Last week was an interesting week and gave me some time to put a few things into perspective and also reflect on my own development this year.
I've had a really busy week in work and had to juggle around my training slightly but still managed to nail every session, Saturday was a great example of this as I did a shorter run (10km) than normal of late but upped the intensity of the session, a great way of making it count. Although faster run sessions are not necessarily essential training for an ultra they are good in terms of mixing it up a bit and having entered the Great South Run for later in the year it will help towards the training for that when I want to be running at a much quicker pace.
I had a meeting with the tutor from the training provider for my external study in work on Thursday. This was the first meeting I’d had (they’d forgotten to schedule one which should have happened weeks earlier). The quality of the work I’m providing is to a good standard, but I was told that in certain areas I was emphasising on what I was already doing, rather than how I would be using it in the context within the study areas.
I was extremely annoyed and angry with myself as I should have done this properly.
I sat down to reflect on this and gave myself a bit of a rocket up the backside. To me this wasn’t acceptable and didn’t meet the standards I expect from myself. I felt that the quality was good, the effort I put in was what I would expect, but the outcomes didn’t match. I decided that this needed to change and change immediately. Being good isn’t good enough, being exceptional is.
In the past I would have beaten myself up about this, and it would have lasted for quite a few days at a minimum. I would have been dragging myself down a fair amount, and it would have focused on other areas of my life as well, therefore increasing the scope of self-blame.
I was more focused on what needed to change, what I wanted the outcomes to be, what I needed to do to change that immediately, and what I needed to put into place to stop it from happening again. The focus wasn’t on what I felt I had done wrong and picking up a stick to beat myself with Instead I focused on what the solution was and putting it into place.
I also reflected on the reasons I was doing the study in the first place, the differences it was making presently and the differences it would make in the future. I felt it was important to do that to realise the value, not just the value to myself personally but also the overall value to myself professionally and others as well. I don’t expect excellence to happen automatically, I expect excellence to happen through hard work, determination, learning from mistakes, and never quitting. I also know that if I want excellence to happen I need to raise the bar. That requires putting in more effort, that requires pushing limits even more, that means knowing that if 80% is required to reach the standard than 90% should be the minimum target.
I looked at the targets and goals I’ve set for myself this year. Some of those I’m smashing, others are going well. I looked at how I might improve on each and every one of them – what would happen if I put in that extra bit of effort, how much difference would that make. I also reflected on how much I’ve developed and changed in the last month, since the start of the year, and since a year ago. The answer to all of those is a lot. I’ve not been this determined for years, I’ve not been this focused for years, I’ve not been this self-disciplined for years.
Instead of sitting there and feeling a certain amount of self-pity and focusing on self-blame and feeling bad about myself I felt fired up to make the changes I needed to put into place and action them straight away and to get back on track. I was able to put a glitch into perspective and focus on the outcomes I wanted and move forwards more determined to succeed than before.
Making Change Happen!
The universe is a vast and a very hostile, uncaring environment, which lacks compassion. We are mere specks of dust, atoms in this vast universe that has been evolving and expanding for billions of years, residing on a dying planet in a dying backyard solar system. Eventually that big ball of fire we look at in the sky which generates life on our planet will die and so will our planet – we have absolutely no influence or control over that fact. I’m guessing the good news is this isn’t due to happen for a few billion years yet, which is cool by me as it won’t mess my plans up for the foreseeable future, so it’s not all doom and gloom and I have a bit of time on my side.
Life is pretty uncaring at times as well and can lack compassion. Unlike the future of the universe though we have a certain amount of control, influence, and autonomy when it comes to life, certainly in the context of how we choose to live it. We can make rational choices and decisions on many aspects of our lives.
At the end of last year I took stock of my life in its current context and decided what I wanted it to look like on my terms – I was pretty brutal in my assessment which is no surprise, as I’m my own harshest critic. So, what could I influence, what was I in control of, what was I happy about, what wasn’t I happy about and what did I need to do, what changes did I need and, most importantly, want to make.
