Humans are particularly self deceptive creatures, we tell ourselves noble little lies to distract ourselves from what we really need to hear. I recently told myself that I should complete a Half Ironman (or 70.3). I had completed a triathlon the month before so it didn’t seem like an impossibility to double things up and do it again.
Spinning along at my 1st regular distance Triathlon – the Mighty Montauk:
Plus I had been inspired watching my crazy bro-in-law kick ass in a proper Ironman in Lake Placid just a few weeks later. He loved it so much he was training for Ironman Japan and dying to convert me.
5000 crazy Ironmen prepare to dive off into a lightening infested lake:
But deep down I knew that if I signed up for this thing it would be a decoy, a diversion from spending time on other goals that didn’t have such a clear cut 13 week training program.
I paused, I listened to myself, I contemplated.
I suspected that I was signing up for the Half for the wrong reasons and that I should be using those 2-3 hrs a day that I would need to dedicate to training to other personal goals that I’ve been putting off for years and months. We all have the same 24hrs in a day and realistically if I was swimming, biking and running I wouldn’t have another 3 hours of spare time to let’s say, write a blog. But its an internal battle that your inner voices have to fight out and you have to tune it to which voice to listen to.
My internal battle went like this:
‘Do the Ironman – it will make you fit and strong and people will think you’re cool’.
‘But why do you really want to do the Ironman, you know if you do you won’t have the mental or physical space for anything else.’
Stop being lazy and trying to get out of it. You know if you don’t sign up you’ll just do nothing.
No I won’t, I’ll work on my other goals…but I also want to stay fit…
and I’ve told people I’m doing it. They’ll think I’m quitting.
You should be focused on what YOU want, not what other people think.
But what do I really want?
And this last question, what do I really want, is where my two inner voices blurred into one true self. What did I really want? I wanted to be fit and healthy, yes, but I was also sick of hearing myself talk about some of my other goals and do nothing about them. And I say goals because there were and are multiple. And therein lies another challenge, if you are semi-dedicated to a range of things you are not committed to any one thing and will end up not doing any of them.
So I made a hard decision. I listed to my internal dialogue and then I said NO to the half iron man. I also told myself I had to commit to something else. Pick another goal and go after it as though I had a race to compete in two months time. This is harder for goals that do not have a tangible deadline and involve just you. I needed help just setting the goal and being held accountable to it. And for this I found Greg Hickman, a very cool dude who does lots of web and mobile related things successfully, as well as offers group coaching or ‘mastermind’ sessions. I now have an ‘accountabilabuddy’, someone I share my goals with and who keeps me in check on a weekly basis and vice versa. I feel like I have a clear daily training program and a finish line for a non sporty goal.
I feel happy that I’m actively pursuing an un-clear cut personal goal and really happy that I auto-listened long enough to hear that I was misleading myself with a physically challenging but ultimately easily reachable alternate goal.
We hear a lot said about the importance of learning to say no to others but not enough about saying no to ourselves. This is the hardest denial of all, but without a doubt the most satisfying.
Try it for yourself. What decoys are you putting pressure on yourself to achieve?