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How I Stopped the Excuses and Finally Did My First Triathlon

One day.

One day I’ll eat well. One day I’ll start waking up early. One day I’ll do a triathlon.

PART ONE — TRASH THE EXCUSES

For many years I told myself that one day I would achieve one of my biggest fitness goals: successfully complete a triathlon.

The sport had a strong appeal to me. The swim. The bike. The run. The idea of being a versatile, well-rounded athlete.

I knew I wanted it. I knew I had to do it. And I knew that if I didn’t do it, I’d one day look back and wish I had.

But year after year, I found a reason to delay, to postpone.

“Not this year, I’m busy with work.”

“There’s too much going on in my personal life.”

“I need to focus on my career right now, but maybe next year.”

Eventually I realized that life will always be busy. There will always be unexpected things which come up. There is never a “perfect time” to do anything.

And as the years passed, I began to wonder, “Why haven’t I actually done this? What is holding me back?”

The biggest challenge I faced, by and large, was a lack of energy. And I certainly had a good excuse.

In 2012 I was diagnosed with a sleeping disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Quite prevalent in our society, yet often undiagnosed, sleep apnea is a condition in which one’s breathing becomes disrupted while sleeping, causing interruptions in the normal sleep cycle. This often results in poor-quality sleep, leaving the person feeling tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night of sleep.

I had tried various treatments, but with limited effectiveness. It was a struggle sometimes just to get through the day.

This seemed to be the perfect excuse. “I don’t have enough energy.” Who could argue with that?

But I was determined not to give up.

One day I realized that I had a decision to make. I was either going to either succumb to this problem, or I was going to overcome it. I decided once and for all that I was going to overcome it, even if it took me the rest of my life to make that happen.

It was now clear: I was going to live life on my terms. I was not going to let this condition define me or hold me back.

I WILL PERSEVERE. I WILL OVERCOME THIS.

I wasn’t sure what was happening inside of me, but I knew that I was making a big decision. A decision that I would no longer would I sit by and remain a hapless victim. I was going to take control of my life, and do whatever it took to become a triathlete.

But I knew myself. I knew that in the past, I was inconsistent and easily discouraged. I’d start an exercise routine for a few months and begin making progress, only to get distracted and sidetracked by other things in life. Before I knew it, my progress came to a screeching halt and I’d have to start all over again. It was a pattern that I had repeated one too many times.

If I want different results, I have to take different actions.

I realized that taking the same approach as I’d taken in the past would simply lead to the same results. If I really wanted to experience a different outcome, I had to do something radically different.

PART TWO — A NEW VISION

What I really required was to develop a new mindset. If I could get myself to think different thoughts, and my body to create different emotions, then I could get myself to take different actions.

I WILL DO A TRIATHLON. I AM GOING TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

So how was I going to do this? How would I stay motivated? How would get myself to train and prepare consistently?

By visualizing it first.

I needed a tool to remind me each day of my goal and priorities. Something that would motivate and inspire me on a daily basis. Something that would help me stay focused and on track when things got tough.

Aha! I had a vision of what I would create.

I would create a Goal Board, a visual representation of the goal I was pursuing. This would be my daily reminder to stay focused and on track as I worked towards being race-ready.

I got a poster board and began writing. I wrote down the goal I was setting out to achieve, and how I was going to get there. In the center, I placed an inspiring image of Ironman triathletes with their goggles, swim caps and wet suits, ready to take off.

This is the beginning of my journey. I am destined for success!!

A surge of excitement flowed through me as I tacked the Goal Board onto my wall. For the first time ever, I visually saw what I wanted to achieve, and what it would take to get there. My mind began processing the gravity of what I was committing to, and what I would be faced with in the coming months.

THIS IS HAPPENING. THERE’S NO TURNING BACK.

Once I had created the board and placed it firmly on the wall, there was no question that I was going to do this. I was crossing a bridge into uncharted territory, and burning the bridge behind me, leaving only one path forward — the path to my first triathlon.

PART THREE — PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

Surprisingly, the simple act of making my Goal Board and affixing it to the wall conveyed a powerful message in my mind. It said: “This time things are different. This time nothing will stop me.” I felt a tingling sensation on my skin, and a wave of energy coursed through my entire body. In that instant I knew I was stepping into the next phase of my life.

Using the Goal Board, I felt a newfound determination to perform and follow through. Each morning as I woke up, upon seeing the board, I was reminded not only of my goal, but of the intensity of my desire to achieve it. I realized that, in a way, this was a promise I had made to myself, and I would do anything to make sure I did not break that promise.

Upon waking each morning and seeing my Goal Board, I was reminded to plan the day’s activities in a way which aligned with my goal. Each afternoon involved either a swim, bike, run, or some combination thereof. Food transformed from a source of indulgence to a source of nutrition. Other non-triathlon activities were either scheduled around my training, or not at all.

After several weeks of repeating these habits, they eventually became a normal part of my routine. Training became second-nature. I didn’t have to give it much thought — grabbing my gym bag and training gear was automatic. I had successfully integrated triathlon training as a way of life.

The Goal Board also helped me visualize and mentally prepare for race day. After looking over my board for a minute or so, I would close my eyes and visualize myself on race day. I’d feel myself gliding through the water, then pedaling away on the bike, and finally running to the finish line. As I practiced this visualization, I felt my mind, body and spirit coming into alignment on a path toward a singular objective — triathlon success.

As I crossed the finish line on race day, the culmination of four months of hard work and diligent preparation, I realized that my dream had finally come true. I had finally achieved what I wanted to accomplish for so many years. The deep sense of satisfaction I felt upon completing the race made every bit of work worth the effort.

I FINALLY DID IT! I REACHED MY GOAL!!

PART FOUR — THE ROAD AHEAD

Looking back on the entire journey, I realized that most impactful result was not the triathlon itself, but a renewed belief in myself — a belief that I can set my sights on a challenging goal and do what it takes to make it happen.

This experience taught me that regardless of the setbacks you’ve experienced, there is always a chance to turn things around. A chance to create a new future. A chance to bring your dreams to life.

We are stronger than we realize. We are capable of doing great things. With a clear decision to achieve our goal, and a compelling visual tool to keep us motivated along the way, we can do things we never knew were possible.

For me, this means that a whole new world of possibilities has just opened up. New challenges. New experiences. New opportunities.

And I can’t wait to discover the adventures that lie ahead.

If you want to apply this same strategy to achieve your next big goal, get your own Personal Success Board here. This version is optimized to help you get focused and energized, so you can break past the procrastination and finally get on track.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at joseph@naturalspark.com.

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