Tomorrow Is A Gift That We Earn Today: Mini Goals for The Win
It is time to prepare dinner. The day has been long and filled with too much screen time. Although there is still daylight, I am not motivated at all for a run – forty-five minutes and I will have earned my dinner. Typically, this makes me feel like a million bucks! But I have been bad at keeping to a training schedule lately. The words gnaw at me, “I will get to it tomorrow.”
I know that is bullshit.
The words have been on rinse and repeat for two weeks now.
Tomorrow never comes.
Guilt washes over me. Eventually, this turns into anxiety. I know in the back of my head that I am being lazy, and the procrastination will bite me in the ass. I hate that. But I do it anyway and justify my actions with some absurd explanation.
“I am falling behind, so I just need to put my head down. Everything else can wait.”
Who am I trying to convince that it is totally fine to neglect my health because work is more important? I know this is bad. But I do it anyway.
“I can double up tomorrow.”
This is like taking a double dose of medication because it was forgotten yesterday. I know this is ridiculous. But it makes me feel better, so I listen to my lame explanation anyway.
If I know that I am being unreasonably irresponsible and lazy, why do I do it?
We were sitting at the breakfast table the other day. Erik and I were gazing out of the window watching the birds at the feeder and the sky filling with sunlight from the noticeably earlier sunrise. We had a moment of bliss sitting silently admiring spring. I was resolved to admit at that moment that I was relieved for both of us. We made it out of the darkness – literally.
The darkest month in Sweden is November. Depending on where you live in the country, the sun is in the sky a total of three to fifteen hours for the month.
Yes, for the month.
The last place where I lived in the United States was Hawai‛i. During the longest night, December 21, we had about ten hours and fifty minutes of daylight. When I moved to Sweden, adjusting to the long nights was difficult. This year, I decided that it was going to be handled with a goal in mind – complete an ultramarathon in October 2021. This way, I can look forward to reaching the goal as well as to keep motivated throughout the months of training. Sounds like a good plan, no?
People often procrastinate on tasks which are associated with rewards that they will only receive a while after completing the task, since people tend to discount the value of rewards that are far in the future, a phenomenon known as temporal discounting or delay discounting.
solvingprocrastination.com – Why People Procrastinate: The Psychology and Causes of Procrastination
I spent most of my life as a coached athlete. From ballet to triathlon, I was expected to live by a schedule meant to develop machines. Being an athlete was mechanical. Missing a workout was not acceptable if I wanted to achieve the highest possible status in my sport. I lived, breathed, and dreamt discipline. Now, the exhausting thought of a forty-five-minute run feels like a daunting task. But I still have many months before October. I have time.
I know that delay discounting the value of now never works when I want to achieve a goal. This leaves one thing – I need to retrain my head to be a machine! My typical morning used to be this:
5:00AM – the alarm sounded.
5:30AM – hopped on my bike for a ten-minute commute to the pool.
5:45AM – jumped into the pool for a warm-up.
6:00AM – trained like a beast until 7:00AM.
This was just the first workout of the day. Discipline!
As Tim Pychyl, psychology professor and a member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa, puts it, "Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.”
www.inc.com – The Reason You Procrastinate Is Not What You Think: Being more disciplined is the wrong approach, according to psychologists
The problem, however, is not the lack of discipline. It is that I have become unhappy with the idea of training. I love the feeling of getting stronger and faster. But, lately, I like being lazy more.
Yes! Such a crazy thing to admit because my nickname is Bumblebee. I am always buzzing around. At times, I have too much energy for my own good. Erik checks my chocolate consumption past 7:00PM because I will end up painting the house with a fresh coat if given the chance in the middle of the night!
Digging deeper into the memories of my former athletic career, I recalled that mini goals in between the bigger ones helped with motivation. Therefore, I had A and B races lined up during the season. The B races were used to gauge physical fitness and mental preparedness. These races were as important as the A races. Without them, I would not have had the motivation to push harder to improve in time to race to the podium. This kind of approach applies to all goals. Even when it comes to traveling.
With a year and a half of Nordic winters under my belt, I can venture to say that November is looking like a good month to travel away from the darkness. Just like the ultramarathon, mini-interim goals need to be met. Being a digital nomad takes a lot of planning and budgeting. Although we are relegated to COVID-19 statutes, this does not mean that we cannot conduct small trips within Sweden. The joy that travel brings us also applies to guiding trips for others. What a better way to tackle two birds with one stone! Travel at home and share in the joy of travel.
I was sitting on the sand with guests from a kayak tour to Moku Nui, an islet in O‛ahu, Hawai‛i. One of the guests asked me if I ever got tired doing the same routes every day. I told her that although I have been to many countries, being home on the Hawai‛ian water presented a unique experience every time.
“She is a familiar friend with a different story every time we meet.”
Her stories motivated me to return with excitement and fresh eyes. These were my mini-travel excursions before it came time to head out again for another few months on the road – my big travel excursion.
One study showed that a four-day "long weekend" vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days. While the reduction in strain was greater for those who spent the vacation away from home, the other effects were similar for those who stayed home.
www.verywellmind.com – 5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad
When my home changed from Hawai‛i to Sweden, the notion of taking small trips close to home did not change. In fact, the frequency has increased because now I am experiencing more with my partner Erik. After many years of solo travel, I cherish the opportunity to share my joy of adventure with someone who enjoys it as much as I do. For this reason, we are both guiding the trips that are organized for Yahnny Bly & Co. and our sister company Nomado in Sweden.
Erik has led the charge with introducing surf skis to Sweden over fifteen years ago when he became the country’s first Epic Kayaks distributor. This endeavor grew to include kayak tours in Östergötland and Finnmark, Norway. Like Hawai‛i, I found that some locals do not venture far from their comfort zones because of concerns for safety or inexperience. What brings us joy is seeing the sense of achievement on the face a novice adventurer. The adventure itself has become a gateway or salve for other things in their lives – a mother who needed time for herself, a grieving spouse who recently lost a partner, a newcomer to outdoor adventure, a person who always felt like they were too afraid to try something new, a cancer survivor. These are only a few examples I heard throughout my career as a professional guide.
[Travel] allows us to more accurately understand the challenges people face around the world, outside our bubbles, and we must meet them, talk to them, and see the world through their eyes. It’s not only important for our own understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, it’s also vital to the future of our paradoxically connected yet disconnected modern world.
www.bbc.com – How Vacations Can Affect Your Stress Levels
About three years ago, I was trekking with guests, a husband and wife from Australia. We treaded carefully until we reached the top where we rested with sweet pineapple chunks and fresh water. In front of us was the majestic Ko‛olau Mountain Ridge and the omnipotent presence of the Pacific Ocean. We looked at each other in silence but with smiles that spoke of satisfaction and awe. As we trekked back down to sea level, my guests told me that they never saw colors so vibrant and was thankful for the unforgettable moment. A trek that was part of my repertoire became a precious part of their lives. In turn, I expressed my gratitude to them because they opened my eyes to the beauty that was and is still my home at heart. Until this day, we still are in contact and forever connected from that experience. I will never forget them along with every guest who has affected me in such a visceral and spiritual way. This is what travel can do to a person even when it is the person who is doing the guiding.
Honestly, I wrote this piece for my readers but deep down inside, I think I wrote this as reminder to myself.
Today, I must run for forty-five minutes. It has been a long day.
Tomorrow is a gift that we earn today.
I will go for that run after all.
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