The new year is upon us and despite being only two weeks in I wonder how many have already broken our resolutions. On the 1st January, your intentions were good and your resolve was strong but now, when work has started back and the holidays are long over, have you drifted back into your old lifestyle? No-one said it would be easy. Making lifestyle changes is tough.
This year I did not make any resolutions. I was at an athletics talk roughly ten years ago as a junior and the guest speaker was talking about success, about how to get to where you want in life. I don’t remember the speaker’s name but I remember clearly two things he said; ‘Dead fish go with the flow’ and ‘If you know what you want, why wait? Go, get it now.’ I made my resolution last April when I decided that I wanted to be a full time athlete. That I was ready to commit everything, my very being, to see how far I could get in this sport. I have a plan to get to where I want. I was tired of waiting around, going to work every day, with the intrinsic belief that I had the potential to be successful in running, if only I had the opportunity. It was then that I realised that opportunities in this life very rarely present themselves. If you want something, you usually have to go out and take it. You have to make the opportunity. No-one else can, it’s up to you. Otherwise you might wake up tomorrow and realise that the opportunities of today have already gone. And so, with that in mind, I put the steps in place that come August I would be able to take a career break from the medicine and follow my athletics dream.
Recently, one of my teacher friends asked me to give a talk to a group of her 6th form pupils in school. With medicine you become quite comfortable giving presentations to large groups of people but this would be quite different. In work, as long as you impart the subject matter to the audience, your presentation will, at least, be of some benefit. But talking to teenagers, to attempt to motivate and inspire others is a skill in itself. And as I was standing there telling them the steps I believe are required to be successful in this life (working hard, sacrifice, being ready to accept failure and challenging yourself, in case you’re wondering) I found myself reflecting back upon my five months so far as a professional athlete. This is my life, my job and maybe it was my recent poor performance in the European Cross Country but I started questioning the training I’d be doing. And what I realised is that while I was getting the miles done, being relatively healthy with my diet and going to the gym I wasn’t committing myself 100% to the job. Maybe the poor run was the bad flu I had had the previous week or maybe that’s just an excuse I’m trying to convince myself with. Either way, we are here now in the middle of January, the distractions of the Christmas period are over and I am ready for the seven months of hard work ahead to achieve my goals for the year. I’m a fitter, faster, more rounded athlete than I’ve ever been before and despite having only started indoor training, already I’m looking forward to my first race.
So my advice for this month is that while you may have already slipped off your New Year’s plan, don’t worry. Failing is natural in this life. Accept that it’s happened, ask yourself why and then start again. Sometimes to achieve what you want in life you have to strike out on your own, you have to forge your own path, you have to break free from all the dead fish. Good luck and may 2014 bring you all the happiness and success that you desire.