This blog was written for and published by Future Females | January 2018
When I started my working life, I crossed paths with Wendy. I can remember her vividly. Grey hair, extremely grumpy, deep lines of unhappiness on her face and a somber no-can-do attitude. I looked at Wendy, a secretary for the same boss for 20 years and the mere idea of this monotony scared the 24-year old me into a quarter life crisis. 20 years? Typing letters for the same boss?
However, looking back, it was not half a working lifetime doing the same things that scared me, but how completely and utterly Wendy seemed to have fallen out of love with life. She was just so grey in all facets, so much so that it was a great displeasure to have anything to with her as she was so miserable.
Wendy was young once and I can only assume as bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed as I was when I met her. What happened to her? Did she stumble along in life, fall into a comfortable place and just stayed there? Did she truly believe that deep inside (very, very deep it seemed) that she was happy? Maybe she hated her job and preferred being at home, where she was a bundle of joy-giving-Wendy? I doubt it. Wendy stopped growing. She stopped her metamorphosis at some stage. Wendy stopped evolving.
Don’t be Wendy
I don’t know Wendy’s whys. All I know is that I didn’t want to be Wendy. I must never fall out of love with life.
It’s important to make sure that what you spend most of your day on, is something you believe in, find pleasure doing and are fulfilled and stimulated. If you are not at this place, you hate going to work and get a knot in your stomach each time you see your boss’ name on your phone or e-mail, you have to make a change.
Yip. Change. Some people do a little Madiba-shuffle at the mere thought of change but most utter loud groans. Urgh. Change seems so difficult. It is. Change seems like hard work. It is. But there’s a huge reward in pulling up your big-boy undies and crossing over to the light side. Only change can bring growth. But I guess it is also about fear. Fear of the different and fear of failure. Unfortunately, avoiding failure is to avoid progress.
Our human composition is so interesting: on the one hand, we have the natural tendency to be afraid of everything (the complete absence of fear is of course terribly dangerous) and on the flipside, we have the most incredible ability to be super tenacious, to just never give up. Growing and learning as you fail would be the equilibrium of these two built-in features.
“If you know me based on who I was a year ago, you don’t know me at all. My growth game is strong”. I love this quote. My growth game is strong. How do you achieve this? With exercise, of course!
Do the reps
“There are no shortcuts. Everything is reps, reps, reps.” said Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he should know, right?
Want Michelle Obama arms? Want to give Wolverine a run for his money? You can hardly achieve this by paging through fitness mags and following athletes on your Instagram. Put down that doughnut and go do some reps!
Steve Case said “A vision without the ability to execute it is probably a hallucination”. Strong words there, Steve. #truethat.
Execution is exactly what is required for you to get your growth game strong. Sit down and determine which areas are wobbly in your life and work out an exercise regime. You need to train yourself into becoming a strong grower by focusing on specific points (euphemism for weak points!) and get stuck into transforming them into well-defined strengths with some serious reps. The secret is of course that you have to repeat your reps again and again and again. And then some more.
At first, you’ll think that it’s too hard and you’ll never get through this, but pump up the volume, get focused, feel the burn, and pretty soon the difficult tasks will become so much easier. Soon you’ll be doing things you never thought possible.
You’ll definitely not see any changes immediately, but there will be a moment in time where your accumulative hard work will start to show. Then, all of a sudden (or at least it will feel that way), you’ll be “Bam! Just look at those guns!” Other people will also start noticing your changes, your enhancements. And that’s when your motivation to transform yourself kicks into the next level. When you start to see yourself changing and you, yes you, start to change things around you.
Get a personal trainer
I know, I know. You can do this all by yourself. You’ve got this. Yes and no.
If you are serious about becoming the best version of yourself, you can achieve more and faster if you have an expert to help you. You can only read so many motivational quotes and watch so many videos before you get to the place where you have to put all the puzzle pieces together. Having someone who looks from the outside in, is vital.
We are all in different phases: perhaps you don’t know how to get started and the previous section about reps made absolute no sense to you whatsoever, or maybe you know exactly what you want but need that extra something to help you get there. Perhaps you are that person who can’t resist the doughnut and remote and require a “motivator”, loosely translated as a Buster-of-chops.
Getting a professional career coach or life coach can really take your training to the next level. It’s not always possible and most times not all that healthy to rely on your mates or your partner to bounce everything off from. Just avoid all awkward situations in your personal relationships and get an independent expert who’ll show you exactly how to go through certain processes correctly and assist you with sticking to your programme, checking in with you consistently. This can be invaluable to your progress.
Most of whatever you need is within you, it just takes someone to help you turn your thoughts and aspirations into lightbulb moments and doable tasks.
You’ve got your training going at full speed, your personal trainer in the wings. What’s important when you’ve passed the initial am-I-gonna-die? phase is to not sit back, relax and start getting complacent. Remember that place Wendy liked so much? That comfortable place? Uh-uh. Not good for progress. Grey looks good on walls, not on your persona.
Never stop building the best version of yourself.
Another beautiful but somewhat annoying human trait is that of continuing to be better, stronger, faster. Do more of that. So, you now have nice calves. Get better calves. So, you are a great networker. Be a superstar networker. Be an insanely successful dealmaker. Be a millionaire.
The only way you build and retain resilience is to retain your fitness level. There will be stumbling blocks and there will be more mistakes and more let-downs. Yes, this is life and it’s the script. Just don’t stop. Don’t beat yourself up either if you have temporary setbacks. Be a trooper, get back on the saddle and start peddling again.
Most of all, whetever you do, do not fall out of love with life. Don’t be Wendy. Be you. The mortal combat-jedi-kick-ass version.