Trying to make Lemonade
Posted on January 04 2021
This past year was a doozy, wasn’t it? Whether you see it in yourself or not, you are tough as nails for having made it through the now-infamous 2020. You took what life threw at you and you made the most delicious lemonade.
But “making lemonade” is draining. At a certain point, it would be nice for things to fall into place without tons of finagling, adjusting, and reconfiguring in order to eek out a feeling of accomplishment.
We all had our share of disappointment in 2020 - it was inevitable. Whether it was every single race getting cancelled, lack of social contact, or injury and illness, it’s fair to say each and every one of us had our challenges.
Now, though, it’s 2021. It’s time to look ahead with gumption and faith that very soon, things will begin to look up. It’s time to start picking up the pieces and making a beautiful mosaic from the experiences of the past year.
That's why we reached out to Jenny Hayes to get some input. Jenny is a five-year veteran of the Coeur Ambassador Team and also a life coach with eight years of expertise. Oh yeah, and she’s an Ironman finisher, too.
Hayes works to help people achieve goals “beyond their wildest imaginations” through strategic planning, mental training, and coaching that spans sport, life, and nutrition.
“I believe what we feed our minds, what we feed our bodies, how we train, what our life looks like from an interpersonal and financial perspective - it all has spillover into other areas of life,” said Hayes. “I work with each athlete and person from a very holistic perspective.”
In this case, Hayes is providing us with a look at how to take the heartache and disappointment of a dynamic year and reframe that energy to poise us for positivity and motivation in 2021.
“At the core of a lot of our struggles this past year,” said Hayes. “Is that most of us are struggling with our identity - who are we if not an athlete who races X number of times or at X race each year? How do we reconnect with who we are?”
Mic drop. Yes, at the nucleus of so much of the strain of 2020 has been staying true to ourselves as one by one, the things we looked forward to were no more.
There is hope, and it is accessible.
One point that Hayes drives home is that the athletes who are doing well are the “ones who are asking for help.” To rebuild our dreams and motivations successfully, it helps to lean on others for support, honesty, and outside perspectives.
To start shaking off the cobwebs and brain fog, Hayes suggests journaling.
“I’m really big on journaling,” noted Hayes. “A prompt I personally use is: ‘How has the past year happened for me?’ not, ‘How has the past year happened to me?’”
In this prompt, you’ll start to move out of a victim mindset (i.e. things only happening to you) and into a proactive, ownership mindset (i.e. things happening for you). To begin, write down all the things you are grieving this year. It could be anything from a favorite restaurant shuttering its doors to a missed family reunion to being angry about a workout. Write it down. Feel the catharsis.
Then, put to paper all the good that happened for you. Maybe you have a renewed appreciation for swimming due to increased pool closures. Perhaps you now view cooking as a soothing activity instead of a rushed necessity. The small and the large - get it all down. Smile as you do this.
This activity helps you establish values and clarity for then formulating actionable, measurable goals for the upcoming year.
Goals like aiming for a new PR at a 5K, meditating for a few minutes each day, signing up for a race that scares you. These are all process-oriented goals that encourage you to then design a values-based method to achieve them, like regular training or obtaining coaching.
“When you think about how you’ve already shown up for yourself during a pandemic,” said Hayes. “Then you know that by the time you reach that next start line, you won’t let yourself down. You know how to show up for yourself.”
There’s still a bit more grunting and grinding to be done before we’re totally in the clear. And to continue to show up for ourselves, it’s key to acknowledge that we aren’t in control.
“If there’s anything this past year has taught us, it’s that we’re not in control,” said Hayes. “We need to practice surrendering and being okay with that - and that’s hard as mostly Type A triathletes.”
What we are in control of, Hayes commented, is our reaction to what’s happening around us.
What we focus on expands. If we only focus on negativity, eventually its insidiousness creeps into every aspect of our lives. If we place our energy on finding the positive (even if it’s really teeny tiny, like savoring a delicious bite of food), then that will be the driving force behind our thoughts. It’s not an easy practice, but it is a worthwhile one.
This year hasn’t been easy. Things won’t be “easy” for a while. You are not, though, trapped nor defined by the current circumstances.
“Take what I call a sacred pause,” said Hayes. “Ask yourself: ‘Who am I? What do I want? Have my goals changed?’ and be okay with where you are now and with the fact that your goals and your identity may have changed over the past 12 months. That’s okay.”
The takeaway here is to be courageous in acknowledging the hardships of the past year without letting them place you into a mental box. Go after the things that light up your heart, mind, and body, even if those adventures are different than what they ever would have been before.
And know that if you ever need a little bit of help, the Coeur Community has your back. Here’s to a bright 2021.
Your Friends at Coeur
About the Author
Kristin is a part-time writer and full-time marketer who has completed eight Ironman races to date. When she isn't hustling from work to training, she is hiking in the Colorado mountains, spoiling her two cats, or chowing down on some pizza with her husband. Kristin currently resides in the Greater Denver Area. Feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.