Change, now there is a funny word or concept. Many see change as being linked with negativity – when I think of it in a career context I see changes within the organisation where I work (that ever evolving ‘universe’ of employment where I have very little influence or control over organisational change) linked to the trimming down of human resource. I’ve been through multiple ‘change programmes’ in work (with my current employer and some in the past) and feared losing my job each and every time. The reality is, I’ve managed to move up the hierarchy each time with a better job and a pay-rise to boot. Not bad considering the negative connotation I usually associate with that type of change. I also had a choice – quit and find another role somewhere else or tough it out and see what happens.
People can tell you to change, and it is very rare that those changes take place depending on the context, it triggers a response from our “ego state” depending on how we take that ‘request’ to change and that response is not always positive.
In order for change, in a personal context, to take place you need it to want to happen. It should be on your terms and no one else’s. Those choices and decisions that we make for ourselves are the most empowering ones, if others have taken that control we feel, as adults, we have lost our sense of autonomy.
I’m always suspicious of people who try to change others – what is their ulterior motive? If they need to change a person, why are they bothering with them in the first place if it bugs them that much? Just a personal opinion though.
Making change happen isn’t easy at times. We have evolved into a species that now requires or demands instant results, instant gratification, and instant answers. We are now a species who when this doesn’t happen, think that there is something fundamentally wrong in the universe (and does the universe actually care?).
Real change takes time, it requires patience, it requires practice and application all the time, it requires proper planning and accepting there will be mistakes made, things not going to plan, and that constant threat of failure at any stage that could lead to going back to the drawing board and starting again. Failure is good, we learn from it. Quitting because you’ve failed isn’t so good (this is why many never go to the gym past January, after taking out an annual membership only weeks before – the motivation isn’t there because the results haven’t been instant!).
All the goals and targets I set myself to achieve this year will not be achieved instantly, and I’m happy about that, because these are things I need to work on every day – be it fitness, diet, educating myself, mindfulness, or things to improve the environment I function in. Every day, I ask myself what difference those changes are making, everyday I know that if I remain focused and can answer that question I will achieve those changes, targets and goals way, way, way before that big ball of raging fire in the sky burns out and dies. I also know that as long as I’m working towards them, I will never quit.
That is the first month of the year done and dusted. I’ve made a good start to the year and am reasonably pleased with what I have achieved in January.
At the start of the year I gave myself 10 targets to achieve to by the end of the year. Added to this are weekly and monthly targets to achieve. I feel I need to do this to keep my focus and stay on track with those 10 targets I have that are to improve mind, body and soul. Every day, I’m doing something that is working towards that improvement in mind, body and soul.
I’m very mindful that a year ago I did dry January with an emphasis on improvement in many areas of my life. The following month or so the plan fell apart somewhat prior to the unforeseen lockdown – a year later, and I’m much wiser, much more driven, feeling mentally stronger and much more determined not to just achieve those 10 targets but to utterly obliterate them. I’ve not made those targets easy either, that would be lazy and a bit of a cop out. These are targets that push me every day and every week.
So reflecting on January. I’ve made a good start, but I know I can do better, much better.
In work, I’m striving for continuous improvement every day, I’m being a lot more subjective and critical about my input – what difference will it make, what impact will it have it and what I need to do to make it better. Forget that it looks good, what I want is that it looks exceptional.
I’ve made a good start to working towards the qualification I’m currently studying for. My end of year appraisal was much better than I anticipated, as someone who doesn’t feel comfortable being complimented on what I have done well it did feel a bit cringy at times, but the feedback was good (especially from a 360 review from colleagues). I’ve identified a few areas I need to work on to improve.
A few things happened in January that would usually have left me feeling a bit down, moody, negative and flat, but I didn’t let those things do it – I either worked through what the actual issue was and come to a workable solution, or I put them into perspective within the bigger picture.
I can spend days without talking to anyone due to the lockdown. The solitude isn’t bothering me at all. I’m keeping myself focused and occupied. I’m reading a lot, in January I finished reading 7 books. I’m more mindful of my moods, more mindful of how positive 'me' achieves much, much more than negative 'me,' every day I’m working on this. Every day, I look at my targets and visualise how I will feel when each of these is achieved, I tell myself why I’m doing it and the long term benefits of why, how it factors into being a better version of myself. Every day when I look at those targets I tell myself I am accountable, and it is down to me and no one else to put the effort in.
