As I spoke about in my last post, Ed Latimore’s Bucket Analogy, I am a visual man. I like to be able to have an image or a sort of “mental movie” that can serve to attack a problem or scenario in my life.
Even if you’re not a mountain biker, watch the following video. I will arrive at the point soon.
If you don’t really see the significance in what happened on your screen, I’ll break it down: Aaron Gwin’s chain broke right out of the starting gate. This is a HUGE problem in the context of a downhill race, and almost certainly means that the rider in question is going to have a weak finish, far off the winning time. After all, he CAN’T PEDAL.
Gwin ended up doing “the impossible” at Leogang (and is the most dominant man in the sport right now) because immediately after the chain snapped, he changed his game plan for the race run (this is almost impossible to do on the fly, for the record). Instead of relying on powerful pedal strokes at strategic points on the course, he shifted his strategy to rely SOLELY on carrying his speed; maintaining momentum.
As you saw, he ended up winning the event and blowing everyone’s minds. In the mountain bike world, he “broke the internet” with this win.
The last two posts on here have been about challenges I’ve faced over the last few months as they pertain to my current goals of fat loss and getting my business(es) up and running to the point where they’re my only source of income. I’ve had roadblocks, emergencies, tragedies and unforeseen circumstances pop up since the middle of November.
Every single one of them dealt a blow to my ability to maintain momentum, and developed momentum of their own, blasting me off course.
In the earlier parts of the Autumn, I would wake up each day with a clear picture of how my day would unfold. Sure, I would have things that needed to be done, but I knew what I was in for. I would need to drive my girlfriend to clinical or do laundry, drop off a rent payment or go grocery shopping. Nothing that would really get in the way of business or hitting the gym, but when unforeseen circumstances reared their head, they would often stop me dead in my tracks.
Tuesday was a great example, which I’ll break down.
I had my bucket for the day prepared. I was helping my parents with my sister’s discharge from the hospital, preparing food for the next few days, doing cardio, doing laundry, and returning to the gym for squats. If time allowed, I wanted to re-organize my living room (I absolutely love having a clean, well organized “home base”).
The most important item in the bucket for yesterday was helping my parents out, and incidentally, was to happen first chronologically. After waking up and preparing breakfast for my girlfriend and myself, I got a water bottle made up with BCAA’s, put in my contact lenses (this is relevant) and headed to the hospital.
This didn’t take long, as I sat down in the room, a nurse came in with discharge papers, and within a half hour, we had my sister in a wheelchair, ready to leave the hospital. However, my parents had asked me to follow them to their house (an hour away) to help bring my sister inside, move some furniture around, and get things in order. Not a problem. I wasn’t planning on this, but as my parents need my help, I was happy to do this. No big deal, I thought. I’ll shift things around a bit and still accomplish everything else I need to do.
Traffic was worse than I anticipated, and with a stop at Home Depot, an hour drive turned into two. We helped my sister inside, then set to work moving furniture and adapting the house to her return, all the time monitoring her activities (she is non-verbal autistic, and needs significantly more attention than an average person). By that point, I accepted their offer to stay for dinner, straightened out my basement workshop and spoke with some folks on Twitter (I had left my laptop at home, not anticipating a trip out to their house, thus was unable to spend this time working on a blog entry or business). Time was slipping away.
At about 7:00, dinner was still not ready, so I told them I would have to take a rain check, and I hit the road. My new plan was to stop at a “pay-n-spray” to wash the road salt off of my car on the way home. No big deal. I also ran out of BCAA at this point, and was in need of something to drink.
Washing my car took more time than I anticipated (of course) and I realized two things as I continued home. First of all, I’m hungrier than I thought I was, and second was that I could barely see what I was doing, as I have a lot of trouble driving at night with my contact lenses. My evening was starting to spin out of control, so I simply pulled over and re-evaluated things (again).
