I thought moving across country would be the biggest change of my life, but that is peanuts compared to taking the most gigantic leap of faith ever to pursue a new career. These last few months have been full of more highs than lows. I may be a little too excited as my colleagues told me, “You are so happy, it’s actually annoying.” It all is reminding me though of how important it is to do the following to truly reach a place of change and happiness.
- Be honest with yourself.Know what your skills are and know when you feel like you are “faking” it. It’s cool to do that short term. I have done it, but it has left me feeling a bit like an imposter though. Like I could be an Implementation Analyst or an Associate Director but at what point are people going to realize I am not meant for these jobs? It is not that I am incapable of them. It is just that it is not where my heart is. When those feelings became harder to ignore, that’s when you know something has to change.
- If something peaks your interest, no matter what it is, investigate it. It may lead you to something you want to do or it may be part of an elimination tactic. Either way, it is to your benefit to at least learn more about something before ruling it or out or pursuing it.I know I have met health coaches of different sorts over the years, and every time, something inside me lit up like oh maybe I want to do that. But of course, as you know by now, I ignored that for years. And here I am, almost two decades into my “career” that I finally feel ready to acknowledge them.
- We worry so much about going into financial debt to pursue a dream that instead we go into emotional debt. (Cheesy I know but stay with me here). We fear the financial and believe me, I COMPLETELY understand that. We stay at a job or a career because the thought of either spending money on more schooling (or to get a business going) or taking a pay cut stresses us out more than the possibility of what we could have. We keep our cushy job or paycheck, but slowly, our mental state and happiness deteriorates. We check in each day to a job physically, but mentally we are checked out. It just is not sustainable. At some point, when we are ready, the fear of the unknown actually becomes enticing and freeing. Honor that.
4.You are never going to be 100% ready to make a transition. I am certain if I waited for that to happen, I would never be able to leave my current job or company. The decision to leave may be the hardest pill to swallow, but once that decision has been made, it is liberating. You actually can devote 100% of your time and efforts to pursuing what your heart desires.5. We are greeted with opportunities that seem to make no sense or do not fit in to what our “plan is” yet they seem like they are meant for us to take. It is often hard to accept these opportunities and for many of us, we don’t. We have no idea what we are missing out on. When I joined Pruvit, it did not make any “sense” to me rationally at all at the time, but emotionally or mentally, I knew it was something I should be doing. I had no experience doing any kind of community based marketing nor did I even think I would be any good at it. Yet, I just felt a strong attraction to it. And so when I decided to pursue it, despite how challenging it has been, I have not doubted that it is part of my journey.And really, what “plan” did I have that even made sense anymore? I was at a point in my career where I maybe could have stayed at it and been successful, but then again, to my 1st point earlier, how long would I really be able to fake it and sustain it?
So yeah, signing up to be an Independent Promoter on the outside seemed ridiculous or crazy, but in actuality it has been another one of my best decisions ever. It is guiding me to my ultimate destiny of coaching.
6. When it comes to who you surround yourself with, know there is a difference between those who want to help you and those who want to sabotage you.
I realize that may sound extreme so let me explain. I do not mean that people will deliberately try to kill your spark or idea. I just mean that people often react based on their own fears. Many people come from a place of practicality where your plan seems outrageous (and nothing they would ever do). So they may advise you against it or give you all the reasons why you should not pursue your plan.
Versus people who believe in you and your talents and your dreams and they whole heartedly support you. They want you to find that passion and happiness. Many of them have walked in your shoes before and will even advise you on how to prepare for your journey. I have gotten far more of this type of reaction than the former, fortunately.
You want to find the people who give you reasons and guidance to follow your dreams and not those who will find every argument for why you should not. (Maybe this is what all the kids mean by finding your tribe).
- No matter what job we have, we learn transferable skills. They may show themselves in different forms or different scenarios, but the skills are the same. Learning how to communicate whether it is with peers or subordinates, those are the same skills you need for clients or customers or patients. Time management, project management, analysis, coaching. They are all transferrable.
- If you are passionate about something, TALK ABOUT IT. I feel like ever since it has been announced that I will be leaving my job, I have had more conversations about my passion and business ideas than ever before. I used to always worry that if I talked too much about it, I would put my job at jeopardy. People would see me light up and realize that was missing when I talked about work. And there is truth in that, but the reality is, people can still do a job and have interests elsewhere. The point is though, we should be proud of the many facets we have. Our jobs do not always define us so we do not need to downplay our interests.The unexpected thing is, I actually feel more bonded to many people than I did before because it’s like I am being far more authentic. People are learning more about me and likewise, I am learning about them. How many times do we get on calls or join meetings with people and we know virtually nothing about them? We do not know that a woman is a 17 year cancer survivor. Or that another woman started a walking club in the basement of an office which lead to one of its members losing 100 lbs.
