We all know what it takes to be great at something. You practice. You set up a regimen for yourself; you execute it, and you hopefully get better. When prepping for a meet; you set up a program, you hone in on your diet to make sure you make weight, and you train X amount of days every week with X sets and X reps with whatever macros or calories you have left to then hopefully go 9-4-9 with some new PRs in your pocket.
Any athlete, working adult or driven human being knows that having a plan is vital in achieving success. You plan; you put in the work, and hopefully conquer what ever goal you’re shooting for.
But, in the midst of our carefully constructed programs and focused minds, we have one of the biggest obstacles hovering over us at every waking moment: life.
You could be getting through everything perfectly for weeks, or even months, and suddenly be thrown a curve ball at any moment. You could get sick, you could get injured, a relative could randomly come into town, finals could creep up on you… I could go on and on.
And with these spontaneous spins on our schedules, it’s generally followed with a tweak in our programming/plan to success. We could be forced to miss a workout, adjust what we’re doing on that day, or we may just be too short on time to even finish out the week.
Now doesn’t that sound like nails on a chalkboard? Yes, both in the moment and reading it back to ourselves, having to deviate from the master plan sounds like torture. If you’re at all motivated in any way in any profession, seeing a bump in the road that messes up the plan can make you feel that
- You have failed yourself.
- You won’t reach your goal. Sometimes, in the extreme cases, you’ll even doubt your level of dedication.
Having to miss that second day of squatting may make you think you’ll never progress passed your last PR, having to step away from deadlifts because your hips are so messed up may make you think you’ll never get over that 300lb hump, and feeling your bench slow down in the lockout rather than fly like previous weeks may derail your dreams of repping the big-girl plates.
Getting off track can send you on a slippery slope of self-doubt and demotivating thoughts, and it’s those mind games that can momentarily (or sometimes permanently) destroy your entire process. As much as we like to deny our desire for perfection, we have a really hard time dealing with things not going so smoothly. We get stuck in a tunnel vision-like slump and are only able to see our “failures” cloud over that light at the end of the tunnel (aka our goal/new PR/ 9-4-9 happy dance). We don’t allow ourselves to look at these situations realistically, and therefore end up beating ourselves up for, essentially, being human.
Change your mindset
So, here is something that I want to remind you if this feels at all relevant to you: life is going to happen, and it’s 100% okay.
Training isn’t always going to go as planned. You aren’t always going to make every single workout for the week, and weight isn’t always going to fly up as it did the previous day. You will miss days; you will sometimes feel weak when you think you should feel strong. Why? Because no program can eliminate the random elements that life has to offer. You still need to practice discipline and time management, that is a given, but when you accidentally strain your wrist while rock climbing or get bombarded with errands to run, time off and modifications may become mandatory. Sometimes events such as concerts or beautiful days at the beach may call for time away from the barbell. Life can suck at times, but it can also be great and taking advantage of that is totally okay too.
We cannot get so bogged down in our occasional inability to follow everything to a T. In fact, we should commend ourselves for feeling such a passion for what we’re training for, let the day pass by as just another day, and continue on our path with that same passion pushing us even further to become better. There are no last chances, final destinations, or determining moments that will never come again. There is always another day, another competition, another training philosophy to follow, and another platform to step onto.
Life and inconvenience is beautiful
In the end, we need to remember this: life is going to happen and kick us off track, the gym will always be there for us to return to in full force, and any goal we’ve set for ourselves can still be achieved as long as we stay patient and consistent. We can’t get too focused on making sure everything goes perfectly at all times, because it won’t, and that’s not a sustainable goal.
Enjoy the training process, enjoy once-in-a-lifetime moments, accept that you will eventually have to deal with bubbles in the system, and remember that in the end: you’re doing this for you and your happiness. If you REALLY love what you’re doing, you’re not going to let one day off or one strained muscle dictate how you feel about yourself or your progress.