Perspective is a key ingredient to happiness
Perspective is a pretty big word. Here I write about how to put things in perspective with social media, goals and family.
1) Social Media:
It’s important to put things in perspective when you see how amazing and wonderful life “looks” for someone else. Remember you don’t always see behind the curtains - that “amazing” person could be struggling with personal issues and be using social media as a coping mechanism. Even in real life we don’t always know the full story behind accomplishments and/or hardships of our closest friends and loved ones, so imagine that time ten with social media.
While something looks attainable, circumstances can be drastically different making something much easier or harder for someone to achieve. For example, I’m currently on maternity leave which means I am NOT working. This is what makes my athletic goals manageable this year. If I were to be back at my full time job while raising a baby and toddler, I would go bananas and absolutely struggle both physically and mentally. But that’s me and I know myself well enough to know that I personally couldn’t pursue my current athletic goals while working full time. I would hate for someone to follow my journey thinking that I am balancing it all because I am not! When I’m back at work I will ease up on my competitive athletic pursuits and stay active while only pursuing race distances that I know I can make time for and have fun with:).
2) Race Day:
Personal bests are always nice to have, especially when your training has been spot on and you’ve made huge fitness gains. There is a “but” though coming;) BUT, in my opinion, it’s important to put that pursuit of your personal best in perspective when conditions aren’t optimal.
Even professional athletes take a step back when they see that certain circumstances can cause long term injury, so why do we amateur athletes think we are invincible?
Here’s an example I reflect on quite frequently:
When I did Ironman Mont-Tremblant in 2016, the conditions were pretty brutal. We had torrential downpour for nearly the entire length of the bike, and athletes were encouraged to slow down because of this. While I wasn’t chasing a personal best (it was my first Ironman after all), I was hoping to have a much faster bike time. I was riding comfortably fast for the first 90km of the 180km distance (it was 2 loops) until I saw the aftermath of a horrific bike crash that ended up taking the life of one of the athletes. After seeing this I started sobbing hysterically while continuing to ride (paramedics were already at the scene). For the remainder of the bike leg I continued to cry on and off, thinking about how awful the crash looked as it involved many athletes…knowing that not only had many people’s races come to an end, but perhaps even someone’s life. As a new mom to my 8.5 month old, I right away eased up on my power and just coasted for the remainder of the bike. Conditions were too dangerous for me to race down the steep descents - it just wasn’t worth it for me anymore. I took “racing” out of the equation and just rode, soaking up every second of the event (thanking officials and volunteers, waving to family, friends, strangers along the way, cheering on other riders, taking in the breathtaking view, and so on).
Cycling is one of my absolute favourite sports, and while I would love to always ride outdoors, I know that there is risk tied to it. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop riding outdoors, trust me that will never happen, but it means that I look at things differently as a mother of two now:)
Will I teach my girls to be afraid of the road and to take the easy route? Absolutely not! But I will teach them about perspective and to make their own decisions around what is and isn’t worth risking something for.
My third and final note around perspective has to do with family again, but in a different way.
I’ve shared this before and want to share it again for anyone new tuning in. While I was training at the National Rowing Centre (Canadian Team), my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was one of the hardest decisions to stay at the centre to continue on with my athletic pursuit instead of staying closer to home to be with my mom. Fortunately I have an amazing sister who was able to be there with her through both chemo and radiation. While I am proud to have represented Canada at the World Rowing Championships, I do regret not staying back with my family during this time. I am happy to say that my mother is cancer free so we are so lucky to have many more years ahead to enjoy together!
Because of this experience I now look to my own girls and plan to show them balance between athletic/professional pursuits and family. I don’t know what the perfect balance will be, but I will navigate it with this experience to reference and always encourage the choice to put family first.
I’d love to get your thoughts on perspective and what you have found works for you!
Until next time,