For me, realizing all these important lessons over the last few months has been the validation I have needed. It is so easy to get comfortable or just content in life. And maybe that is ok. Maybe for some that is enough. For me though, it no longer is. I am grateful for everything that has led me to this moment as it has given me such new perspective, and I am humbled to be able to share that with you.
Foreword: What is the CrossFit Open? Well according to the CrossFit games website https://games.crossfit.com/about-the-games it is a test to find the “Fittest on Earth”. To get there, the first step is the Open which anyone over 14 can do at affiliates around the world. Thousands and thousands and thousands of athletes register not to make it to the games, but to test their own fitness for 5 weeks enduring 5 grueling workouts.
With just one mysterious and sure to be harrowing workout left in the 2017 CrossFit Open, it is the perfect opportunity to regroup and remember what is important as we go into the final stretch. To date, I have seen so many inspiring moments that make me pretty emotional actually. (I love seeing my fellow athletes triumph and conquer). I have also been witness to many of the downsides of the Open. In all the hype, it is quite easy to lose focus. Many athletes forget that The Open is not about where you place on the leader board. It is about how you tackle it, both mentally and physically. It is about exposing weaknesses so that you stop running from them and start working on them. It is about how you did compared to yesterday and about where you want to be tomorrow.
- There is no shame in scaling. There’s a misconception that when it comes to the scaling option that it will not be challenging or it is seemingly easy. For those who are not quite at RX but (they perceive themselves) to be above scaled, they often are torn as to which to do? Do you go out of your comfort zone to RX or do you scale and just haul ass? The question should be, which makes sense for you and your goals?Athletes need to understand there is no shame is scaling. People often want so badly to RX because they think it has more prestige. Maybe it does but it is not about prestige. It is about doing what your body can handle and using it as a benchmark. Take 17.4* for example. The women’s deadlift weight was 155 (RX) versus 95 (scaled). If 155 is close to your 1 RM, my personal philosophy is why why WHY would you want to do that? You may get a few reps but you probably will not advance to the next part. 55 reps are A LOT which will inevitably lead to form being compromised (which is not a good thing)-if you can even lift the bar after a few reps. A friend of mine thought the scaled would not be hard at all, and despite that her 1 RM is about 160, she contemplated doing RX. Fortunately (and thankfully after our coach told her hellll no), she did decide to do scaled. And guess what? It was still a challenging workout despite that it was not RX. And guess what else? She killed it scaled and walked away feeling gratified.
- The Open is not the end all be all. Many athletes get so hell bent on achieving greatness in an Open workout as if it is the only ever true defining moment. The Open ought to be viewed as a milestone to set new goals to work towards for the next year. The Open is not the last chance to successfully ever complete a movement or get a new PR. Doing 17.4* twice in one day just to attempt to get your first ever Hand-Stand-Push-Up (HSPU), for example, is not advisable and can be argued that it is rather foolish. (athletes get Rhabdo making choices like that). Not to mention, that perceived ego is what gives the CrossFit community a bad rep.
Similarly (and in my own personal experience), for 17.3*, I knew going into it my goal was just to get to the chest of bar pulls up in the 4th round, and then gracefully call it quits. I was asked why I didn’t even try to snatch 95 pounds, and my response was because it’s 20 pounds over my 1RM. It’s like a 0.00421% chance I could snatch it. If I ever want to challenge my 75 pound PR, I rather do it strategically and not in an open workout where not only am I beyond my capability, I would be extremely fatigued with bad form (which would be compromising to my health even if I failed). I would prefer setting a new PR on any old day when the strength portion calls for snatches. I would be able to SMARTLY work up to (jumping from 65 pounds to 95 pounds as was the case in 17.3* is a ridiculously big jump for an average munchkin like myself). I do not want to go that heavy when I am racing against a clock. I am confident I can snatch more than my existing 1 RM, but I don’t need the open as the forum to try it.
There are plenty of chances after the Open to reach your goals, so do not put unrealistic pressure on yourself to achieve something when you are quite frankly just not ready for it.
- Focusing on the “can’t”. There are always going to be times that even the best of the best will come across movements they struggle with or simply cannot do. Bitching about them though is counterproductive. There were a lot of complaints, for example, on social media about how unfair it was to have pull-ups in 17.2* for the scaled workout. “But I do not have pull-ups!” and “This is ostracizing a lot of the CrossFit community” and other sentiments were expressed. If you look at the history of the CrossFit Games, the programming gets increasingly more difficult every year. Take last year’s Games where ring hand-stand push-ups and the peg board were introduced. Many of the most elite competitors struggled with them. It took them further out of their comfort zone which is the point. I strongly believe it is symbolic of how much more evolved CrossFit is getting, and that the standards are constantly being set higher and higher. It demonstrates there are always scales with varying degrees of difficulty to achieve. Never stop at the next progression and never focus on not being where you want to be. If you can only get jumping pull-ups today, that just means you will work harder to get to pull-ups. And once you get pull-ups, you will find yourself one day doing weighted-pull-ups and bar muscle ups. It is about where you go and not where you start.