Training is going well. I’ve scheduled in 26 training sessions in January and completed them all. I know that I need that consistency and commitment if I’m going to achieve two of my goals this year – not being in the mood to train or rubbish weather is not an excuse for not training. No excuses and completing the sessions no matter how tough they are, ‘harder than you think, it’s a beautiful thing’ as Public Enemy said. My runs are now done early in the morning so that I know they are done, and it isn’t hanging over me for the rest of the day. On Saturday morning I completed the recent virtual challenge I had signed up for, pleased with that, but it is just a small stepping stone in the larger plan.
My diet is improving each week, and I’m looking at what I’m eating and how it can improve my physical and mental health.
January has been a good start, I put down a marker and nothing else, I need to continue to build on this. Build, complete, reflect, plan, build, reflect, develop, improve, push, deliver continuously.
I consider myself as a person with limited talents and resources, but I’m starting to work on how I use these more and more to my advantage to realise my full potential. January set the momentum, nothing else, the momentum needs to be constant and continuous.
Drive and the Imposter Syndrome!
It is a sunny July afternoon in 2004, and I’m sitting at a pre-race briefing for an ironman-distance triathlon I’m racing the following day. I’ve spent months training for this, but I’m having nagging doubts about my ability, I’m asking myself if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I’m looking at the other competitors at the briefing, and I am thinking you look a lot fitter than I do.
It is a June evening in 2007, I’m in Belgium two days before the European Long-Distance Triathlon Championships as part of the GB age-group team and I am sitting in the restaurant of the hotel. On the next table are some of the GB elite team. I start to have similar doubts again around being good enough, my ability, and being good enough to be in the team, even though the race results from the previous 18 months are screaming YES, MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH. I want to go back to my hotel room, pack my bag and head back to the airport.
It is a March morning in 2019, and I’m sitting in a meeting with the new team I’ve joined in work. I recognise quite a few faces, talented people within the team. I’d worked hard to get the opportunity to join this team and had really impressed at the interview. I feel out of my depth, and I am asking myself whether I should have gained more experience before joining and whether I will struggle with the standards and output required within the team.
It is an October evening in 2020, and I’m speaking to a friend about running and the Great South Run. They ask how many marathons I’ve run, then how many long-distance triathlons I’ve completed. I try and shake the answers off by saying it wasn’t really a big deal, they tell me it is, and they don’t know many people, who’ve done that, and it is an amazing achievement. Again, I dismiss this making out it was no big deal.
It is a January evening in 2021, and I’m watching a documentary and the person being interviewed said they had always felt that they had imposter syndrome. What they are saying rings a bell with me in many ways.
What is imposter syndrome?
According to the definitions I’ve explored, it is an internal dialogue that you are not as good as others see or perceive you to be. It can see success or accomplishment as something that was achieved through pure chance or luck, rather than talent or ability. It is linked with self-doubt and being inadequate.
Yeah, I can relate to most of those definitions I’ve found and relate to them in some way or other, to the way I’ve felt in many situations over the years.
I went and did a few online tests and the scores were pretty high (75-85% in favour of having imposter syndrome).
When doing some of the tests, some of the questions really resonated with me. I find it hard to take compliments and usually try and deflect it, the same with praise when I’ve done something worthy, again deflect it. Things I’ve achieved, the same thing, deflection and not seeing it as a big deal.
I’d like to think I’m a fairly driven individual – even with high levels of self-doubt. When I set myself goals or targets I achieve them. I don’t undertake these goals or targets with a complacent attitude and make sure I have done everything, so I am able to give it my best shot. I’m also aware of my limitations as well.
I sometimes reflect on what I could have done better and focus on this rather than on what I have achieved. I rarely stop to reflect on what I have achieved and tend to move onto the next goal, the next opportunity to push myself, the opportunity to prove to myself I have that that constant drive. I’m not one to brag about my achievements. I set myself goals or targets to see how far I can push myself and at times it becomes an internal battle to quell the self-doubt.
