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This Left Me Swearing

I’m shoveling out my front door. Each load of snow thrown over my shoulder sends fire shooting down my left hip and leaves me swearing at whoever is opening up my back with a hot razor.

I’ve been getting ready for a cross-country ski trip across the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. I love this plan. Mount Susitna in front of me, Denali to my right, a turn up the Yentna River to the big bend with a finish at Eagle Song Lodge, a cool fly-in only peony farm.

I have been doing well at pacing my workouts this winter. Then one day I wake up and decide I’ll ski the 50-mile solo trek six weeks early. I thought I’d just slap on the miles like I always had. It's not that far, right?

I went out for a shakeout ski in Talkeetna to confirm I was ready and I crawled the last mile home, my ego torn to shreds. To add to my triumph, I am ignoring the pain and shoveling out my front door.

I am facing a heavy reality.

How I’ve been training for the last 40 years is now running me into a brick wall. I try every way I can think of to run around or through this wall, but it is not going anywhere. I can’t ignore my pain this time and “power through.”

When I’m honest, the truth has been there for a while, years even. Get in shape nice and slow and then stay in shape. It isn’t a mystery. I think I’ve even seen an article or two on this topic.

But I don’t like that truth, so I ignore it. I lie to myself and imagine that the rules of mere mortals don’t apply to me.

And I’ll let you in on one of my personal secret weapons.

The fastest way to find out what is holding me back in my career, my relationships and everything else in my life is to go outside and do something physical.

Because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Do you want to know why you are hitting a wall at work? Are you stuck and you don’t know where to start? Pay attention to your habits when you go for a hike, a walk or when you mow the lawn.

Roll the tape back to my trip. What held me back?

You got it. I tried to jump to the end without the daily ("boring") preparation. To make matters worse, I ignored all the signs of pain and tried to “man up” without fixing the problem.

I tend to get bored and impatient with slow and steady workout plans. My brain says, “Screw this! Slow and steady is for pansies. I want results now!”

My “I want it now” result? I’m back on the slow and steady program, a good eight weeks behind where I started.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

When I look back at my other great ideas that haven’t gone as I planned, I see this pattern over and over.

I challenge you to notice how you do what you do this week.

Do you push too far too fast? Do you quit at the first sign of boredom? Do you tell yourself you suck or it’s too hard? Are you a ball of fire in the beginning but don’t ever finish?

The goal here isn’t to berate yourself. You're allowed to be who you are. Just be curious for now. “Hmm, I’m continuing to run this race even though my foot is raw to the bone and bleeding into my shoe. That’s fascinating.”

Where else does this show up for you?

The knowledge you'll gain will reveal hidden barriers keeping you from a career that makes your chest burst with pride.

You have what it takes right now to make steps toward improving your satisfaction with your career.

Now go outside and see what's stopping you.

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