I couldn’t see very well, and I needed to eat. That much was apparent. Eye drops do nothing for me, and my glasses were at home. I had taken my spare glasses out of my car months earlier, as I had never needed them. On the food end, I had plenty of chicken, ground turkey, steak, eggs, ground beef at home, but I was starting to feel drained. I didn’t want to have to immediately start cooking when I got home, so I decided to stop at a local chain with some decent prepared foods.
With the food in my car, I continued the drive. My contacts were getting worse. I was cautious, and had to concentrate immensely on the normally-simple act of driving. Traffic wasn’t bad, but the other drivers on the Parkway were unpredictable and erratic. It was bad enough that I couldn’t see, but people were passing at 90 mph in the wrong lane, not signaling, and weaving through traffic. By the time I got home, I felt like my brain had been scrambled. I was mentally exhausted. I took my contacts out and ate my dinner after collapsing onto the couch.
I looked around.
I had done no laundry. My house was messier than I had remembered it being. I had a package of chicken breasts in the refrigerator that would be wasted if I didn’t cook it that night. On top of that, I was discouraged that the day had gotten out of control. And then my phone beeped. It was my workout partner, with a one-word text message: “Squats”
It was 9:44 PM. We meet to lift at 10:00, and my gym is fifteen minutes away.
Before doing anything else, before writing the day off, I took five minutes to assess the situation.
I had started off the day with average momentum, but a small and simple task had developed momentum of its own, pulling me off into unplanned events. Despite re-focusing and shifting my efforts, I could not “right the ship” so to speak. The day had gone completely off the rails, and driving home white-knuckled and almost blind with a growling stomach.
Momentum works both ways.
- On one hand, when your day is going better than planned, and you feel like you’re just tearing through everything you needed to accomplish, sometimes it’s almost difficult to shut yourself off. I’ve made the mistake of riding this momentum through the late evening, deep into the night. The next thing I knew, I would still be awake at 7:00 in the morning, my head racing with ideas for blog posts, business plans, or anything else that my million-mile-an-hour brain was churning up.
- On the other hand, Tuesday was a great example of the momentum shifting and taking on a life of its own. It’s like a downhill bike without brakes: Sure, you’re going to get to the bottom of the mountain, but you’re not going to be taking the best line to get there.
Taking five minutes to think about this and coming up with a reasonable plan for the rest of the evening became the most important five minutes in my day. I called my training partner. He was running late, so we agreed to meet at 10:15. Great. That left me ten minutes. Within that short span of time, I cleaned 75% of what I wanted to clean in my apartment (this is a huge benefit of having a small place and eliminating junk). I threw the chicken back in the freezer and got in my car, bound for the gym.
We pounded out one of the heaviest, fastest squat sessions I’ve ever completed (two days later, I’m still slathering Tiger Balm all over my quadriceps). When I got home, I was no longer defeated, but somewhat satisfied with the outcome of the day. I had been delivered a death blow, but managed to patch the sinking ship and get her back to the harbor.
- Momentum is yours to control. If you keep it headed in the right path, it’s an almost unstoppable force, and the “impossible” will happen.
- When life inevitably happens, have the tools with you, and the foresight to stop the momentum from shifting in an unwanted direction. I didn’t bring glasses, BCAA, my laptop, or food with me when I went to the hospital. I could have even brought my laundry with me. I didn’t have the foresight to ask my parents if I would be needed at their house, or simply realize that this was a logical possibility. Had I planned around this eventuality, I could have kept momentum going in the right direction.
- Always be in the moment. If you feel the momentum shifting, take time to stop, change your strategy, and re-focus your efforts instead of “going with the flow”. Know what you are doing, and do not drift. Have you ever, at the end of a day, thought “holy shit… what a day, I can’t believe it got that crazy”? This is a direct result of not controlling momentum, but being a plastic bag in the breeze, blown around in whatever direction the wind will take you. It is, frankly, exhausting and miserable.
Momentum can be your best friend or your worst enemy, it’s all in how you choose to view this invisible, intangible force. From a standpoint of being in control of it, or the opposite; denying its existence and allowing it to kick your ass all over the room.
As always, thanks for reading,