Training for this Ironman fits into the category of “goals.” Goals, I was told throughout my youth, are integral to success. Having a plan and sticking with it until completion will provide structure and a sense of achievement in life. A quick google search of “why goals are important” informed me that setting goals will focus my acquisition of skills and organize my time and resources so that I can make the very most of my life. There’s a Lululemon shopping bag beside me instructing me to write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years. Apparently I should do this four times per year because goal-setting will trigger my subconscious computer. We’re a goal-setting and achievement-oriented society. Paradoxically, at the yoga studio, I’m repeatedly told to embrace the present and focus on the moment.
So how to find the balance between setting goals and enjoying the present moment?
There’s no way to plan or know what’s going to happen. No amount of goal setting has any bearing on the future. The only absolute truth is the present moment. But I’m not convinced that these statements should preclude steps towards achieving a goal. Even though some goals are overwhelming at first (finishing a doctoral degree, saving for a house down payment, writing a novel, training for an Ironman), the process consists of present moments.
As I embark on this Ironman training, I recall my success in a triathlon and half Ironman in 2015. Certainly, those goals were lofty at the time and I remember some mornings being overwhelmed with training logistics. I would wake up, check my training plan and have to prepare for two workouts in different disciplines (a swim and a bike, for example, or a run followed by a bike). I would find myself panicking that I’d forget my swim goggles and be unable to complete the workout. I worried that I wouldn’t fit in the workouts plus do my full-time job plus my part-time job plus see my friends plus do laundry plus look after my brand new puppy plus make dinner plus work on my masters thesis. Yes, when viewed like that, it was physically and emotionally overwhelming. However I noticed that if I changed my perspective and viewed the goal in manageable portions and asked “what can I do right now to achieve the goal,” then the entire project was not so overwhelming.
The process of accomplishing goals is achieved through engagement in a series of moments. Today, I biked 75 minutes. Yesterday, I ran 60 minutes. Together, these minutes in the day add up to “training” and, done often enough, will get me over the finish line in an Ironman.