I completed a 1/2 ironman with less than 2 weeks of training. So, I ended up writing a book about it, only to chop it up and sell the parts. The book How to Crush a 1/2 Ironman in Less Than 2 Weeks was a few weeks from completion when I realized, who is going to read that book?!? I went totally overboard with the book- So, I immediately got to working on the next book to cater to every corporate athlete. Title- NO ONE Gets There Alone. It was painful.
In order to complete a 1/2 ironman with less than 2 weeks of training, I needed to develop my “why.” Just like you, I had excuses, but did not choose to use them. I focused on my excuses and turned them into my actual reasons why!
Turn Your Excuses Into Your Reasons
“If we literally did all the things that what we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”- Thomas Edison
All of us have head trash that consists of limiting beliefs that keep us from our true potential. We hold onto old ideas like they actually help us, and we do this because it is more comfortable than exploring our true possibilities and developing new patterns of thinking. It is difficult and uncomfortable to combat the old ideas that we “can’t do something.” It is far easier and less taxing mentally to simply hold onto limiting beliefs.
An old idea could be “there is only one winner, and everyone else is a loser.” It’s a comfortable belief and can be effective, but it comes from a source of scarcity (there’s only one winner, so it’s me vs. everyone) rather than abundance (I’m confident I’ll reach my goals, who can help me and how can I help others?)
If we look for excuses not to do something, we will find them; however, if we search for reasons to do something, we can find those instead.
These excuses and limiting beliefs always involve people, places, or things.
We grasp onto the times that we failed and were embarrassed and allowed those moments to define our identity. We focused on our deficiencies rather than our strengths. Or we compared ourselves to someone else who was better than us.
Most of the negativity is about not being good enough to do something, which allows us to then create excuses for not being good enough.
It’s a vicious negative cycle.
So, we play it safe and avoid taking the necessary risks for success. The reality about life is that we don’t get credit for being safe! The only way to find out what we are capable of is to take a chance, go for it, and just do it. The scary and difficult part about taking chances is it means challenging our old ideals that have kept us safe.
Each of us has a story with experience, strength, and hope. We all have excuses why, and the tough part is to be able to identify these excuses and use them to our advantage. We need to be able to use our limiting beliefs and turn them into our empowering reason, our why.
We will have an excuse or a reason. The excuses exist for a reason; they are there to see who really wants it.
Here are four common excuses, mine included. At the same time, all of my excuses became my reasons why.
Excuse #1: Time
We are either wasting time or investing time. It is the most precious resource!
Time is the number one excuse for not starting. Discipline is the number one excuse for not continuing.
Yes, time is the biggest limiting factor, but it also is an excuse. We all have the same number of hours, if we don’t create the time for ourselves, then we simply do not want it bad enough.
We either make time, or we make an excuse.
Can we examine our actual time commitment? Are we hiding behind our kids schedule, our spouses’, weekend drop-offs, work, or is it that we are just too tired? Do we waste time on netflix ® binges or making sure we watch the big game?
John Grisham would write in the early morning before starting his day job as an attorney in the courtroom. It took him four years to write his first best seller, A Time to Kill.
A friend of mine preparing for a race would get his long run in on the way to and from both of his kids’ weekend soccer games.
It is about making time and getting creative with our lifestyle.
In my life, time was an excuse as well. I’m a business owner, husband, father of two, golfer, and I travel a lot with my athletes and teams, so making the time to train for a ½ Ironman was difficult.
In order to do your best at ½ Ironman or Ironman distances, 6 months to a year of training is ideal. I hadn’t previously signed up for longer races before because training for a ½ Ironman for six months wasn’t appealing. I didn’t want it bad enough.
Now, time was a major factor to prepare because I only had two weeks to train. It could have been a good excuse.
Reason Why #1: Time
Time in my case became an advantage!
If time was an excuse for not doing the race, I realized that I could devote less than 2 weeks to prepare for a ½ Ironman. My focus and life could accommodate this challenge. My first excuse turned into my why.
Excuse #2: Fear
Remember as a kid when coach would tell us that if the baseball hit us, it wouldn’t hurt? LIE! It hurt, and my broken nose can attest to that fact.
Well, I’m not going to lie here either because attempting your goal will hurt. But, that is actually what makes it great as well. If it were easy, then everyone would do it.
If we don’t commit to setting a goal, then we will not fail. Boom; problem solved! However, it also ensures that there is no way we will become who we want to become or crush our goals.