On Monday I start another 14 months of study alongside my ‘day job’ – again those thoughts of ability and capability are there. Deep down though I know that I will eclipse this goal because I’ve done it countless times in the past, when the doubts have been there.
It's OK Not To Be OK!
Who told you that you need to feel the way you are feeling? Is there an expectation that you need to be the strong one all the time, that any chinks in the armour will leave you appearing as being weak? What is the impact of not being the strong person all the time?
I’ve been doing some reading and research for my role in work around well-being, mental health, how things like PTSD, stress, anxiety, and depression affect people even when they need to be mentally strong (especially in their peer group which can then effect their status within that group), and the link to our own emotional intelligence.
It is perfectly OK and perfectly normal not to be OK sometimes. We are in a third lockdown, it is sucking the fun out of life for many. Plans go out of the window, circumstances change (or is some cases don’t, causing a sense of monotony), socialising isn’t happening, we are limited in the things we are allowed to do, some are suffering from ‘cabin fever’ by being stuck indoors all the time (which is made even worse by the winter conditions and a more transmissible variant of the virus), and it can sometimes be frustrating with a routine of wake, work, sleep, repeat.
We’ve been through lockdown before and the novelty factor has worn very, very thin for most. Sensibly the government and scientists haven’t put a timeframe on this one as they had with the initial one (12 weeks at maximum I believe) – though that in itself can be a double-edged sword – by not putting a time-frame on the lockdown they are not giving unrealistic expectations but on the flip side we have no indication when the lockdown will lift. That is going to affect people and moods can change daily and weekly due to it.
It is OK not to be OK sometimes. We can all feel low, especially in winter. This winter now has the added challenge of the lockdown. It is OK not to be strong all the time, every minute of the day, 24/7. The way that we manage both our moods and emotions is vital to our individual well-being. Having that awareness of how we are feeling or how we might feel. Acknowledging that we are not always going to be our normal, fully energised, super-selves and there are going to be times when our energy levels and moods are low. If we feel guilty about not feeling our best, our moods and emotions are only going to remain negative and lead us into a downwards spiral and that may be difficult to get ourselves out of in the longer term.
Having an awareness of what is triggering these moods or emotions is important – it could be focusing on the things that we are not able to do, it could be constant news coverage on the pandemic, or it could be the monotony of the lockdown restrictions – wake, work, sleep, repeat. Ask yourself how many of these you can control or influence – not many is probably the answer. Focus on what you can control, what you are able to influence, and what matters – control the controllable. Acknowledge that you are not always going to be at your best and accept that, don’t be too hard on yourself, and be kind to yourself.
Do things that are going to make you happy. Do things that are going to have a positive effect on your emotions. Keep a mood tracker – record your mood at lunchtime and at night, are there patterns emerging? What can you do to change those patterns if you are not happy with them?
What can you do to be kind to yourself?
CORONAVIRUS - The New Normal!
And so, the lock-down and social distancing continues. It is all very strange. It is strange not seeing friends and family. It is strange having to totally adapt to a new way of working. It is strange not doing any travelling for work, something that became the norm last year. It is strange attending multiple meetings and delivering courses over zoom sessions.
Things I usually took for granted have changed dramatically – going to the shops, going to the pub with friends, and going to football.
One of the things I have been really impressed with is the way that communities have pulled together to support each other – whether this is in a practical or emotional sense. I really hope that this continues once we get back to a more ‘normal’ way of life.
As the lockdown has continued it has sometimes been a challenge to find ways of keeping oneself occupied – I’ve probably done more quizzes in the last couple of weeks than I have done in the last couple of years!!!! I need to read more though. A number of box sets on DVD have been watched yet again.
My ‘lockdown’ fitness challenge has kept me going and it is something I’ve been enjoying. I’m currently making my way along the Appalachian Trail. I had initially said I was only going to count my run miles in this but after doing the maths and looking at the distance I calculated it would take me around two years to complete!!!!! The app allows for any fitness activity to be included. As I’m also doing a few sessions a week on my indoor bike trainer I figured I might as well include these miles as well – after all it is training and it is keeping me fit. So to date (26 days since I started the challenge) I’ve covered 330 miles leaving just 1,638 miles to go. Looking on the map that plots the progress it can sometimes seem a bit daunting looking at how far I’ve got to go but that is all part of the fun I guess!
