Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.
Those first few days and weeks of when we set ourselves on a path towards a new goal are remarkably bittersweet. On one hand we are enthralled and exulted with a powerful new sense of direction. We have that shiny objective fixed squarely in our sights, and it’s far enough away that we sense the chasm of time between then and now will allow us the time necessary to put in the required work to achieve it.
But on the other hand, when we are taking those first few steps we generally aren’t very good. In fact, depending on where we are at – beginning of the season comes to mind – we might fully suck. So although we are fired up about where we want to be, where we are presently doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.
Here’s a salty part of success that doesn’t get enough attention: No matter how grand your goals, the process will suck some of the time.
Understanding this is one of the drivers that demonstrates how willing we are to handle the tough patches and setbacks that inevitably arise.
The Sacrifice-Free Myth
Big time success requires sacrifice. The S-word has gotten a bad rap lately. Modern culture and media demonstrate that we can have our cake and eat it too. Common ad headlines such as the following should immediately come to mind: “Lose 25 pounds in 6 weeks eating whatever you want!” or “Get a six-pack without having to go to the gym!”
We are being told that we can have the best of both worlds. We can satisfy those short term pleasure drivers (eating McDonalds three times a day) while also getting the long term goals we want (excellent health, a six pack).
Don’t buy into this myth.
Anything worth achieving comes with a corresponding amount of sacrifice. Generally speaking the bigger the goals, the harder you will have to work, the more you will sacrifice.
If you want to crush your best time but you aren’t willing to show up to every workout it’s probably not going to happen. If you want to beat a long-standing age group record, but you aren’t willing to go above and beyond in training, then your odds of success decrease at a nearly hysterical rate. If you want to make the Olympic team, but don’t believe you have to live the lifestyle of a 24/7 athlete to do so, then I have some bad news for you.
Defining What Sacrifice Is — And Isn’t
Let’s consider what the word sacrifice actually means. It doesn’t mean giving up something for nothing – even though for many people that’s the knee jerk definition that comes to mind.
If anything, it is the opposite. We aren’t giving up something we want for something we don’t want. We are giving up one thing in order to gain something greater.
The hard part about sacrifice is giving up the short term pleasure of something (staying out late with friends when you have morning workout) for the long term pleasure of something else (having a great workout that will lend itself to achieving your goals down the road).
When some swimmers see what would be required of them to be successful they balk. They stall. They can’t imagine themselves being comfortable with the sacrifices needed to swim to the outer reaches of their ability. And believe it or not – that’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. Being uber-successful in the pool is weird. It’s unconventional, and it requires going against the current.
What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?
Instead of listing the things you have to do to achieve your goals, write out the list of things that you are willing to endure, to suffer, and to sacrifice in order to punch your goals in the face:
- Will you eat a well balanced meal instead of mowing down convenience food?
- Will you stick through the workouts where your stroke feels off and your muscles and lungs ache?
- Will you show up to morning workout even though that bed of yours is calling out to you?
- Will you spend an extra ten minutes foam rolling after practice if it means recovering faster?
- Will you pass on a night out with your friends because you have a mammoth workout in the morning?
- Will you give up watching TV mid-week so that you can get your homework done and get the sleep you need to recover?
- Will you give up the temporary comfort to gain permanent success in the pool?
It’s easy to say what we are willing to do to achieve our goals, but take it a step further and think about you are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals. Consider the questions above, think on the answers, and ask yourself if you are truly prepared to do what is necessary to achieve greatness in the water.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.
NEW: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.