We then create a habit of not committing, or starting something, but never finishing.
My second excuse was fear. It was an unknown if I could finish the race or not get injured. But I was also scared by the commitment it takes for successful races. I’ve accomplished marathons, half-marathons, Masters swimming, and the random road 5k or 10k, here and there.
I’ve also trained with elite athletes and I’ve see those people who simply kill the workouts and crush those types of races. I’ve also worked with professional athletes. The mind-set, the dedication, and the attention to detail are paramount. It takes a lot of sacrifice both individually and family- wise. Having been a part of that culture, I know full well what it takes.
They are all-in!
These professionals are what the pig is to breakfast, while I was more of what the chicken was to breakfast. See, the chicken is invested in breakfast by supplying the eggs, but the pig is fully committed by providing the ham or bacon.
Reason Why #2: Commitment
While I realized the sacrifice and dedication necessary for greatness, my goal was important; finish. Heck, at least the chicken still contributes to breakfast. I know the intricacies about what it takes to compete. I could do this. All I have to do is commit and just keep moving.
Part of the fear exists because we allow an “out.” When we burn the ships, we make the commitment.
Excuse #3: Expectations
Tiger Woods used to say, “ I expect to win the tournament.” Expectations are not confidence, but we confuse the two. Expectations and confidence are just cousins.
We can have confidence in the things we can control, but we hold no control over how we want things to work out.
Expectations are out of our control and often involve other people’s opinions of ourselves. They also turn into tomorrow’s resentments. Continuing to have the highest of expectations means we will struggle when we have to mentally trouble-shoot and reboot.
We basically only control, our effort, our attitude, our confidence, and how well we let of mistakes and re-focus.
While I haven’t been willing to commit the vast amount of time to training for a 1/2 ironman, I also suffer from a disease called “just don’t suck.”
This attitude of “just don’t suck” is actually a cousin to perfectionism. I don’t have to be perfect at things, but I find it unacceptable to not be “good” at everything. It’s the reason why I play chess, ping-pong, golf, poker, run, swim, ski, write books, and can play most any sport.
The obsession drove me to accomplish some okay athletic activities (back in the day), like running a sub 20:00 5k, breaking 1:00 in the 100 Freestyle, bench pressing 300 lbs, completing a marathon in 3:20, making a hole-in-one, and completing a tough mudder.
However, the “don’t suck” disease is also the reason why I have never been the best at any one of these skills. My attention, passion, and intention get drawn toward other endeavors. You can’t be the best at one thing, if you’re trying to be the best at everything.
That’s the disease.
Why #3: Past Performance
How do we know that we can do something? We’ve done “it” before. Our experiences no matter how small must serve as confidence, not build expectations. There is only one expectation for the race, just keep moving.
My past experiences of having raced and competed before have served as reasons why I could finish a ½ Ironman in less than 2 weeks.
My Excuse #4: Age
Every Thanksgiving, as a family, we run in a local 5k and I not only got smoked in my workouts leading up to the race, but I was also passed in the 5k race by a guy who was having knee surgery immediately after the race. This was a guy I went to the gym with and so I knew about his injury.
That sucked. Was I really getting that old?
Also, my body has started to break down on me. I’ve always had back issues since my near death experience of falling off of a cliff. Now, my knee pain has gotten progressively worse and it hurts walking up stairs sometimes. I’m much more sore nowadays.
My age was an excuse for not signing up.
Why #4: Age
We have never been older than today and we will never be any younger than today. None of us are getting any younger.
Before the movie, The Bucket List, was released, I wrote out 100 things I wanted to do before I die. As a former college professor, I would have all of my students perform this goal as well.
Complete a full Ironman was on the list.
Since nothing is guaranteed in life and tomorrow certainly isn’t, I asked myself, “if not now, when?” “If not you, then who?”
My age now became my why, if not now, then when?
Most likely your “½ Ironman” is a different challenge altogether. Maybe it is running a 5k, writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, losing 10 pounds, finishing your Masters degree, or becoming a professional in your field. Whatever your goal is going to be, building mental toughness will be key.Mental toughness will be the deciding factor in our success.
For everyone, these struggles are different.
What is interesting is that we do not need to be mentally tough in order to be comfortable in today’s society. We are already comfortable in our lives, so there is not always an immediate need to push ourselves.
However, we don’t thrive in mediocrity; we survive.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness