Social media is at it again today with rather dichotomous messages – either the notion that making New Years resolutions sets you up for life failure or that you can indeed change all of your bad habits within days and make fiddy million dollars in the process. Naturally, I’m illustrating the extremes that I have seen on my Facebook feed today. However, I’m going to run with the idea that stopping to evaluate what you’re doing and where you’re going and whether the two paths are aligning nicely is worth the effort.
I’ve been on a life evaluation path for a few months now. I had been thinking of applying to do a post graduate physiotherapy qualification at university. However, life seemed to have other plans. I developed a severe case of wrist tenosynovitis of the extensor digitorum complex (top of forearm) which is rare and quite difficult to treat conservatively, particularly if it is the person’s dominant hand, which mine is. This injury has been a tad devastating to me as it’s stopped me from lifting weights, preparing meals and doing the simplest tasks where gripping is required. When I combined this with the hamstring injury, I had started to wonder whether pursuing a career in a field that wasn’t as physically demanding was the way to go.
Enter my friend Mel, who amongst other talents, has made business coaching and career counselling part of her very successful business. Through doing some personality testing and career aptitude/preference testing, Mel was able to narrow down my feelings of “I want to change, but don’t know what to do,” down to pinpointing some very specific talents and preferences. Finally, there was a breakthrough – I knew what I didn’t want to do, but the best part was finding things I could do and enjoy.
I mulled over the testing for a few months. My strengths are in writing, coaching and communication.
“Lots of people are good at writing and communication,” I thought. “I’ll never get a job.”
I discussed the prospect of further study with Mr Lucy, who told me to go for it and that he’d back me all the way, reassuring me that there is always something for those who are good at what they do. I slept well that night and in the morning, nervously applied to study a Grad Dip in Arts, majoring in journalism and mass communication. All things being well and provided I got my QTAC application in on time, I’ll be starting in March 2016. If not, it will be July 2016.
Back to Mel – we have been riding together for the last two years or so. Mel’s strength on the bike lies in individual efforts and she is able push herself to the wire during an effort or a race. She has also been riding track bikes for years and when she decided to set the goal of competing at the World Masters Track Titles in Manchester in the Individual Pursuit this year, I became really invested in her journey. From the get go, Mel was disciplined in what she wanted to achieve, what races she wanted to target along the way and how she would fit her training in amongst her other commitments. From the outside, her preparation looked like a textbook presentation of the S.M.A.R.T model of goal setting – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time sensitive. However this model does not reflect the grit, discipline and determination it took to get there – getting up early to train before work, dealing with the rest of life, as well as dealing with muscular fatigue that were all part and parcel of Mel’s program. It was tough, both physically and mentally for Mel as she wrestled with both fatigue and self doubt. When she left for Manchester, I took it upon myself to check for event updates every few waking hours. What a thrill it was to hear the news that Mel had won two bronze medals in her events – and although each race is only a few minutes long, these moments had been no accident, rather it had been the cumulation of a year of commitment, discipline and hard work – inspirational in my book!
Although Mel’s achievement of winning bronze medals moved me, the everyday effort is what inspired me the most and served as a wonderful reminder that good things don’t come easy and that most successes are not overnight, rather they are roads paved with determination, discipline and endurance to see out the tough times. I’m no psychologist, but I believe humans are happiest when they are industrious, are busy and have a focus.
Like good aspiring journalists do, my plan for 2016 is to get to the heart of the matter, to deal with the big issues that have been plaguing me in an accurate, timely and non subjective manner. I’ve got career change at the forefront, followed closely by the goal of dealing with the weight I have gained as a result of my accident. There was no accident in how my fat accumulation occurred and I want to write about the process getting back to my normal, firstly as self therapy and secondly to help others who may also may be in the same boat – i.e. it’s never just about the food. Thirdly I am chasing the goal of returning to racing my bike, running 10km pain free and completing some triathlons. I wrote in my last post about the mind being the most powerful instrument we own. I suspect that by working hard on the first two goals, numbers three and four will fall into place effortlessly.
In terms of these goals being specific and measurable, I’m surrounding myself with people whose influence will help me to stay focused, and acquiesce to the fact that it’s not always going to be easy and that I will make mistakes along the way, which will only be lessons if I work hard, maintain discipline and stay the course. I have the structure of university to help with number one and in the weight loss department I’ll be using the guidance of Georgie Fear online and Apple to Zucchini dietitians locally. I will be teaming up with Mel to train when our programs match and using the UQ swim squad and triathlon club as well as the wonderful Liz Hepple to get me back to my best on the bike, swim and run.
With a solid plan in place, I’m looking forward to a happy and productive 2016 and if you’re still reading this, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.