. My objective is to look at the things I did -especially as it relates to my professional goals- and see what worked and what didn’t. If it didn’t help me accomplish my goals or impact my target audience, then I have to stop it. I want to focus my energy on doing my BEST work, not “busy” work. Doing one thing well is much better and more effective than doing a lot of things mediocre.

So, as I’m streamlining my priorities for this year, I figured I’d share with you some strategies to facilitate this process.

1. Define your ultimate goal. What is it that you most want to accomplish? (Lose weight, start a business, rebuild an important relationship, etc.)

2. Identify the barriers to accomplishing your goal. What has stopped you in the past from getting this done? Negative people, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, busy schedule, lack of finances?

3. Determine how can you overcome those barriers. What can you do differently? Make new friends, join a support group, change your schedule, switch jobs, get an additional job?

4. Break down your goals into achievable objectives. What can you do over the next 12 months to get closer to achieving your goal? Then, narrow down what you can do each month to hit your 12 month target. Next, determine what you can do this week to accomplish your monthly goal. Finally, scale back to what you can do today to help accomplish that weekly goal.

One of my favorite sayings I heard last year was “inch by inch anything is a cinch.” No matter how lofty your goal is you can do something small every day to get you one step closer to hitting that goal. Also, you will want to make sure you track your progress. You can do this daily, weekly or monthly. This will help you keep your target in mind and help get you back on track if you get off course.

5. Determine the consequence of not reaching that goal. What will happen if you don’t accomplish your goal? Will your health deteriorate? Will you remain in the unhappy state that you’re in – or even worse – become more unhappy? Will you lose material things (house, car, etc.)? When you remind yourself of what’s at stake if you don’t reach your goal it can be a huge motivator when you want to give up.

Finally, the most important thing is to make sure you have someone to keep you accountable. Accountability is one of the greatest contributors to success. If you have someone checking in on you asking about your progress it will inspire you to do what you said you would do. It also helps to know someone is supporting you. If someone else believes in you it will push you when you feel like you can’t do it. If you don’t have a specific person to keep you accountable, you may want to to start a blog. Lots of people have started blogs to gain accountability for goals like weight loss and participation in competitive sports events.

Having said that, I want to share with you one of my major goals for this year. One of the biggest things I want to do this year is participate in a triathlon. I have wanted to do this for years, but I’m so afraid because I can’t swim! Furthermore, I’m EXTREMELY afraid to swim in a lake or an ocean. Nevertheless, this year I will do it, even if I have to do it afraid. I’m going to sign up for a sprint triathlon. There are several near Atlanta happening in May. My first step is to join the Atlanta Triathlon Club so I can get the support and education I need.

Anyway, I plan to chronicle this process, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, I welcome any support or feedback you can offer.

Now, that I’ve shared one of my goals for this year, will you share with me one of yours? What is one thing you want to accomplish in 2014?