For the most part, I kept my sanity throughout the Open. Yes, I had moments where I wish I did better (like why the hell was it so hard to lunge with two 35 pound dumbbells? And why am I a snail on the rower? I wanted a HSPU!). What prevailed for me is constantly reminding myself that this last year has been the first year since I started CrossFit that I have not been injured. It is like every prior year of CrossFit for me was practice and full of mistakes, bad form and bad judgment. This is the first time in ages that I consistently have felt healthy and strong. In my recovery, I have focused on solid form, training smartly and progressively gaining strength back (and beyond). So during the open when I had moments of self-doubt or longing to be higher on the leaderboard, I reined them in by telling myself well this is far more than I would have been able to do a year ago. And I am damn happy with that. I cannot worry about how I ranked against other people because as we have established, it is not about that. It is really about me. I want to walk away feeling good about what I accomplished and not beating myself up for what I fell short on.
Do not become one of those people who are ruled by the whiteboard or the Open. It is just 5 weeks and 5 opportunities out of hundreds a year where you will have endless chances to continue to be a bad ass. And to continue to be an even more fierce bad ass than you thought you ever could be. Go into this last week of the Open with an open mind and a mature perspective. Do not worry about what the person next to you is doing. Do not worry about what you cannot do. Focus on what you can and you will leave this crazy experience feeling accomplished.
*To see the 2017 workouts, click here
It’s common that for those of us who CrossFit or lift weights to get caught up in the crazy beast mode side of it that we lose perspective a bit. I’ve seen people (and have been in this scenario myself) where we poo poo a PR or instead of acknowledging what we did well, we focus on what we want to do better. I’m not saying we should not work on what needs improvement but before you get up your own ass about it, stop and take a minute to register your successes and your strengths.
Here are a few reminders to keep your hard work in perspective.
We get pissed that we “only” deadlifted 200 lbs and failed on 210. We get pissed that we are stuck on a 150 lb back squat. We get pissed that we can’t front squat more than our body weight. We forget that most likely, even if we don’t “feel” like we are lifting heavy, we probably are. We get sucked into the CrossFit mentality of always wanting to lift heavier that we forget to take stock and realize that we are throwing around and throwing down heavy weight.
We also tend to benchmark ourselves against other people, but are we benchmarking ourselves against the appropriate people? Are we factoring in the duration that we have been doing CrossFit compared to the person we are comparing ourselves to? Are we factoring in the volume and frequency of how often we workout compared to our benchmarks? Are we comparing ourselves to someone of comparative size? There are plenty of blogs and inspirational posts that say things like “You can’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’ chapter 20.” These are excellent reminders to focus on you. The point of all this is to think about who you pick as your benchmark because if you are not picking the right person, you are bound to be disappointed by your own success. If you have thoughts like “I cleaned 100 lbs in the workout. while Strong Sally was cleaning 120 lbs. I am so weak.” This is bs if say Strong Sally weighs 40 pounds more than you or say Strong Sally has been CrossFitting for 5 years and you have been CrossFitting for 1 year.
I get caught up quite often feeling I “should” be lifting more. I will see someone else lifting heavier and I think damn I wish I could do that. And I can. One day. I have to factor in I am 5 foot tall and weigh less than a lot of people I train with and around. I am not saying weight is an excuse, I am saying though that I may have to work harder and take longer to get to where some of my box mates are. I want a 200 lb back squat. I am slowly working my way there. I got a 9 lb PR the other day at 184 lbs. It’s not 200 but when I did a calculation, I realized that’s 184 lbbs is 55% more than my body weight. That is a shit load of weight for someone of my size to be carrying. That’s impressive and I should (and am) take pride in it. Just because someone else may be back squatting heavier, if I look at it pound for pound, it’s possible my back squat is actually stronger than the next lady. I am not meaning this to sound smug or competitive. What I do mean to say is keep perspective. Don’t let the number of pounds dictate what you define as heavy or strong. Look at what you are lifting in relation to your own weight and size.
Also look at how far you have come. I didn’t walk into CrossFit Day 1 and back squat 184 lbs. If I had journaled in my early days, chances are I was squatting less than 100 lbs…a lot less (and that was 3 years ago). Keep perspective.
Remember too a PR is a PR. Whether it’s 1 pound more or 10 pounds more. This is a journey and each pound is helping us in getting that next pound and the one after that and so on and so on.
Keep on working out. Keep on setting goals. Keep pushing yourself. But never lose perspective.