Developing the right habits one opportunity at a time

By Shanta Crichlow

Life as an athlete is filled with ups and downs. Some days you feel on top of the world – you feel good, your body feels good, and you can’t quite explain it. You even feel good about going to practice. But then there are other days when your body is in pain, your legs feel heavy and your mind is mulling over the suffering you are about to endure. Far from your mind are the objectives you’re about to accomplish. Bottom line, you are dreading going to practice.

Now, an athlete has a few choices on those days when he doesn’t quite feel “up to the task”. He could make up an excuse for his coach, agent, and manager and opt to skip practice. He could convince himself that he is talented enough and doesn’t need to practice so long as he executes in the game. Or, he could show up for practice, remind himself why he is there and what he intends to achieve; he can make the most of his workout.

I’ve had my fair share of practice days on which I didn’t feel up to the task. To be honest, there were more days that I dreaded practice than days I looked forward to it. I valued my practice time; I knew how important it was. Yet, I still had to battle mind games, the phantom aches and pains, and thoughts of running away never to put myself through such physical anguish again. But I stayed. I didn’t run away from practice on those days; I ran through it. And, I have to admit, it felt so good to get through those days. Not only did I move closer to my goals rather than stepping backward, I literally felt enhanced on a personal level.

This can be a difficult principle to apply in life Beyond Athletics. Some of us live with the procrastination bug and its best buddy, Laziness, constantly lurking at our side. Any given day there is something…anything that we just don’t want to do. Some tasks may not require perfection; it’s just a matter of getting it done. Some responsibilities require more care, effort, and excellence…and we have to get it done.

Assignments for a job or paying clients can be easier to complete. An individual on the other end of our outputs provides accountability; there are consequences for not following through on a commitment and there’s typically an established deadline. More challenging, however, is working on extracurricular activities. Those could be as personal as keeping the house clean or that special long-term passion project that will allow you to quit your day job and have the life you always dreamed of.  How does one muster the energy and discipline to also work on those?

There are as many methods for taking action, motivating oneself and getting inspired as there are types of personalities in our world. I’ve heard of people giving themselves f a countdown – five…four…three…two. I’ve heard of not giving yourself time to think about it, just do it. Each of us needs to find that life-hack that works for us individually and do it. Sometimes just wanting something is not enough to get us up and moving again. There will always be tasks that we don’t want to do even when working on our dream. There are days when you give the last of your energy and there is still more to be done. The best strategy I’ve found for those days we just don’t feel like doing it is: to do it anyway, do it quickly and get it over with.

Living this life with God comes with many opportunities to execute on things we don’t necessarily want to do. But, as Jesus admonished his disciples when He returned to find them sleeping after asking them to stay up and pray, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” From loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44) to doing everything without grumbling or arguing (Philippians 2:14); from praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) (or praying all) to abiding in Him (John 15:4), the faith journey is an invitation to live a cut above the rest in spirit. To be completely honest, we’re not always goanna wanna do it. But let’s not grow weary in well-doing (Galatians 6:9). We can press on toward the goal to win the prize (Philippians 3:14), because the joy of the Lord is our strength (Psalm 28:7). We can do the good God desires from us even on the days we don’t feel up to it.

At the end of the day, this concept boils down to nurturing our habits. Our actions or the lack thereof is either enforcing a desired habit or allowing an adverse one. I firmly believe that executing well on responsibilities (emphasis on “well”) especially on days we don’t feel like doing them, gives us a second level of accomplishment that transcends the completion of the task alone. We take control of our mind and destiny rather than letting misleading thoughts and feelings obstruct us. That’s empowering. The mission is to do what needs to be done. So, on Those Days You Don’t Feel Like It…Do It!
    1. What is the number one task that you struggle to complete?

    2. What strategy do you use to make yourself tackle those undesirable tasks that must get done?

    3. Describe your experience (thoughts and emotions) the moments immediately after completing a daunting task.
Leave your comments below and continue this journey with me. We’ll harness insight from the sports we know, love, and play and implement them in life beyond athletics. We’re all still going pro even if it’s not in our sport.



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