Ready to commit?

Some goals take longer to prepare for than others.

Last year I completed monthly challenges to help me grow. And there I was at the end of December, proud of my accomplishments, unsure of what my next challenge would be, and of course as with every holiday season, feeling like I had consumed one too many holiday cookies.  It was time to find my next challenge, and I knew it had to be something a little bit foreign and even a little bit scary. And then there it was, in my inbox: Ready to get strong and muddy? Register today for a Tough Mudder! And that was it -- it was foreign; I was scared; I roped my husband in as my partner-in-crime and I registered. Instead of one month of intense focus, I settled in for six months of training. Now that the big event is less than a month away, I have been reflecting on that commitment to a long-term goal.

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1. Find one thing to commit to

Instead of choosing to take on multiple projects at once, find one new thing that you want to commit yourself to learning or training for in the next few months. Whether it’s Tough Mudding, learning to code, or even reading a book, making the conscious choice will help you focus your intentions and earn a greater feeling of accomplishment.

2. Find someone to commit to it with you

For the Tough Mudder, my husband and I are a fierce two-person team. We have been training together and pushing each other for the past six months. Our individual approaches to the training have been different.  He’s more of a dabbler with the workouts, but brings his all when he does dive in.  My approach -- and I’m sure unsurprising to those who know me -- is methodical, scheduled, following the training plan to a “T”. Despite our different approaches, it’s been key to know our big event is coming and that we’ll be in it together. Regardless of what your commitment is or the size of your team, make sure to be aware of what everyone’s goals are before you start out, and that each of you is equally committed to achieving your individual goals. You’ll find yourselves more accountable to each other even when your schedule feels too busy.

3. Question your schedule

Speaking of busy schedules, get rid of those assumptions about what you do and don’t have time for. I have learned that there is no “best time” to create a new goal for yourself. There will always be work obligations, trips, and people to visit. If we’re waiting for the perfect moment, it’ll never come. Through this training, I’ve gotten into the habit of looking at the training plan on Sunday evenings, and planning out which day I’m going to do which workout, based on various time constraints and other commitments that week.  It allows me to prioritize my goal, while still meeting my other obligations. Having a system that allows for some flexibility is key for dealing with life’s perturbations. Find a system that works for you and stick to it.

4. Be ok with the fear

Trying something new is scary! Maybe you’re afraid of not being immediately excellent at this new activity. Chances are, in fact, you won’t be. But if we don’t push ourselves to take on something new, then you’ll be doing whatever it is you’ve already mastered for the rest of your life. If that sounds kind of boring, it’s time to face the fear. I know I’m scared that I’ll have trained this whole time, and that I’ll go out on race day and not feel my best. But I also feel pretty confident that I’d rather give it a go and see how it feels to cross that finish line than to sit on the sidelines wondering.  

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So the countdown has begun: T minus 23 days to go. Post-race breakdown to come . . . as long as I survive the dreaded Tough Mudder ice bath! Wish me luck!

 

Lauren Laitin