I’d quit the gym by the end of 2020. I assumed that once restrictions eased, I’d be out and about visiting clients on a regular basis. That never really happened because businesses adjusted the way they worked, but I did nothing about it.
It was only when a medical professional hinted that I may not be able to continue taking a medication that really works well for me that I acted. Now I’ve been at it a few months and it’s a habit, I have realised that it’s helped more than just my health.
After more than twenty years in my professional field being labelled an expert or heavyweight is no longer uncomfortable, but it comes with a side dish of pressure. You’re hired for these years and the experience that signals and want to succeed.
At a conference last November one of my takeaways from a keynote speaker was to never be afraid to be a beginner. Once you clear the mental hurdle of being able to admit that you can’t do something you’ve already taken the first step towards ‘can.’
Last October, I couldn’t run at all. At all. With no preconceptions, my mind was totally open to any approach that claimed to be able to change that. Being an expert econometric consultant didn’t help me run one bit. Why on earth should it?
Whatever it is that you want or need to do but cannot yet, the same applies. It’s no different even if it is tangentially related to what you are already expert in. Acknowledging gaps is not a weakness when you have committed to filling them.
There are gaps in my professional knowledge, of course. Rather than ostrich-ing I am much more inclined now to be honest. Some things I had assumed were problematic, clients do not actually expect me to offer. Without being open, I would never have known that.
If you have ever seen a small child running for fun, you can learn a lot. There’s no over-thinking, no focus on form, no self-consciousness or anything else that influences how adults behave.
To test your potential in a new thing, to find your niche within it, you need to discover your inner child and just let yourself go a bit, without expectation. Learn not to confuse training or practice runs with doing it for real in a professional capacity.
We are often our harshest critics, even at activities where we are complete novices. That is mad. Of course, it is useful to check in on progress now and then, but not all the time. And it only ever makes sense so to compare yourself to past you.
I learned quickly that my biggest running challenge is mental - this applies to lots of things. I am not and will never be “fast”, but I can increasingly go far and enjoy that. I break PBs only when I am not attempting to. 70s rock trumps 80s pop. I love rainy running. I am best first thing.
I’ve been consistently lacing-up but systematically trying different things. There’s never only one way to achieve something or one "type" of doer to be. Now I know more about the type of runner I’ll become I can plan appropriately so that it stays fun.
Most of us cannot realistically take on a new venture without getting rid of at least one other thing so decisions probably need to be made about what can be killed or let slide at least for a while. Job number one is to make a habit of that new thing.
To allow running to become part of my established routine I had to be very strict at first. Not allow its slot in my day to be bumped for more enjoyable, easier tasks or jobs. Of course, the happy by-product is that I progressed much more quickly too.
It really highlighted my unnecessary tendency to give paid work top spot. After 3 months, I can and do occasionally shift my morning run knowing that I’ll still go. But not often, because I have found that I work much more effectively after a run.
With an already-full schedule I had privately thought that my trainers would be relegated to the garage by now. But the busier my diary has become, the harder I have worked to find efficiencies that means I can keep every plate spinning. Then change slowly happens.
Running the same distance can now be slotted into a shorter window than before as I get a bit quicker. It is always worth remembering while it is still early days for a new thing that you are likely to find better techniques over time. It may not always feel like pushing water uphill.
You can substitute running for any new thing, the thing itself isn’t really the important point. But if you are interested in trying out running too, I can highly recommend the following. By no means the only ways to begin, but they worked for me. Just start:
Maybe see you out there …
© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2022