My 5 Tips for Becoming a Self-Starter
When I was training for skating, my life was like a never-ending cycle of eat, skate, sleep, and repeat. I was a competitive athlete for 22 years of my life, and I learned to work simply because I HAD to, not because I wanted to. After my competitive career slowed down, and I wasn’t training every single day, I had the opportunity to get to know myself and what I was really like beyond the confines of my regimen and schedule. Spoiler alert: I discovered that I am lazy AF. Of course, coming off of more than two decades of rigorous work with little to no vacation time might explain a lot about the lack of motivation that I was feeling. Either way, the world kept spinning and I found myself in a position where I had to move forward, with no idea how to do that. I had to learn how to become a self-starter at the age of 27. Let me tell you, having to move forward with no idea how to do that is TERRIFYING. So, long story short, thank god you are here. I’m going to teach you how to get your shit done.
1: Self Care
One thing I all too often wrote off as an athlete was self-care. I was always so focused on what I was doing for my physical self that I really let the mental and emotional side of my life slide. Let me paint a picture for you. Have you seen that meme with the dog that is sitting in a room that’s on fire and he says “everything is fine”? THAT WAS ME. My life was on fire and I was prioritizing my physical fitness above all else. I gave little to no credit to the importance of mental and emotional health. I eventually got so unbalanced that any new task in my life just felt so overwhelming. I avoided challenges because I felt like I lacked the skills entirely to take them on. I wasn’t able to really be able to wrap my mind around the idea of getting started with something new until I started prioritizing myself above all else. I started setting time aside in the day to meditate, to get off of my phone and just be present in the moment. I largely got off of any form of social media that felt negative to me. I started going to therapy. I made time in my life for myself and my own happiness, so that I could get back to this sense of self that I felt was so off center. Get yourself back to a balanced place so that you can attack all new things coming your way.
2: Discover the Problem
Identify what is actually holding you back, fear? Laziness? In a gentle and nonjudgmental way, try to really get to the bottom of what is keeping you from starting something in your life. Do you keep on saying you’re going to get to that 12:15 cycle class and you never seem to make it? Why is that? Are you afraid of trying something new? Are you just too exhausted? Chances are, the reasons holding you back from doing something different are usually not all that convincing. If you have an idea of what you are up against within yourself, it’s a lot easier to identify the problem and create a solution to get started. I never went to fitness classes because I have this overwhelming anxiety about putting myself into unfamiliar social situations. I eventually decided that in order to get past that, I would have to gain experience within the one thing I really feared, and the only way to do that was to lace up and get myself to spin class!
Chances are, someone you know has been in a similar situation to the one you find yourself in. Reach out, talk to people, use your resources! When I was thinking about finishing up my competitive career and moving on with my life, I reached out to a lot of my friends within the skating community who had retired. I found that everyone had their own approach to life after skating, and I was given a plethora of advice. I learned what worked for some people, I talked with them about the struggles that I would eventually face starting something new, so I felt prepared. I created a community around myself so that I didn’t feel like I was taking this all on alone. It was extremely empowering to find that so many athletes had felt the same fear that I had. Everyone felt overwhelmed. I listened, and I was able to gain perspective to take on life in a way that I wouldn’t had known to if I didn’t communicate. Everyone has been there, you will be surprised by how many people in your life have found themselves in similar shoes.
This one I am stealing from skating. Plan your life. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT just have one big goal. That is actually insane. You do not write down that you want to become Olympic champion and then just become Olympic champion. You decide the end goal and then work backwards. What are the steps to getting to that large overarching goal, how are you going to get there? What day to day actions need to be taken? Write out a plan with small attainable goals along the way, and then all of a sudden it all seems really manageable and less intimidating!
5: Allow Yourself to be Excited
This one is self-explanatory. I feel like a lot of people don’t start things because they worry about the perspective of others. WHO CARES? Do things that make you feel happy and full. Let yourself lean into your dreams. Be smart, be prepared, but only worry about what makes you feel excited and alive. Life is too short to be concerned about the opinions of others. Allow yourself to feel excited about things, and never let anyone hold you back from what makes you feel like you are really living. You will never regret getting started, and you might just surprise yourself with how capable you really are!
Those are my five tried and true practices that helped me get started with new things in my life. Take your time and be patient with yourself, but hold yourself accountable. Now go get your shit done.