Yesterday I met with my coach – I have been going through coaching for a few months now, for work, but it’s also helping me with my personal outlook on life – and there was something that we talked about that kind of caused me to have one of those light-bulb moments.
No matter whether work or personal-related I mentioned to him how I constantly have these two voices in my head competing with one another. You know those voices? The one that says “wow, you are doing great! Your confidence is amazing! You deserve this!” and the one that retorts “You could have done better. Why didn’t you react differently? Why did you give in? No one is ever going to respect you. You don’t really deserve this.” To simplify things, we’ll call these the LEFT (good feedback voice) and RIGHT (negative feedback voice) voices.
Listening and following the LEFT voice happens often and generally creates a good atmosphere in my mind and spirit. These are the days where I feel good, I feel accomplished, and I feel like, hey, life is actually really OK, nothing to complain about here. He explained to me that this is when I’m in acceptance mode. I accept all that is my life, am ok with it and am in the present moment. When the RIGHT voice kicks in, I’m not being accepting anymore and I may be in the past, I may be comparing to others, I may be comparing to past results of something or I may be somewhere too far in the future. Everyone has these voices apparently. Top Athletes have these voices for sure as they are always striving to do better, go faster, work harder. Nothing wrong with a little drive and motivation of course, but it can affect you in a negative way as well.
I mentioned “results” above. One thing he said to me, the thing that put the light bulb on, was “You are too results oriented instead of goal oriented” In ONLY focusing on the results, i.e., “I have to hit our targets, I have to accomplish xyz before the end of the month, my team has to clear the aging before xyz” or “I should run farther in that amount of time, I am not losing weight, the number on the scale is wrong, I should be a size 42 before my birthday”, the goal actually gets lost. I’m too far into having to see that result that I’m not in the present and I’ve lost sight of what the actual goal is.
Let me put it another way. Yesterday I wrote that I was disappointed in myself for *only* running 13.5 KM in an hour and a half. Seriously???? How can I be disappointed in myself? I had a goal and it was to run for an hour and a half. I did exactly that. In that moment I achieved success of what I set my goal as. No one, anywhere, required me to go farther, faster, or break any personal records. What am I running for? For my health and for fitness. I’m not running to lose weight. I was NEVER running to lose weight. I started running because I wanted to run. I wanted to know what it felt like. I wanted to become a runner if it was possible to do so. And it was. I AM a runner! I am spending way too much time and energy outside of the present moment. Comparing myself to others who clearly have different fitness levels, different bodies, even a different age than me. I will never run like my friend M, who is 6 foot tall and has lean legs as long as most of my body, so I should stop even thinking in those terms.
So what is the goal? What am I setting out to achieve?
Yes I would like to lose weight. I would love to be one of those people who reports in an excellent loss every week but I’m just not that person. I have lost 20KG. That is nothing to shake a stick at!! I have 10 to go. So WHAT if I don’t hit that by a certain date, time or age? Am I then a failure? I think not.
I would like to be healthy and fit. And for the most part I am extremely healthy (I NEVER *knocks wood* get sick, not really) and I have no signs of any hereditary diseases like what both of my parents have (Diabetes). I quit smoking 1 ½ years ago and have absolutely no plans on ever doing that again (and it’s not conducive to running anyway). My BMI is too high, but as long as I keep working at this it’s a not issue. I am, for the most part very fit; I have rock hard muscles in my legs, my arms are really shaping up, I can feel my curves coming back to their original shape. And speaking of fitness, I can run for an hour or longer without stopping. If one is not fit, that is certainly not possible.
I want to have a life too. I want to enjoy my friends, my family and YES, I want to enjoy food and drink. I’m not going to apologise for that and I’m going to stop freaking worrying about how many hours in the gym or running I’ll have to spend to work off that session I had at the Hard Rock Café or from this upcoming football (soccer for the North Americans) and concert weekend I’m about to experience. I’m going to run and go to the gym because I WANT to and for no other reason. Sure, it helps, but I’m not going to do it because I HAVE to have RESULTS in some tangible form. What about results in the non-tangible form? Am I happy? Do I feel good? If the answer is “YES” then I have my result right there!!
I want to be in the present as much as possible. Sure the RIGHT voice will kick in now and again, but I’m going to listen more to the LEFT voice whenever possible. I feel a lot better listening to the LEFT, I’m content, I’m confident, I’m focused, I’m driven. That’s what I’m striving for. The goal is the here and now and doing the very best I can for this particular day.