start with Values:
Think about what your values are in general and consider how they cross over into triathlon. Use this list for guidance and then write down your top 2-3 values.
If you did this at the beginning of the year, check in with the values you wrote down to see how your life has unfolded in alignment with them. Do you need to make changes either in your behavior, your decision-making processes, or in your values themselves?
Naming our values will help us make more efficient, aligned decisions. We’ll stop wasting time thinking about what we should or shouldn’t do, and instead, simply ask, “Does the decision I’m making right now align with my values?”
Throughout the year, tune into your body after you’ve made a decision that aligns with your values. Look for the ease. This will help you learn how to be validated internally, rather than relying on external sources. It will feel different.
The Body Test: Something I do often when trying to make a difficult decision is what I call the body test. I close my eyes and imagine that I’ve picked 1 of the options. I see what my life looks like after that particular decision has been made, and I feel it in my body. If it’s out of alignment, my body will feel tight or constricted, my shoulders usually tense up, or I’ll feel some anxiety. I make sure I locate where the anxiety is in my body. Then once I’ve run through one option and given myself a minute or 2 to sit with it, I’ll go into the next one. If it’s aligned, I feel lighter, I take deeper breaths, and my shoulders drop. Look for your own cues.
Additionally, you can use this resource from Brene Brown to learn how to take your values “From BS to Behavior”.
ask yourself questions
If your season is unfolding according to plan, great! Keep going.
If something feels off and you can’t quite figure out what to do next, asking yourself questions can be an entry point to decoding the mystery. In order to understand who and where we want to be, we have to understand who and where we currently are.
This is not a mental exercise. This is a written exercise. You activate a different part of your brain when you write, and you may be surprised to find yourself writing down answers that you didn’t know before you started writing them. The key is to go with whatever first comes to mind. Don’t overthink it.
Simple questions are the best kind. My favorite example of this process is Marie Condo – the woman who helps people declutter their homes by asking the simple question, “does this spark joy?” Here are some examples of questions:
How do I feel?
When do I get defensive?
How am I standing in my own way?
What brings me joy?
What brings me peace?
Who or what do I need to be validated by? (Another way to ask this is: What would I do if I knew no one would judge me?)
What are the repetitive cycles in my life? How am I contributing to them?
How do I define success?
What do I love most about myself?
What about my life makes me the most proud of myself?
When do I feel the most alive/present?
What truth have I been hiding from?
If you’ve allowed yourself to be honest through this process, you probably already know what to do next. If you’re still stuck, the next best course of action is to shift out of the state of mind that you’re currently stuck in. Refer to that Einstein quote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I don’t know you but I know that you could use some deep calming breaths, and some play time. When was the last time you did something that felt like play? Being in a state of play is the same as being in a flow state, which is where we are at our most creative.
Review Your Goals
Whether you’ve already achieved a season goal, fallen short of one, or are still working towards a particular destination, now is a good time to make sure your goals still light you up.
If you still feel as passionately as you did when you originally set the goal, recommit to the process. Don’t rely on motivation to get the work done. Motivation is fickle. Build a sustainable, grounded practice of showing up every day. I’ll refer to the Notorious RBG on this one: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
If you’ve gone through the process above, starting with values and asking yourself questions, and you’re still unsure about pursuing particular goals, try following a curiosity instead of a destination. Sometimes leaving our goals open-ended can open us up to a world of possibilities we could not have imagined at the time of conception. What if you could approach your training and racing in a completely different way? What if you could introduce more grace and spaciousness into your routine? Is there a part of your personality that you haven’t tapped into yet?
Remember, changing course is not a failure or a reflection of misguided goal setting. It’s a response that arises because we are paying attention.