The runs and bike sessions are getting longer every week, so I’m determined to finish this as soon as I can.
With many races cancelled this year it has been good to have a goal to work towards.
I’ve noticed when I’ve been out running the number of people exercising – either running, walking or cycling. This is fantastic and I really hope that this continues once the rules around social distancing are relaxed, and we return to a more ‘normal’ way of life.
I’ve also noticed on social media the number of people that are taking up some of the virtual fitness challenges as well and it has been fantastic to see.
I like challenges and I enjoy having targets and goals to strive towards. I know for a fact that if I was just training for the sake of training my motivation levels would drop quite quickly as would my mood which would have an effect on my mental well-being.
It is amazing at the moment just some of the small things that people can and are doing, despite the huge challenges that the lockdown and social-distancing are bringing, to keep themselves occupied.
Until next time, keep well and stay safe, and remember those small changes each day can make a huge impact over time.
It has been a couple of months since I have done a blog entry. Things have been pretty busy over the last couple of months, which is one of the reasons I haven’t sat down to write anything. There have been a few changes since I last wrote and I’ve started 2020 feeling really positive and really optimistic about the year and the future.
I decided that it was time to really make some changes in my life and take full on ownership of those changes. I started the year by committing to dry January and cutting out alcohol completely for January. It was easier than I thought it was going to be and it was really good to start the year by achieving that.
When I first started this blog I wasn’t happy with my life in lots of ways. I think this is partly down to the way I am, the way I see myself, and the way I see what I should be achieving. I spent a lot of time last year asking questions about myself and what I was capable of. I also spent a lot of time pushing myself – especially in work – always asking questions and constantly challenging myself. ‘What if….?’ was a constant throughout the year.
There is uncertainty in work again – another restructure and there is the risk of redundancy. Not ideal but I have some influence on the roles I can go for and what my capabilities are. I joined a new team around a year ago and felt like I was a very small fish in a very, very big ocean. Over the year I have achieved quite a lot in work, and I am hoping this is both realised and recognised in the selection process.
I’m never one who enjoys taking credit or compliments from others but some of the feedback I’ve received from managers and colleagues leads me to believe I am destined for bigger and better things at work.
When I first started this blog I was determined to complete an ultra-distance marathon. That is still a goal and will be something I achieve. However, I’ve been realistic in terms of my capabilities and set this as a longer term target for either 2021 or 2022.
I am training still and have set myself some more realistic targets for this year, so I can get back into a more varied and structured way of training. I’m hoping that having a variation will also result in me remaining injury free (something that has hampered my training over the last year).
I am planning on doing some running events, a couple of triathlons, some sportive cycle events, and hopefully finish the year with a marathon. Rather than focusing on one event I’ve decided to have smaller targets across the year so I can adapt the training and the focus before taking on that much bigger challenge.
I’ve made a good start to 2020 and I am determined to keep that going. I have people in my life who mean a lot to me, improve my life, make me happy, and make me laugh.
I spent a lot of last year looking at the things and the people who made me feel negative and decided to fully distance myself from them – it was an easy choice to make.
I looked at my own behaviours and what triggers those behaviours – again eliminating the negativity was an easy choice to make.
My mindset has changed for 2020. I used to feel that if I wasn’t achieving everything I needed to then I didn’t have the right to feel happy about things. I felt in constant conflict with myself and I’ve realised that this is not good. We all have a right to be happy and that should be on our own terms and our own terms only. Other people can have an influence on this but it is down to us as individuals to decide how we feel.
My Darkest Day!
It was probably my darkest day. I can’t even recall the date now but it was 20 years ago. I’d sunk into a darker and darker depression – I’d stopped going to work, I wasn’t getting up at all as I just couldn’t face another day, I wasn’t eating either. I had gone crashing down into a never-ending downwards spiral. I couldn’t see any way out of it at all.
