When I left you last week, Kathleen was in pursuit of reaching her swimming goal…here is part 2 of “My Year Of Swimming Dangerously” where we find out if she makes her goal and how she incorporates the lesson she learned into her life today.
When I left you, I was in angst about how I would swim 365 miles that year having just shown up in England where there were no pools to be found.
What was this going to do to my goal? I remember seeing only one pool while I was in England and strangely, I didn’t want to get into it. I think it was my way of avoiding the issue of whether or not I was going to fail or succeed in reaching this magical number. When I returned from the trip, I had a little over 2 months to get those last 64 miles in and I was convinced I could still reach my goal. So with what I perceived as renewed vigor and determination, I returned to the pool to continue my quest. Now, my pool wasn’t open everyday, so I knew I would have to factor that into my calculations. So I decided to increase the distance I would swim each time I was able to swim. At first, it didn’t seem so bad. But then little by little, things started to creep in. Such as, how annoyed I got when I had to go to a funeral and miss my swim. Or the day I decided to swim 3 miles straight without stopping. What was I thinking? I almost threw up when I climbed out of the pool. Or the time the lifeguard stopped my swim halfway through because of lightning. Lightning! I’ve got my goal to accomplish, who cares if I’m struck by lightning and die? Do I have to tell you that those last 2 months of 2005 were miserable? I would wake up in the morning and absolutely resent having to go to the pool, AGAIN! I told myself, “Don’t ever give yourself a goal like this EVER”! I felt physically and mentally fatigued. After every swim, I’d note it in the journal and divide days left by miles still to go and sometimes I wondered how it would end. Again, something to wrap my inner negative voice around. Well, it did end. And I’m here to report I did reach my goal. In fact, I blew through it. 412.50059 miles to be exact. But I was left with a bad taste in my mouth about swimming. I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be about doing what I had set out to do because the price of it had become all too consuming. And it showed. In the years that followed, I had fewer and fewer trips to the pool. Only 100 miles in 2007 for example. So I’d learned a lesson about goals. Which was, don’t be arbitrary when it comes to setting them. Think carefully about what it will take to accomplish it. And I know it comes as no surprise to you that I’ve never set another swimming goal. I didn’t want to feel so bad about something so good.
And now we come to the present day. A day you may be surprised to hear that I swam my 441th mile of the year and it’s the final week of December 2011. What happened you ask? I can only tell you that I kept that promise to myself to never set another goal and I didn’t. And what returned due to keeping that promise was the joy I felt when I did swim. So on many days, I would swim in the morning and then again in the evening. I loved it! Again.
This story is not meant to squash the value of goals. It can be motivating and fun to set goals. I share this story because so many of us experience that negative self talk which I was hearing louder and louder as I was reaching for a brass ring, rather than just enjoying the moment. I enjoy the moments again. My body, soul and especially my mind, thank me for that.
I wish you a very Happy New Year 2012 and I hope that you find some movement that you love and set up your goals coming from a place of self-love rather than guilt or pain.