In his article, “You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self,” author Peter Bregman described how a coaching client of his, who was frustrated with where his career was at the moment, always focused on the challenges he was presently faced with.
The thought struck me, “Of course this man is focused on the challenge right in front of him. He’s familiar with it. The future, however, is a complete unknown filled with endless possibilities and uncertain outcomes.”
Be Okay with Being Uncomfortable
Remember when you were a kid and you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? Remember the excitment you felt? You couldn’t wait to grow up, get out of school and go be an astronaut, a veterinarian, a billionaire, an inventor, a cop, or a fairy princess with unicorns and elves as friends.
Then something happened along the way. Uncertainty seeped into your mind. Disillusionment fogged up those rose-colored dream glasses. You seemed to fall short time and again on tests, social interactions, or on the job. Then black-hearted fear came along, empowered by doubt, disappointment, and derision from others.
But how can we truly expect to achieve any worthwhile goal if we give up? It’s okay to let go of those we’ve outgrown (like that whole fairy princess thing). But when that goal is actually a heart-felt dream, living deep within your being, it’s must come to life, no matter how many disappointments, shortcomings, and zigzags life throws at you.
Let’s apply that to health and fitness — YOURS!
Who do you envision to be in a month, a year or five years from now? What *specifically* does your vision look like — fitness-wise, health-wise or other-wise? The more clearly you can see what that goal, the more you can develop plans and acquire the tools need to make it real.
Some of my goals include:
- Shaving 10 minutes off my best 5K time via power walking
- Shedding at least 10 pounds of fat
- Becoming physically stronger, and developing more muscle definition
- Being at ease and professional in video
Yes, I admit it. I’ve struggled for years to shed that weight, and to spend time in front of a camera. I can “suck it up, buttercup” and try again. I know I’ll have to notch up my speed during my power walking workouts; change up my eating habits, and reduce portion sizes; do strength training two or three times a week; and push the record button on the video camera more often.
To help me on my way, I’ll have to…
Stop Being Busy, and Get to Business
Being busy is not the same as being productive. It’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running to a destination. They’re both running, but being busy is running in place.”by Peter Bregman
A typical day of mine could look like this:
Pay the bills. Get the kitchen cleaned up. Fix breakfast. Order groceries online. Read online news reports about the latest crisis. Pick up the mail at post office hours before it opens. Make a smoothie for lunch. Scroll through and respond to posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter. Remember to do the same on that thing called Instagram. Answer emails. Write emails. Cook dinner. Work with the husband on remodeling projects. Conduct research for future blog posts. Check status of state senior games. Read more news articles and watch video clips covering the latest crisis.
I tend to put my to-do list ahead of my training plans. I feel satisfied, even happy, when I can check off things off a list.
Does your life include chasing the dog, entertaining the kids, coordinating care for an elderly family member, getting cats and kids out of trees, filing for unemployment, searching for a new job, reading about the latest crisis, re-arranging the furniture yet again, thinking of starting a new business or side hussle, online shopping for a new appliance, wondering about what happened to last week’s crisis while reading tweets about this week’s calamity, dreaming of a new sleek bicycle, wondering if you should wear a face mask while riding that new bicycle, or doing yet another load of laundy.
And I bet you have’t checked off even one item on your achieve-goal list. Me, neither.
And so it goes, around and around and around, until we’re so tired, frustrated, and dilusioned that we simply give up and flop on the couch, flip on the TV, and chow down on a bag of potato chips.
Practice, Practice and Practice Some More
I’ve read time and again that to become the person I want to be, I have to practice being that person now. That’s really hard because I don’t know what it feels like to be a slow runner or fast walker. I don’t remember what it feels like to be forty-plus pounds lighter (much less ten pounds less). And I certainly don’t know what it feels like to be comfortable, personable, professional, and unflappable on camera like the late Gwen Ifill or former Las Vegas broadcaster Paula Francis.
But to get to that place where I feel like I have achieved those goals, I have to get uncomfortable by practicing; be irresponsible by placing my practice ahead of daily tasks; and tune out my inner critic as I stammer-yammer in front a video camera.
To steal Nike’s slogan: Just. Do. It. Before we know it, we will soon meet that future self!
Today’s inspiration from “You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self” by Peter Bregman. Published by Harvard Business Review, March 28, 2016, https://hbr.org/2016/03/you-need-to-practice-being-your-future-self