Happy New Year, y’all!
I know I’m pretty far behind, as the first whole week of January has already come and gone—and then some—but I’m always late, so why stop now?
I hope that your start to the new year has been amazing so far. Mine has been… a whirlwind actually. In a good way! But it has been so chaotic that I was on autopilot through the end of the year to the beginning of this year. I barely registered any of it, especially that we’re in a new year.
A new year. A new beginning. So many new possibilities.
I’m so excited already for this year, but I’m not completely finished with 2018.
In 2018, I learned many lessons that I’ll carry over into this year and beyond, but there’s one difficult lesson in particular that I want to share today: to stay focused on one big goal.
I started 2018 determined to compete in bodybuilding, the figure division.
I was convinced 2018 would be the year I finally stood on stage, dehydrated and ripped, and above all else – EMPOWERED.
That’s what weightlifting does for me – it makes me feel empowered. I’ve been weightlifting for over four years now, and I wanted to take it to the next level – to compete.
So for about three months in the beginning of 2018, I worked hard toward this goal, increasing weights, cardio, and meals. But I was barely writing. This other goal of mine required too much of my time and attention.
You see, competing isn’t just about carving out an hour of your day to work out and then going home until the next work out. No, no. You must always be prepared in every sense. Plan your workouts and meals and then execute. It’s on your brain 24/7.
And it was on mine for several months. I was doing cardio in the mornings, weightlifting in the afternoons, and cooking and eating meals in between. This all sounds tedious and awful to some, but to me, it was awesome. I loved it. I was strong and energetic, and I thought I could really do this. I could stand on a stage and be proud of how far I’d come along.
But I wasn’t writing.
In addition to trying to achieve another bucket list item, I was looking for a job in my spare time since I was unemployed. I was planning a wedding. I was trying to do it all, and I was trying to excel at it all.
So writing took a backseat for a long time, even though the fire never dwindled. I just redirected it to working out.
Then my focus started wandering again.
I found a job that required a lot of my time, focus, and energy. I got married and traveled that summer. I recommitted myself to my writing journey, which also took most of my time, focus, and energy.
My desire to compete was still there, though, so I continued making it a priority every day because I knew I could do it. I knew I could make it all happen for myself and reach all my goals. I made them all my priority.
I worked on my writing in the mornings, went to the office during the day, worked out for two hours in the evenings. This went on for several months, right up until December 2018.
I pushed myself, which took a toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It took a toll on my relationships. For several consecutive weeks at a time, I didn’t see friends or family, and if my husband hadn’t been working out with me, I never would’ve seen him, either.
In November, I started to think that maybe I couldn’t do it all.
The realization didn’t immediately sink in. I didn’t immediately want to accept that I am in fact only human.
But I was so close to finishing my manuscript, and I really wanted to focus on it because although competing had been a dream for a couple years, publishing a novel has been my dream for most of my life.
And I’m not saying that dreams can’t or don’t change. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t follow a new path if you so choose, but for me, my long-term dreams never changed.
I want to be an author.
That’s still true. Competing is not my long-term goal. It’s not the living I want to make down the road. Writing is. And I’ve let other things get in the way of that too many times. I’ve let too many distractions deter me.
So after many back and forths, careful considerations, some stubbornness on my part, I decided in December, a couple of weeks before the new year, to take a step back from my goal of competing.
I would go into 2019 with a determined, focused mindset to achieve my one true dream: writing.
It was hard to make this decision, to admit that I couldn’t do it all. To admit that working out that hard is exhausting. Seriously, I couldn’t stay up passed nine most nights because I was just so unbelievably tired. By that point every night, even using the minute amount of energy necessary to hold my eyelids open was too much for me.
I was always sore. My gosh, I was so sore that even sitting down was too painful, and my job and hobbies all required me to sit down, so that just wasn’t working for me.
Once I decided to take a step back and focus on my writing and myself, I instantly felt better. I still work out and still try to eat healthy because it makes me feel good living this balanced lifestyle instead of the extreme.
I cannot even begin to express the positive effects this has had on me and my well-being. But even so, there are still days that I regret not doing it. There are still days when I long to get on stage in a sparkling bikini with high heels and a big smile. There are still days when I don’t accept the decision I’ve made.
But then, I remind myself why I made it to begin with. When I sit down to write and work on my manuscript, during which I’m uplifted onto a soft cloud of peace and joy, there are no reminders necessary. The words flow more easily now that my mind is clear of ways to improve my #gains or how many different ways to squat there are. I’m comfortable sitting in a damn chair again! And that right there is a big deal.
I’m able to focus on just writing.
And that’s what I want. That’s the main goal.
Who knows, maybe one day I will pose on stage and show off my glute game. Where I’ll stand proudly as I go against social norms and beliefs that women can’t or shouldn’t be strong. Just because I’m not doing that now, doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t do it later.
It doesn’t mean I failed. That’s why it was so hard for me to accept that I needed to step back at first and focus on my one, true, all-consuming goal of writing – I didn’t want to admit defeat. But after a long, hard look in the mirror, I convinced myself it’s not me giving up. I still enjoy a workout every day, and I still have plans to compete, although it may be more difficult down the road. But it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It doesn’t mean I gave up completely.
I just turned my focus back to my original dream, the fire for which has never been stronger or brighter.
So for now, I write. I write and write and write. I write until I finally hold a paperback with my name on the front of it and my words on all the pages.
So as you continue in this new year, I challenge you to stop and take a hard look at your goals. Prioritize them and really be honest with yourself with how much time, focus, and energy your top, lifelong dream will require. I challenge you to cut out what other goals might keep you from achieving that one unicorn dream of yours. It’ll be hard. It might make you sick. You might feel like you failed.
But I promise you’ll feel lighter and better if you do. You’ll stop feeling so much like your goals are playing tug-of-war with you, pulling you from side to side.
Something has to give. Don’t let it be your sanity!
And don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you failed. It just means you redirected your focus to what’s most important, which then sets you up for success for the long haul.
Let’s have a successful 2019, you guys!