I was single and hated the fact, I was working as a cycle courier and was fed up with it. I just couldn’t see much of a future let alone a bright one. I was in my late twenties and the depression had taken a strangle-hold on me in a big way. I viewed myself as nothing short of a total and utter failure. The months leading up to this point had been a major struggle – I was drinking heavily and really couldn’t give a shit about anything or anyone.
It was a Sunday and I had filled up two empty bottles with water and filled them with paracetamol – I had put around 50 effervescent tablets into each bottle – before starring at them for an age and eventually drinking the contents of both bottles. This wasn’t a cry for help, this was me at the very end, no more answers having accepted the only solution was to end my life. I thought that the quantity of tablets would knock me out before my life ended. I didn’t leave a suicide note. I just didn’t see the point.
Several hours later I was hunched over the toilet being sick in a way I have never been sick before. It was continuous and seemed never-ending. I ended up in A&E at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital that night. They managed to stabilise me and I spent the following week in hospital. That first night in the hospital was strange. I felt confused and I was scared but felt at peace as well.
The following day a really good friend came to visit me at lunchtime commenting (rather ironically) ‘that if I tried something like that again she would kill me’.
I learnt a lot that week in hospital. I realised that my depression (and episodes of depression) needed to be tackled head on and couldn’t engulf me like it had on this occasion. Back then mental health wasn't widely spoken about as it is today. There was still a certain amount of stigma associated with it as well.
The doctors told me that it was lucky that I was so fit as certain blood counts associated with the overdose were off the scale and they had never seen anyone survive with such high levels before. Thankfully the majority of the damage was to the liver and this would eventually heal.
On the ward I got talking to the bloke in the bed next to me – he had to be admitted to hospital every couple of months due to having sickle cell disease – he was really upbeat and was just getting on with it. One thing that stayed with me was watching an elderly man at the other end of the ward die. I was looking over towards him in those last moments of his life and watched his last breath. I spent a week in the hospital before being discharged. That is when the real hard work started. I was at rock-bottom and needed to rebuild my life again.
I’d come to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be instant, and it was down to me to sort the mess out which had become my life. I also had to accept that I suffered from depression and that I needed to control it as best I could – this is something that I am still doing 20 years later. There are times when I think I’m doing well and other times when I think I need to get my act together. That has happened quite a lot over the last 20 years.
I think in the last 20 years I’ve achieved a lot and learnt a lot about myself. I went from working as a cycle courier to becoming a performance manager for the company I was working for. I started a career in the civil service (and was promoted twice within my first 8 months). I studied and trained to become a sports massage therapist, worked for myself and gained an excellent reputation as well as working with some brilliant and inspiring athletes. Another career change has seen me working for the British Red Cross for the last 7 years and advancing, learning, and studying along the way.
One of the things that really helped was exercise – I finished another 8 marathons (I had completed my first a few years before), finished multiple triathlons including four ironman distance, as well as racing for Great Britain at the European Long Distance Championships in 2007.
In that 20 years I’ve been in 6 relationships and am now single again – I’m not that fussed about that, some days I think it’d be great to be with someone, most days I’m happy being on my own.
I don’t really speak about that dark day very much. I know that it changed me. I know that it made me see that if I wanted to achieve anything I would need to really push myself hard. I’ve learned that failure isn’t a bad thing as long as you learn from the mistakes made. That dark day helped me to build a very strong mind-set where I refuse to give up, give in or stay down when knocked down by life.
That dark day was the first step to everything I have achieved since.
I started this blog around a year ago, give or take a couple of weeks.
At the time I wasn’t in a very good place for various reasons and I had a lot of questions that I needed to ask myself at the time. Some of the answers I probably didn’t want to hear if I’m being honest. I had also entered an ultra marathon and had begun training for it. I never made the start line of the ultra marathon for many reasons.
A lot has changed in those 12 months.
Reflecting on the last 12 months and not being in a happy place at the time there were multiple things I needed to change in my life – some of those I have achieved and others are a work in progress. Compared to 12 months ago I am in a much better place now. I have moved and now have my own space – it is utter bliss.
