A few years ago I rode in the ‘MS 150’, a 150-mile bike ride benefitting the National MS Society.
I wanted to try a new challenge.
I am not a cyclist and it had been maybe since the seventh grade since I was on a bike. But I fundraised, trained for a few months and went for it (with the blissful ignorance of a newbie).
Day 1 was about an 80-mile ride. It was simply amazing. The energy of the people both in the ride and volunteering on the sidelines was unparalleled. I had never been to an event like that and was humbled to know that they were all there to support people like me with MS.
The first day was hard. But I had a good strategy to get me through it. I only thought about the next 10 miles or so until the next pit stop. That was it.
I went from stop to stop, resting, refueling and getting back on the road again.
I did that all the way to the end of the first day. It wasn’t pretty and I certainly was behind the pack the entire day. But I rode the whole course and was so proud of myself.
As I sat there in my team’s tent at the end of Day 1, I thought about the day. How huge my accomplishment was. How everyone on that course had to dig deep mentally and physically to finish. I was a little dazed, but I know I had a permanent grin on my face.
Then I started to think about the next day.
The accomplishment of Day 1 quickly diminished. My smile faded to a jaw drop as I thought about the next 80 miles. (Although it worked for the event name, the bike ride was technically more than 150 miles. And at that point, an extra 10 miles may as well have been an extra 100. )
Best advice ever.
I turned to a teammate of mine, a look of panic on my face.
“How am I going to do this again in the morning?!”
I no longer had the blissful ignorance of Day 1. I knew exactly what I was getting into. Plus I now hurt in places I didn’t know I had.
She looked at me with the knowing smile of a veteran rider.
“Don’t think about tomorrow.” She said. “Think about getting some food, an aspirin and a good nights sleep. You can think about tomorrow in the morning.”
That was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.
I went to eat with my husband and got a good night sleep (with some pain pills).
When I woke up, I was in a completely different place.
Hurting, yes. Knowing how hard it was going to be, yes.
But completely recharged and ready for what the day brought.
And with that I finished Day 2.
Don’t think about tomorrow.
Simple, yet genius.
At the end of Day 1, I was mentally and physically toast. I was taking that mindset and projecting it on the next day as I thought about it. I was completely discounting what a hot shower and good night’s sleep can do.
When we look at the road ahead of us, we tend to take how we feel now, and project it onto what we will feel a day from now, a week from now or years from now.
We shortchange ourselves. We create overwhelm where it doesn’t belong. We discount the clarity and energy that will be there tomorrow. We discount the learning curve and how things will often get easier as you practice.
Most importantly we discount the work we just did as being insignificant relative to the long road ahead.
And nothing kills motivation faster than that.
We get into this trap when we look at a big project, or a lifestyle change in order to lose weight. The term ‘for life’ makes us think about 10,000 tomorrows, all with the spent energy and doubt from today.
It especially happens when we start something new, like working out.
Getting into it is tough. Muscles hurt, expectations are skewed.
When we think about doing it for the rest of our lives, we get scared.
Enter overwhelm. Enter exhaustion. Enter that jaw-drop feeling of “how am I going to do this for the rest of my life?”
My best advice to you; don’t think about it. Even if it is something you will do for the rest of your life, all you need to think about is today.
Think about tomorrow, tomorrow.
After your workout today, give yourself a high five for your accomplishment. Smile and just think about a hot shower and good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Learn more about this and other strategies designed to get you motivated to work out.
Check out my new FREE class “Get Moving!”
Learn the 5 key elements that can keep you motivated and enjoying your workouts.
(And 3 of them don’t require you to leave the couch!)
I’d love to hear from you!
What is your strategy for a long road ahead?
What are your frustrations?
Let me know in the comments below.
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