Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lowering the Bar

You know, sometimes it amazes me how long it takes for something to get through my thick skull. Each morning I wake up, spring out of bed (yes I am one of those morning people), and assume that everything I attempt to do will just happen. I will be able to do it. No doubt. Easy.

And then I actually set out to do these things and am shocked - SHOCKED! - when it isn't quite that easy.

Case in point: who was it that said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? I should have thought of that before I took another charge at my hurdle and crashed into it. Again. And again. It turns out that determination doesn't directly translate into ability.

So I decided to change the rules. I brought my hurdle to my husband and said, "fix this." If I couldn't jump over the hurdle just by trying over and over again, I would jump over it by making it shorter. Eleven inches shorter, to be exact. He hemmed and hawed over whether I was taking too much off, but I was firm. Cut this sucker down.

The next day, I set up my new trainer-wheel hurdle and sailed over it time and time again. I was a running and leaping fool, having a great time. It felt so good to accomplish something -- even if it was a watered-down something -- after so many failed attempts.

That was a week ago. So, this week I am off to Lowe's to get some more PVC do-hickeys. I'll raise it three inches and go for another week. Then, raise it again. Lather, rinse, repeat, until I can clear it at regulation height. By my calculations I should meet this goal exactly one week after my fitness challenge in November. :)

I'm not good at adjusting my expectations, of others or of myself. I feel that each of us has an obligation to give every day our best shot at being incredible. If you're not doing that, then what are you doing? Resting? For what? More nothing? Last week I bemoaned my new training schedule, which allows for more rest and rehabilitation between workouts. I felt like a slacker, I felt lame. I heard myself say, "I just enjoy life more when I am exhausted," and felt everyone in the gym turn and look at me with incredulous expressions on their faces. But I stand by that - I feel best when I am used up, worn out, completely spent. I give every day my best shot at being incredible, and if I have energy left at the end of the day, I don't really feel like I have done that.

I know. There is medication for people like me.

But training for my hurdles with a "you will submit to me" mentality was not being incredible. It was being stupid. So, I grit my teeth and took the advice of that wise old sage, Bart Simpson: when in doubt, lower your expectations. And yes, I do realize this is the second week in a row that I have quoted Bart Simpson.

I hated lowering the bar, but I have to admit...jumping over that hurdle, however low, felt pretty incredible. I look forward to the day when I can clear it without training wheels, but for now I am content to lower my expectations.

For now.


Michael said...

Ahhh, the soft bigotry of low expectations. Haha-just kidding. Of course goals have to be attainable-you would not expect your child to run a 9 second 100 meter race would you? It is similar to rehab and 12 steps, achieve a little bit at a time and then move to the next step. When I first started working out at BT, I could barely do 5 push-ups-My goal was to make 10, not 20. By gradually upping my expectations I am now able, as I did this morning, to do three sets of 20 good form push-ups in the midst of Captain Awesome's super set he devised for me today. But if I had tried to do 20 a year ago, I probably would have quit working out altogether.
Just think how low G. Bush's rating would have been if people had higher expectations of him- he excelled at setting the bar so low he was not expected to do much.
So-set reasonable attainable goals and life is more satisfying-and also-write them down! How is that for a disjointed message?

Debra Bonson said...

Can you be my life coach?! Seriously I need a good dose of Heather in my life... You go girl... and you WILL make those hurdles when you need to!