Beat Your Personal Best: Half A Step Forward Beats One Step Back
Last week, I got sick. Not the normal kind of sick, but the mightiest flu I could ever have imagined. I’m not one to complain, but I mean it when I say that being awake was truly painful. You know the worst part?
My routine has absolutely broken to pieces, and getting better means I’m now starting to put the pieces back together.
I haven’t worked out in over a week. Turning on computer felt torturous, so writing has taken a complete backseat. I cancelled more meetings than I would like to remember. Also, there may be no more Kleenex left in the greater Managua area.
Now that I’m (kind of) better, it’s time to get back into the groove — no matter how treacherous the change feels. It’s time to put my best foot forward. Luckily for me, I’ve spent years putting the right tools in place so I can do just that — get back in the groove. After years of training, my willpower was ready for the jolt, and now it’s time to put it to work.
Life is full of setbacks that come out of nowhere. Dealing with it beats not trying at all.
Constantly Improving & Beating Your Ghost
When I was little, my brothers and I spent way too much time playing Mario Kart. Probably way more time than was healthy, and it may have contributed to my road rage. Whoops?
Other than battling my brothers and bursting their balloons with blue shells, my favorite part was beating my own Ghost.
If you have never played Mario Kart: 1) you are not my friend, and 2) please see the image on the right.
When racing my own Ghost, I was basically racing against my best previous time. If I was racing on the rainbow track (a.k.a. the trippiest track ever), I was racing against the best time I had ever recorded on that track. It was very stressful, but also very fun. Beating yourself is the ultimate prize, isn’t it?
I always chose Yoshi. Only the cool kids liked Yoshi.
Fighting the Ghost
Sometimes, my real life feels like the Mario Kart Ghost race. That can be a very good thing because it pushes me to be better, to try harder, to no straggle behind. I know what I’m capable of and what effort I should be putting in. For example:
- I’ve worked our four times a week for almost five years. Anything less is just lazy.
- I can write way more than 1,000 words per day. Writing anything less than that is called distraction.
- My time is well balanced between family, friends, and work. Losing my focus on balance is unacceptable.
On the other hand, racing against my own Ghost can also feel pretty terrible. My worst moments played out something like this:
- I’m struggling on the treadmill, but if I ran for an hour straight last week, I should be able to do it again today.
- My new blog post isn’t getting that much attention. If my last post was great, why isn’t this one as good?
- My stomach felt good on fruits and salad all of last year, so why am I suddenly so hungry?
It’s easy to get wrapped up trying to beat my personal records.
I’ll tell you a secret: it takes hard work to talk myself down from all the self-comparison. I tell myself constantly: one step forward is better than not trying at all.
Small Steps to Tackle the Ghost
There are moments in life when our personal best moments will make us happy. There will be other moments, probably during a slump, when we’ll look back on our personal best moments and wonder how we did it. When used correctly, though, our personal records can be a great motivator.
Here are some steps to leverage your best moments:
- Get to know your Ghost. Knowing your personal records takes self-awareness and tracking. By keeping tabs on my workout schedule and creative output, I know what moments were my best — and why.
- Decide if it’s a good or bad Ghost. There are extreme moments in our lives that may not be worth repeating. They may not even be healthy. I can think of many in my life that were great, and others that were not.
- Know you are capable of achieving more. A veteran runner once told me that if I ran two miles, I could run four. If I could run four, I could run eight. And so on until the full marathon. The same goes for everything in your life. You can beat your personal bests if you truly want to.
- Know when to be wise enough to let it go. As life goes on, priorities and projects change. There are some zeniths in our lives that are not worth revisiting. Think hard about why you are comparing yourself to years past — and reflect on whether or not surpassing that zenith is the right choice for right now.
I’m getting back on the saddle after over a week out of my routine. I know my aim will be to eventually surpass my personal bests — but slowly, calmly and with extra doses of self-compassion.
At the end of the day, we’re all racing through life. Is there personal best you’re chasing?