I’m still over the moon about completing my first triathlon, and I’ve had a few days to reflect on the entire experience. Thinking back to all of my training throughout the summer and then actually crossing the finish line has taught me a really important life lesson:
Things Don’t Have to be Perfect.
This is actually something I’ve been working on over the past year or so, but my triathlon experience really reinforced it.
I have a really bad habit of putting things off or postponing them if I feel like the circumstances aren’t perfect. My blog is a great example. I wanted to started a nutrition blog for a really long time but I thought it would be more credible once I became a registered dietitian. I literally waited until I passed my RD exam before I launched my site and got on the blogging bandwagon. In hindsight, this thought process was completely ridiculous. It would have been completely awesome to connect with other bloggers, dietitians and RD students before I passed my RD exam, and I don’t think anyone would have viewed my “expertise” any differently.
The idea that things do not have to be perfect to move forward with pursuing your goals was really brought to my attention last year by my friend, Carly. Carly is an amazing female entrepreneur who has worked for a celebrity, started her own photography business, launched a non-traditional wedding magazine (that was picked up by Barnes and Noble) and does a ton of other amazing things that I don’t even know about. We were chatting about how much I wanted to started a YouTube channel but I listed all of the reasons why I couldn’t right then:
- My DSLR doesn’t record videos so I needed to pick out a new camera.
- My laptop’s microphone was awful so I couldn’t use that unless I purchased a new microphone.
- I needed to research ways to set up your YouTube channel to be successful.
- I had to figure out how to upload a little intro video and music into my YouTube channels, and that probably required buying video software.
- I also wanted to record a month’s worth of videos before it launched so I could stay on top of an editorial calendar.
Carly brought me down to earthy and basically said- dude, just started a YouTube channel. Things don’t have to be perfect! She told me to just order a nicer webcam to start with and then do the research for a better camera later. Record a video and publish it. Bam. You’ve got a YouTube channel. This is obviously something I’m still struggling with because my channel is still in the works!
Then she gave me a book called Big Magic and I read it almost immediately. It’s written by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. She chronicles the successes and failures of her career but also discusses that if you wait to pursue your dreams until the circumstances seem perfect then you’re always going to be holding yourself back.
After reading her book, I realize that I try to wait until things are perfect to do a lot of things… plan a vacation, spend time on hobbies, prioritize tasks and work, etc. The week I read that book, I had passed up buying a beautiful lip gloss at Ulta because I could order it from Sephora and get more membership points (except I kept forgetting to order it!). It has been a really life-changing thing to realize this.
So what does this have to do with the triathlon?
I have wanted to do a triathlon since forever. It seemed like the stars were aligning after my knee and foot were completely recovered from their injuries. And then I was in my bike accident.
I got the cast on my arm 2 weeks into my training plan, and at that point was behind on training since day 1 because I had been in so much pain. At my follow-up 2.5 weeks later, I thought I was going to get the cast off and be good to go. So when the ortho PA told me I was going to need to get a new cast put on for another 2 weeks, I decided in my mind right away that I wasn’t going to be able to do the triathlon anymore.
I was fine with treadmill running and the stationary bike, but not being able to get in the pool seemed like a huge setback. This was at the beginning of July and the tri was mid-September. The PA had done several Ironmans and I told her that I was backing out of the tri because I was going to miss out on so much swimming training. We walked through the timeline of my injury, and I would miss 8 of the 13 weeks of swimming training before the race.
She basically told me- look, you’re not going to be as conditioned as you like in the water. But it’s a 500m swim. Unless you think you’re going to completely drown out there, stick with what you’re doing and pick up with swim training when your cast comes off.
Crossing the finish line on Sunday was really one of the happiest feelings I have had in a long, long time. A triathlon is truly a unique experience with the 3 sports + transitions and I’m really proud that I did it, especially considering where I was starting from. I can’t imagine not having experienced that just because I wanted to wait until I could get a faster swimming time. And the best news is that even if I had completely bombed the swim, the end result would have still been the same: crossing the finish line with a big smile on my face. And even if it was completely awful then I could have just tried another triathlon later!
So my friends, please do not hold yourself back in life if you’re waiting for XYZ to happen. If you want to write a book then start writing. If you want to travel the world then book that plane ticket. Start taking the steps to work towards your goals and go after your dreams. The best part of life is that we got lots of 2nd chance, so the worst that can happen is that you will get a do-over if needed.
Do you feel like you wait until things are “perfect” before you move forward with something?
Have you read Big Magic? It was a quick and easy read- definitely recommend it!