Bite Size Tip #4: Bottle Your Joy
I crossed the line absolutely trashed. I had left everything I had out on the time trial course, and felt proud. When my coach approached me past the finish line, she asked me how I felt about my ride. Awesome! I pronounced. I was proud of my pacing, I felt strong overall and didn’t feel like I could have pushed any harder. “I left it all out there.”
Relating to effort is an incredible skill that not everyone has honed in on. We’re so accustomed to thinking about outcomes, whether that’s wattage, time and usually placing. By all means DREAM BIG! But stay focused on your journey.
THIS STORY DOESN’T END HERE
As I cooled down on the trainer by the car, with a glow on my face that was lighting up my space, I noticed the time sheets going up with the results. I finished my cool down and headed over to see the results with a skip in my step. I felt pretty confident I had hit the top 10, something I was aiming for.
WHERE DID THE GLOW GO?
As I walked back over to our team set up, my head was down, and my glow had disappeared. I was deflated. I came 15th. My time was way off the mark. I thought I’d have done much better, based on my ride. At least a top 10. “What’s wrong with me. If that was my best ride and I am only 15th. I trained so hard. I’m just not good enough.” Those thoughts ran rampant like a mouse on a wheel, over and over in my mind.
And just like that, my joy was gone.
Let’s step back a moment to recognize this common scenario where comparison robs us of our joy. In reality, nothing about my ride changed from the time I crossed the line to the moment I read my placing. Where my ride fit among my competitors suddenly seemed to devalue my thoughts of myself and of my performance. I had temporarily thrown my self worth out, because of a result.
I realize that as athletes, we’re a competitive species. Although we have process goals, we also often have an outcome we imagine. But at what cost does that outcome take over the joy of the process. Can we stay more in tune with the process and improve it over time, enjoying the work as we improve?
With some reflection and a lot of time, I eventually started to realize that I had every reason to believe I had done my best ride, because I had. My data even backed up that I had nailed a PR. Now? I needed to keep working to get stronger and faster, whatever that entailed, because I wanted to keep improving. The truth was, I DID love the hard work and the process. I was very lucky to have a coach at the time who continued to reinforce effort and process, even if I hadn’t completely understood just how important keeping this as a main focus was…YET. She always reminded me that the work would pay off but to be patient and kind to myself.
So much time has passed since these racing days, yet I remember these feelings vividly. I wish I had sought more guidance at the time from a sport psychologist to help me though this learning curve about mindset. I happened to discover the book MINDSET by Carol Dweck in 2010, that was beginning of a deeper more permanent shift.
I’m no longer competing now, but this scenario of comparison comes up in all areas in life, including work and of course social media. What I’ve learned most through my experiences as an athlete is this:
THE ANNE BEFORE THE RACE NEVER BECOMES A LESS VALUABLE HUMAN BEING POST RACE, BASED ON HER RESULT.
I can easily replace the word race with many other situations, such as a presentation, publication or course mark.
Maybe you just graduated from your masters, only to see someone else got their PhD. Maybe you just got out for your first jog after having your baby, only to see someone else ran a marathon 2 weeks after having theirs. The scenarios are endless. One never minimizes the other. Your experience is your own. Be proud of yourself.
All too often we have those beautiful moments of pride, accomplishment and true joy about something in our lives and we allow comparison to steal our sunshine. I realize now that this is a choice. That wasn’t always clear to me.
Try to stay with that moment of joy. I see my daughter do it all of the time. She’s so present and her laughter seriously fills a room. A great reminder of how all consuming and wonderful joy can be, when we stop thinking and just be in the moment.
When joy fills you with light, share that with others who you know will enjoy sharing your proud moments. You work hard for your accomplishments and to reach milestones. Be proud of the process and the commitment you’ve invested in. We can be enough while striving to be better.
All of this mindset work for me is often 3 steps forward 1 step back. But as time passes I’m learning more and more how to hold onto and BOTTLE MY JOY.
Below is the link to the book MINDSET. Mine is highlighted 20x over. Highly recommend it. https://books.google.ca/books/about/Mindset.html?id=fdjqz0TPL2wC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false