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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Traitorous Doubt

Part of the routine at my CrossFit gym is to record your performance after every workout. Whether the goal is a high number of reps or a speedy time, when it is all said and done there is a large whiteboard waiting for you to record the fruits of your labor. There are days where the march to the whiteboard is triumphant and others when it is merely rote. I have also noticed lately that, for me, there are days when I leave no trace of my WOD on the board. This doesn't occur when I don't use the recommended weight or fail to finish the workout. There are a great many reasons for a less than stellar performance at the gym. Sometimes I am exhausted from a lack of sleep, other days I did not stretch properly and I am very tight from previous exercise, and many of the workouts are simply beyond my current level. None of those reasons leave me with a sense of dry erase dread. That anxiety comes only when I've let myself become frustrated with a movement or challenge and let doubt creep in and leave me frozen. I waste time and energy on the mental process of overcoming those doubts and lose seconds and even minutes of possible victories. I won't say that those doubts defeat me, because defeat seems so final. They do, however, prevent me from reaching my full potential in every moment. And after waging a war in my head against my own lack of faith in myself, my desire to record my results for all to see is gone.

Upon further reflection on this whiteboard fear, I found that this isn't merely a fitness phenomenon. When I allow myself the luxury of dreams I often find enough to doubt that I prevent myself from even speaking about them, much less attempting to reach them. While my doubts can inhibit my progress during a workout, they can completely derail a dream before it even leaves my head. This can manifest itself in small ways, like skipping an opportunity for a new project at work, and large ways, such as ruining a long term dream to travel. I have always examined this emotion and packaged it as a sort of healthy fail-safe to prevent me from investing physically and emotionally in something that runs a large risk of failure. What I had not realized, or at least not accepted, is that everything runs a large risk of failure. As Aristotle said, "It is possible to fail in many ways, while to succeed is possible only in one way." While many arguments could be made about degrees of success and even redefining success, I still believe this statement to be true in many ways. The possibility of failure should not be reason enough to prevent action.

Our doubts are traitors, 
And make us lose the good we oft might win 
By fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

My goal for the next week is to record every result regardless of my mental state at the end of the workout. I hope this will serve both to encourage me to work through the mental roadblocks more quickly and conquer more during each workout and also to force me to celebrate my attempts, even when they are not perfect. Whatever numbers might be recorded, I was capable of trying and that is enough to earn a spot on the whiteboard. I also hope this will inspire me to skip the cynicism and really open myself up to attempting more in my day to day life.

Whatever comes, I have the luxury of dreams and that alone deserves daily celebration and gratitude.

Still livin' the good life,

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