Comparison can be the thief of joy said Theodore Roosevelt. At this time of year we often do a lot of reflecting and planning and that can lead to healthy comparison as well as the judgmental kind that steals our joy. I have no idea what lesson you need to learn or have been learning so I’ll just share from my own experience.
The open is coming up in a few weeks. For those that don’t do CrossFit, this won’t mean anything. I’ve now been doing CrossFit for five years and the Open is a glorious and horrific five weeks where athletes from all over the world do the same work out, competing for reps and time. There’s people that think of CrossFit and they picture Matt Fraser, Katrin Davidsdottir and these crazy fit athletes, but the beauty of the open is that things are separated by age, gender, scaled, or prescribed which means that there is literally a workout possible for anyone.
Because I’ve been doing CrossFit a while, it is very tempting for my judgmental analytical brain to immediately think of all the things that I feel like I should be able to do by now, but what good does that do me? Some of the lessons I’ve been learning as 2018 has come to a close and I’ve been reflecting, both professionally and personally, is that it is critical to celebrate your wins, small and big if you truly want to have joy!
Steven and I are using tips and strategies from Brendon Burchard who wrote High Performance Habits. He likes to have you address many different categories. I personally feel that the most important are mental, emotional, physical, and relational and that you can look at all four of those categories from both a professional and personal standpoint. Obviously CrossFit falls under the Physical category in terms of the way I choose to take care of my body. Going back to our original topic of comparison, what good would it do me to think of all the things I should be doing? Can it motivate me to set new goals for this year? Absolutely! Can it make me forget all of the progress and changes that have been made in the past five years? Absolutely! One thing that we do in CrossFit is track our workouts in a program called Wodify. When you improve on a past performance, it automatically puts a gold star up next to that work out so you know you got a PR (personal record). I have no idea how many gold stars I’ve earned over the past five years but there have been a lot. Some of my biggest achievements are being able to do a strict pull-up, string kipping pull-ups, dead-lift more than 200 pounds, RX a workout called Grace that involves doing 30 clean and jerks at 95 pounds, and run a mile in less than eight minutes. To someone who likes to lift heavy, my dead-lift of 200 pounds is not particularly impressive. To someone who is a runner and doesn’t lift, 200 pounds might as well be 400 pounds. But to that runner, my eight minute mile would be laughable. One of my favorite things about CrossFit is that the emphasis is truly only on improving on yourself and that every single work out is scalable to the extent that anyone can be included. Where do you find yourself comparing? Where does that comparison cause you to belittle yourself, feel guilt or shame, and contribute to the constant barrage of thoughts that you are never enough?
I work with a lot of mamas and I’m a mother myself. Mom guilt might be one of the latest hashtags but is also incredibly real and anything that contributes to our self-doubt, self criticism and ultimately self hatred needs to be considered an enemy and eliminated! Obviously social media does not help with this and I’m not going to go on a rant about that. We all know the pitfalls and yet we still spend far too much time there. The good news is you can control that and you can control your thoughts, which therefore gives you the power to change any of the things that are robbing your joy.
That mom who can put together a perfectly themed birthday party on a budget and seems like the hostess with the mostest? She can’t balance a checkbook worth beans. The mom who is fit and thin and always has her meal prep on point? She and her husband made some sacrifices so that she can stay at home with the kids who are now in school so she has time to focus on that. That mom with the amazing career who is a manager and gets to travel for work? She cries herself to sleep at least once a week because of all of the things she’s missing out on with her family and constantly questions whether she’s doing the right thing. Stop looking at these different women and thinking that it means you should have the career, the awesome food prep, the successful career, and a clean house! None of us have it all, yet we all have everything! At least everything that we need to have a joy filled life.
Practical tips: What is one thing you can do today to either stop something that is sucking your joy or create Joy? Here are some of my go-to favorites.
Things to stop: Time on social media/phone/games, looking at what weights other people are lifting in the gym, staring in the mirror (unless I’m saying nice things)
Things to start: writing down three things I’m grateful for every day, at night writing down three things I accomplished that day, getting outside in nature, listening to music that is your jam.
I started with Theodore Roosevelt and will end with his not-famous-enough speech.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Do not be your own worst critic and don’t allow comparison to steal your joy! Celebrate being in the arena!