“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
They say the greatest joy in life is to be able to live your passion every day, and I only had to look to my teens to remember that what I had always enjoyed doing most—working out. That’s where I wanted to go in life.
Held hostage by worries about the future, status, and money, I decided to head on a different path. I did well in college, graduating with a business degree and a double major in finance and accounting.
A few years later, it was clear that something was off. So last year, I made the big decision to pursue my passion in fitness by becoming a certified personal trainer. The start of the year was full of energy and joy. I was glad that I had finally found my direction, something that I wholeheartedly wanted to do.
I was a man on a mission. By the end of August, I had accomplished my task by taking all the exams and passing the instructor competency evaluation.
Whew, I thought.
All I had to do now was wait for a letter of approval and a wallet card to make it official.
But, what was supposed to take a few weeks ended up taking more than two months. This was the kink in my momentum.
Before I ran into this speed bump, I had everything all carefully and strategically planned out. After I became an accredited personal trainer, it would be “go” time.
Then, while waiting for my accreditation to come through, I felt stuck. I couldn’t start taking clients. I just waited. And with extra time on my hands, I started to think.
This thinking was good at first; I laid out my plans and business strategically. But the more I thought about my personal training business, the more I started to worry.
My worries soon manifested into fear and doubt. I started to feel sick, both inside and out. It wasn’t long before the slow days gave way to questions. Did I give up pursuing a career in the finance industry for this? Was this all a mistake?
My worries started to bloom one after another, like desert flower after the rain, except there was no beauty in this.
On the one hand, it’s a great thing to discover what it is we love and go forth to do it, but on the other hand, I saw people trying to pursue their passions and failing all around me.
What if it was just a pipe dream? My hopes and ambition, strong at the beginning of the year, had paved the way for fear and stress. I was misdirecting all my energy to worrying, and my enthusiasm was waning away.
For the next few months, I fought a silent war with myself.
I already had all the tools and knowledge to be a great trainer. My genuine sincerity and passion toward fitness and my willingness to help others were undeniable. But worrying was getting in the way of me starting and growing my personal training practice.
When I came to this realization, I knew I had to get my motivation back to move forward.
I realized this around New Year’s, as I thought about what made the difference between the people who can get up and get healthy and the people who set resolutions and never make it.
I had let myself become a part of the latter group because of my worrying. Focusing solely on outcomes is a sure path to failure, because we see all the people who couldn’t do it, and talk ourselves out of our own ambitions.
I was practicing some routines on my girlfriend, who wanted to become more fit. As someone who is usually focused and able to achieve what she wants, she had a hard time sticking to an exercise routine. Why?
She said she wanted to be fit, but the path to get there, in her eyes, was just too hard. And then I asked her why it was so hard. She said, “Well technically, it’s not that it’s hard. I can do things if they’re hard if I want to do them. It’s just that I don’t enjoy it.”
Enthusiasm breeds progress. If you enjoy it, you’re that much more likely to stick with it.
I let go of the traditional routine I had planned and told her simply to start with something she already liked to do. And with the other things, we figured out how to make those things fun for her. As someone who never stuck to an exercise routine before, she is now finally doing it.
When I saw that, I was finally able to take myself out of my slump. I could see that worrying about outcomes was inhibiting my ability to move forward.
Now, it doesn’t mean that I’m unrealistic. I know it’ll take hard work and time. But I’m realistic about the fact that if we truly enjoy doing something, we are that much more likely to succeed at it. And if we worry, we suck the joy out of it and paralyze ourselves.
Here are a few things I learned:
1. Stop worrying.
Quench your ember of worries before it becomes a wildfire and causes you real harm. What is now only a thought will become more if you keep focusing on it. By thinking I was going to fail, I stopped trying. When I stop trying, I fail by default.
2. Take action.
Worrying breeds more worrying. You need to address your worries. Find the root cause and figure out what actions you need to be taking in order to move forward.
3. Keep the fire going.
When in doubt, remember the why. I had lost sight of the reason why I decided to pursue fitness: I simply loved it, and I knew that it was something that I could help people with.
When we focus on what we love to do, we worry less simply because we are in a state of joy. And when we worry less, we are free to take action.
And along the same veins, if it’s not something you already love, find some way to make it fun and enjoyable, instead of allowing the outcome to be the only motivator.
I stopped worrying about whether or not my personal training business would fail. I stopped worrying that I may have made the “wrong” career move. I stopped worrying about being the best personal trainer.
Instead, I went to the library and read books on building a personal training business. I searched and found someone with 25 years of experience in the fitness industry to provide me with mentorship. I accepted that I was new and it was going to take some time. All these activities were fun for me; I had found my groove again.
When I focused on the natural lifelong enthusiasm I had for fitness, and fixated on that instead of the fear, I was able to detach myself from it to move forward.
Today I am one step closer than I was yesterday, and tomorrow I’ll be one step closer than today—enjoying the moments and feeling grateful that I have the opportunity to work toward my dream, instead of questioning it.
When these worries arise now—Do I have what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur? Am I good enough? Will I make a living? Can I? And most of all, did I make the wrong choice?—I remind myself that it is never wrong if it brings joy.
If we focus on that, every action we take is exponentially more powerful than one taken full of worry and fear.
Photo by ClickE