I wasn’t happy where I was living and craved for my own space. The move has brought a lot of structure back into my life. I need structure in my life otherwise I get distracted and side-tracked and lose focus on the things I should be doing. When this happens a bad habit kicks in – procrastination – and when that happens I start drifting almost aimlessly. I’m aware of the things I should be doing but due to a lack of focus I put them off. When I put them off I feel guilty for doing so and that pushes me into a very low place as I feel I am letting myself down and selling myself short.
12 months ago I was bored in a role that I could do with my eyes closed. I’m much happier in my job as well. It involves a lot of travel at times but compared to my previous role it is more challenging and has allowed me to develop new skills and gain fresh knowledge. It has also allowed me to push myself professionally and I think that this has been noticed by senior managers. This could be useful for future opportunities.
12 months ago I had been knocked to the floor again. Very much like when this has happened in the past I refuse to stay down (even though that may look like the best option at the time). A few people have pointed this out to me over the last couple of months – there is something internal that refuses to stay down and give up, it is almost like I should be broken but it is just the start of something new and I’m just breaking myself in, having to start with a blank canvas refusing to accept defeat.
I’ve faced some very tough challenges over the years but have a huge inner reserve that always pulls me back up. It takes a certain amount of mental toughness to do that.
So things are much better than 12 months ago, lessons have been learnt, challenges overcome, opportunities taken and others missed. I’m constantly asking myself those tough questions and never accepting complacency.
Since moving I’ve got back into a training routine. Not being on the start line of the ultra marathon in August has been niggling away at me. It is something I need to complete for my own reasons. I’ve seen the event I want to do and now I’m happier with things. I will be on that start line next July and believe me I will cross that finish line as well.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. The new role in work is going well as well as being extremely busy – I’m in my 5th week and it has been like being in the middle of a whirlwind. I’m loving it because I’m having to push myself daily and having to challenge myself daily as well.
It isn’t just in work that I’m busy but also out of work as well. A few months ago I was sitting at home alone feeling pretty fed up with life and knew I had to kick myself firmly up the arse to change that. I was in total denial about how much I had dragged myself down and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to change. In that moment I knew I had to turn things around. Months later and I feel fitter, feel stronger, feel more in control, and feel happier. It was a tough call to make that change. It isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that in my life.
In my late twenties I was in a real rut and suffering from a chronic bout of depression that resulted in me taking a large paracetamol overdose – I wanted to check out as I saw no other way out. I was riddled with guilt about choices, decisions and events that had happened in my life. I was chronically unhappy. I couldn’t see how I could change my life. I spent a week in hospital recovering and was told I was lucky to be alive. I was told the amount of paracetamol I had taken should have killed me.
When I was discharged from hospital I vowed that I needed to turn things around and worked my arse off to do so and continue to do so to this day. When I looked in the mirror last year I knew I needed to take ownership and be accountable again and get back on track, that there had to be more than this and I was the only person that could change things – no one was going to turn things around for me. Life isn’t a rehearsal and we only get one shot at it.
Sometimes the hard part is admitting that there is a problem and there needs to be major change. Making those changes is not an easy option, it means taking yourself well and truly out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself, pushing yourself hard, pushing yourself even harder – do more, be more. It takes effort to do that.
Someone I know has hit that point where they have realised they need to make some major changes because how they are living is destructive and unsustainable. When I found out I knew how they felt as I’d been in that place before. I’ve chatted to them quite a bit since Sunday and we both know that it isn’t going to be easy but it is achievable to make those changes for the better.
I’ve told them not to look solely at the bigger goal but to break it down into much smaller achievable goals. If you make a 1% change to your life every week then in 6 months you could be in a much better place. In a year just imagine what you could achieve. 1% change each week.
To do that takes heart, it takes discipline, it takes effort, it takes commitment. Most people don’t do this – they remain in a rut, they are in denial, they embrace mediocrity. They don’t make changes and remain in their comfort zone. Closed minds and the easy option all the time. Some of the toughest people I know are those who have looked in the mirror and have said ‘things need to change’ and have effected that change. It is not an easy thing to do. It is not the easy option.
If you want to make changes I challenge you to do so – each week write down that 1% change you’ve made – and then in 6 months see how much you’ve achieved and how much things have changed.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.