We choose to go…not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard, because that goal will serve to measure and organize the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I have been saying that I want to be healthier and get in shape for years and to date I have started about 100 different programs with essentially the same results every time…none! Sound familiar? I don’t mean to imply that there was anything wrong with any of the programs that didn’t work for me. I am sure they have all helped others. They didn’t work for me because I didn’t actually finish them. I realized that, absent some catastrophic health event, I wasn’t going to do anything unless I could find a challenge that would mobilize me to action.
About a month ago I saw an ad on the side of my Facebook page for Tough Mudder (www.toughmudder.com) and I thought it looked interesting. I clicked on the video and it was indeed interesting and completely unimaginable at the same time; ten to twelve miles of muddy track with twenty to twenty-five military style ridiculously hard obstacles thrown in just to make it unthinkable for mere humans like myself. I watched the video a second time and I realized that what I really wanted was to be in the type of condition it would take to be able to complete something like this but, short of being able to buy a pill that would make that happen, it didn’t seem likely.
Did I mention that I have uncontrolled diabetes and just turned 54? And Tough Mudder is 100 times harder than any of the programs I haven’t completed to date, so it is completely unthinkable that I could even attempt such a thing…so what did I do?…same thing I have always done, clicked on something else interesting.
The next day, I decided to throw it up on my Facebook page to see if any of my friends would be interested or even consider something like this and of course, in a matter of hours I had a bunch of people committed to do it!
It has been amazing to observe the difference in my approach to this seemingly impossible challenge that I have backed into, almost by accident. Once I realized that I really wanted to do this and realized that others would support me, something changed in the way I approached changing my health and my workouts.
I have not struggled to get up and have not struggled to make a real effort during the workouts. It has changed my eating habits, the way I hydrate myself and how I manage my diabetes. Everything that I have traditionally struggled with now seems important to the realization of the challenge and so, it has to change.
What is the difference between all the previous attempts to change and this one? All the previous attempts were done because I knew I wasn’t happy with the way things were, but that wasn’t significant enough to drive me to change behaviors that have become habits over the years. The challenge to do something that most would say is out of my reach has been a tremendous catalyst for change in my life. I can feel the difference this time, despite all the skeptics. I know that I am on my way and I’m not going to allow anything to prevent me from completing this challenge. In my mind, it is already done! All that remains is to confirm it physically so everyone can see it.
The event is still some five months away and I know many of you reading this will think that this will become another failed attempt to get healthier and get in shape, especially given my history of just that. I can assure you that this is different and let me explain why I think it is different.
It is an audacious challenge.
It’s not just a little bit of a stretch for me; it is almost unthinkable that I will be able to achieve this goal in the time between now and the event. It’s not impossible, but it not reasonable to most thinking adults that I would be able to pull this off. I believe because the challenge is so difficult it creates a situation where I must give my best effort or I know I will fail and so it has changed the way I think about getting ready for it.
The challenge is public.
I have told everyone who will listen that I am going to do this and now that includes you. This creates an internal stress for those of us motivated not to be publically humiliated, but it also creates a tremendous support system as well. I have said repeatedly that I want to get in shape but never put enough definition around that for others to judge what I meant. This is a specific event that will be easily measurable by everyone, thus creating an incredible motivation to be successful. Second, everyone who I have talked to about this has been very supportive and has asked me how they can help. I have asked for their support in holding me accountable and now I have fifty amateur coaches checking in on my progress throughout the week. Each friendly inquiry drives my new habits deeper into my lifestyle and helps me to replace old bad habits with new healthier ones.
It’s a team challenge.
The quote above called upon a nation to be the first to put a man on the moon, but it also called upon a nation not to let “them” get there before us. This event is not a race, but we will go through the event as a team. I don’t want to be the weak link on our team, I am too competitive. I don’t want to be the person holding everyone else up as we progress. I don’t want to let the team down and so now my personal progress is more than personal; it’s part of the team progress and I don’t want to let my team down!
My advice to those of you who have been struggling with something that you have wanted to do and failed to complete over the years:
Set an audacious goal, tell everybody who will listen what it is and create a team environment to accomplish it…you may just find yourself standing on the moon and looking back at the earth thinking, “…wonder how hard it would be to get to Mars???”
Stay tuned, I will update my progress as we get closer and you can bet I will publish the completion of the event!