I’m turning 40 this fall, and as I’ve talked to my friends all reaching this “City Slickers” mid-life crisis age, I came to realize there is a theme to the chatter. Despite the blessings so many of us are surrounded by and truly appreciate, there are universal questions being asked. Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Is this really the path I’m supposed to be on? Why don’t I feel inspired, fulfilled, or excited to get out of bed in the morning? What happened to those big dreams we all talked about after high school, did I settle? Is the fun over?
Ironically it’s the same questions I hear from my athletes, and my fellow coaches out there. Am I doing this right? Why don’t I feel more fulfilled and less beat down? What happened to that vision I had of success and winning and high fives? I know this is important, why am I struggling so much? These are questions that we all face when we reach a crossroads, get settled without growth, or become pressed to change but feel stuck and unable to do so. It’s the questions we ask because we feel we are tied to our circumstance, rather than empowered to write the life we choose.
My mid-life crisis came a few years early, in my mid thirties. It was more of a possible life-ending crisis that woke me up. I didn’t want to left life happen to me anymore. I wanted to start building something. I began to re-write and re-wire my thinking, behavior, and learn to create my perceptions and daily decisions. I didn’t have time to be in a rut, I didn’t know if I had any time at all. Of course the truth is, none of us know if we have time and how much.
I’ve found three areas in my daily life that can drastically affect my state of mind, my state of productivity, my level of happiness, my perspective, and ability to share my talents and accomplish new things. When disconnects form in any of these areas, I feel myself sliding into that rut. Only reconnecting with all three has successfully pulled me back out.
1. Daily renewal of Faith, what I believe, my core, my center
2. Taking care of my body and my mind (exercise, food, reading/watching/mentoring/journaling info that makes me grow)
3. Sharing something that fills me with energy with someone else. Talking about something that makes me light up gets me back into that mindset daily
I can hobble along for a short while with one of those missing, maybe even two, but without fail – eventually my priorities, my feelings, ability to function will begin to deteriorate. Reconnecting all three has been the only path back. Ever start eating junk food for too long only to realize you don’t feel like exercising anymore either? Low energy levels and sluggishness sets in, then the guilt. Motivation to grow your mind, or build your faith and core values drops down because you know you aren’t treating yourself well. It’s a cycle that’s rarely broken without purposeful action.
After my embolism I made a new path for myself based on this simple concept.
Love it, be passionate about it, have a purpose to it, and grow with it – OR DON’T DO IT.
I take this into everything I do now. That includes coaching; it includes what I expect from my athletes, my staff, my athlete’s parents. It includes decisions about where to live, what jobs to accept, what commitments I make, where I spend my time.
Sometimes we have to take that place where we are right now, until we can make changes, and we have to grasp that ideal in any way that we can. All circumstances cannot be immediately changed, but our perception and our choices with what to do inside those can be changed in an instant. A difficult boss or co-worker, a nasty commute, low pay, too many hours, frustrations everywhere can be hard to overcome; especially if it’s been going on to the point of breaking. For coaches it might be an AD, parent, player, hidden agendas, power struggles, or lack of support. Maybe you’re not struggling but you’re coasting, not growing, not excited anymore. Maybe it’s just a rut.
Take that place where you are, uncomfortable or not, and incorporate time for activities that reconnect with your 3 points every day. Faith, Body/Mind, and Sharing Energy
Then make a list. Write down one thing that:
- you love about it (or used to love about it)
- makes you passionate about it (or could, or used too if you focused on it)
- Gives you purpose when you do it well – why did you sign up for this in the first place? What’s buried under the disappointment.
- You can grow from this experience while you’re in it
Now, write down a second list. How can you use a negative to work on each of the above goals?
For example: that commute time is causing major stress, download some inspiring personal growth audiobooks to listen to on the way home or record a voice memo journal, learn a new language, learn a skill that will help you at work, record messages for your kids or spouse to listen too at the end of the month or write that book you’ve always wanted to write by speaking it and recording it.
Example: Difficult parent and power struggle – nothing will help you grow like learning to mend relationships, build a support team, and find common goals. Every difficult parent I’ve encountered has taught me more about how people interact and how to be more compassionate, understanding, patient, firm in my beliefs and balancing my philosophy with conflict.
This is an exercise your athletes can do with you. Many of our kids are lacking coping skills for things that are difficult and because of that, many of them shut down when they feel things aren’t going their way or making them happy. Give them back the driver seat. Help them build the tools they need to find their passion, excitement, and purpose.
This has been such an incredible journey for me in finding my passion and my path, that I’m working on an athlete workbook to help our players reframe their mindset, be empowered to rebuild their mental framework, write their own story, find the purpose and the passion behind the competition, grind, practice, sweat, and relationships. So many of our athletes are lacking coping skills, grit, and vision. As coaches we have the ability to help them learn how to do this for themselves.
It’s not just about being ALL IN, forcing a commitment because you said you would. Don’t just be committed to something. The world is full of people who are simply committed to things for the sake of keeping a commitment, but with no passion or purpose in their task who are miserable – Find a way to Love it or Leave it