In the world of sport there are a lot of excuses
Sometimes they are legit, most of the time not so much. Of the not so much, there is one that really annoys me and that is when people complain about not having enough time. We are the sum of our choices and if you don't have enough time to do something, then that is the result of the choices you have made.
I find people confuse being busy and being productive to be synonymous. If you're busier than someone else you must be accomplishing more, right? Not always. In my experience, it is always the people who always complain about being so busy that are the least productive.
Are you familiar with Parkinson's Law? It states that...
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
What does this mean? It means if we have a project or assignment that needs to be done at the end of the week, we will by nature, use that whole week to worry/work/stress about that project. If we set the deadline for that project to be 6 hours from now instead, then we would get it done in 6 hours and most likely have close to the same result if not the same result (80/20 rule). This happened to me all the time in school. If I knew all term that I had a paper to work on then I was always stressed about it but if I was assigned that same paper with a weekend to do it I would bust it out and still have the same quality paper.
In the words of Michael Scott from The Office:
Jim Halpert. Pros: Smart, cool, good-looking. Remind you of anybody you know? Cons: Not a hard worker. I can spend all day on a project, and he will finish the same project in half an hour. So that should tell you something.
That quote has stuck with me since my first go through of The Office. Yes, I've watched all 8 seasons more than once. It's so accurate into what we think as a society. All of our school, education, and a lot of jobs are focused on being busy rather than productive. It seems it's more respected to get a "real job" after college and put in 40-80hrs a week of monotonous tasks rather than doing what you want to do. I don't want my work to feel like I have to put time in to then enjoy my life outside of it. I want to enjoy all of it, including my work. I would think people are much more likely to innovate and create amazing things when they are doing something that doesn't feel like "work."
Jake, what does this rant have to do with triathlon?
I hear the excuse of not having enough time come up all the time with people talking about getting in shape or wanting to be faster. This kills me every time. "Well, if I had time to workout I'd be in shape." No one is so busy that they can't be physically fit and healthy, I can guarantee you that. There is always someone out there busier than you are that is getting the work in. Time is just being used as an excuse. If there's some impossible way that you truly don't have time to be fit, I would urge you to reconsider your priorities and figure out what is really important in life.
I've heard the same type of mindset in triathlon with age groupers talking about pros. Something like... "If I had time to workout all day then I'd be a pro too." Not with that mindset you wouldn't. Those people who get to "workout all day" just made choices to prioritize their life differently and made their racing a top priority. When it comes down to it, you have to choose the order of important things in your life and the ones at the top of the list are going to become the things you become the best at.
If triathlon moves up toward the top of that list, I can guarantee you will become faster. The defining moment of something moving up the priority list is when it clashes with something else and you are forced to make a choice. Your friends are hitting happy hour but you have a run after work, what do you do? Neither option is bad, it just depends on what you want to put your time into. If you really want to reach your triathlon potential, it is going to take making some decisions to choose your training over other other things.
The reason I've been able to improve my swimming a lot in a short amount of time is because I prioritize it over everything. Unfortunately, swimmers have this horrible thing where they wake up at ridiculous hours so I've had to conform in order to swim with them. This means that I'm not out on Friday night because we have swim early on Saturday, although occasionally I go out anyway and suffer the consequences at swim, but I never miss it!
Choosing a workout over something else should never feel like sacrifice. I see this type of mindset a lot, especially with top level athletes. If I sacrifice more and cut everything else out of my life to become this sacrificial triathlon robot then I will be the best! I don't agree with this. It's not that you shouldn't out work your competition, but you should never view it as a sacrifice to do so. You should be on the trainer for hours on a Saturday because you want to, it may not be super fun but you do it because you know it's going to make your goals a reality, not because you feel like you have to.
With this mindset you will be unstoppable and the path to success will be a lot more enjoyable! See you out there.
Jake is a triathlete and coach with a passion for travel and everything triathlon. He loves sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.
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