“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” Babe Ruth
It is April of 2020 and I have spent the last 26 years wearing a military uniform, serving my country, and serving those I have experienced life with. I am now pursuing a passionate career as a Personal Trainer because I love helping and motivating people to overcome challenges. As I transition from the military service to the world of personal training, I am constantly fighting the worry, anxiety, and fear of failing as a Personal Trainer. Even though I retired from the US Air Force as a First Sergeant where I was responsible for the Health, Welfare, Morale, and Fitness of thousands of Active Duty members, I am still nervous and hesitant about this transition.
I believe the same feelings I am wrestling with are also very familiar to those who may be teetering on the idea of getting back into shape and pursuing fitness goals. I know there are folks out there who want to commit to a workout routine for various and great reasons. These same individuals can relate to the worry, anxiety, and fear of failing in their pursuit-of-better. Those feelings can actually paralyze us in chasing our goals, they create a hesitancy and a temptation to quit our goals even before we take the first step towards tackling our goals.
So what do we do with this constant internal battle between pursuing our goals and the fear of failure? To simplify, I say “Take the first step and walk the plank!”. Simply, “Take the challenge and Tease your Limits!” It is as simple as having, “Faith over Fear!”. I repeated ‘simplify’, ‘simply’, and ‘as simple as’ to be facetious because we all know those things are easy to SAY but a lot harder to DO. Even though they are easier said than done, there are still universal and infinite truths to those statements.
“Take The First Step and Walk The Plank!”
Most of us can agree that the hardest part of getting up and ready for the day is that first step out of bed. However, there is power and beauty in that first step, because it is almost always followed by the second step, then the third, and so on. Before we know it our teeth are brushed, our hair is done, our clothes are on and we have gained empowering momentum preventing us from falling back into bed. In the spirit of fitness, that first step could be walking into a gym, answering an invite from a friend who wants to jog together, or even hiring a personal trainer.
The truth is the first step is that progress and momentum found in the subsequent steps never happen without taking that critical first step. On the same note, the first step is almost always followed by the progress and momentum of the steps to follow. The “First Step” approach is a great strategy because many see the goal line as too far away to achieve. Instead focus on, one step at a time; don’t focus on all bazillion steps it may take, just focus on the next step. So, I encourage all; be bold, be proud, and take the first step.
“Take The Challenge and Tease Your Limits!”
Growth and progress only present themselves when we overcome challenges. When we mastered our A-B-Cs, they were no longer challenging for us. Then we were introduced to putting the letters together to learn how to spell words and then eventually making sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Each step presented a new challenge enabling us to grow and progress. New challenges also provide the motivation that overcomes stagnation. Once we mastered the A-B-Cs they actually became boring to us and we needed the new challenge to get us excited about the next level.
By teasing our limits and getting out of our comfort zone we are setting up the perfect environment for growth. When it comes to fitness, all your gains will come when you play in that uncomfortable zone. Overcoming the uncomfortable feeling of walking into a gym, working out with a friend for the first time, or asking a Personal Trainer for help will allow us to progress our health, but also our confidence and self-esteem. Teasing our limits is not about perfection or comparing our fitness levels to others, but it is about progress. I use the mantra of “One-Inch Closer Everyday”. Embrace the concept of “Teasing your Limits” and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“Faith Over Fear!”
Fear is a downright, dirty liar. Some of the lies that come with fear are, “You’ll never be able to get there.”, “You tried it before and failed.”, “Everyone else is going to judge you.” I know most people can relate to these lies. When we choose to give strength to these lies and believe them, we are at an extreme disadvantage in pursuing our goals. Those fears are natural, but they don’t have to drive our decisions. Instead, try focusing on faith. Faith in what, you ask.
Have Faith that you have already survived your worst days. Have Faith that you can tackle this one step at a time, starting with the first step. Also, have Faith that you can handle “One” step at a time. Have Faith that in the pursuit of better, an inch closer a day still gets us closer to our goals. Have Faith that there is glory and victory on the other side of each of these challenges. Also, have Faith the glory and victory will lead to an intense satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Have Faith that the tougher the challenge, the greater that feeling of accomplishment waiting on the other side. Have Faith that there are multiple rewards along the journey of pursuing our goals. So, let’s minimize the power of fear and strengthen the power of our Faith.
As we both are embarking on this new challenge, let’s remember to “Take the first step!” knowing it will be accompanied by the momentum of the steps to follow. When the challenges get tough and doubt starts to kick in, we must remind ourselves that “Teasing our limits!” is a good thing that yields growth and progress. Lastly, let’s choose to have “Faith over fear!” and not believe the lies from fear but grab onto the power and Faith of the victories waiting for us in the Pursuit-of-Better.
JOEL W. SHEPHERD, SMSgt, USAF, (ret.)
Tri-City Court Club, Kennewick, WA