Although I was raised catholic, I always pondered the virtues of confession. I was young enough when I had my first confession that I honestly wondered what “sin” I had committed that I could confess to. Whatever it was that I finally confessed to, I’ll never remember, but it surely made me feel great. I had this sense of relief that my burden was lifted through the simple act of sharing it with someone else. Though it is a lesson I discovered young, I must not have paid close enough attention as I only rediscovered it recently in balancing work and triathlon.
When I first started practicing triathlon I found it hard to sneak in my workouts all the while managing meetings, planning travels, client presentations and other commitments. I often stayed up late entertaining my clients to drinks and dinners and getting up a few hours later to get a run, a bike or a swim in. In the process I would usually kill myself ending up sick within days of the superhuman effort, resulting in getting behind on my training but also on work and coming home to my family only to stay bedridden for days. Clearly something wasn’t working.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out the answer to this problem, particularly as the answer is so clearly simple. I realize that telling people early enough about my passion for triathlon and informing them ahead of time that I had to get a workout in everyday put the burden on them. You see, in the business world most will feel obliged to take clients to dinner, drinks, after dinner parties, more drinks…you get the idea.
I somehow turned this upside down. As soon as I can, I proudly confess that I’m a triathlete. Unavoidably, the obligatory question about how much I work out comes up and I simply answer, “Every day”. This clears the air and establishes a baseline with others. When I recently went on a week long trip across Asia, the first thing I told my boss was that “I will have to work out everyday and at least 4 hours each day of the weekend”.
This confession gave me freedom afterwards to skip a drink, a long breakfast or even a dinner so that I could work out. By sharing early what my plans were, by letting others know exactly that I would be workout every day it almost gave me an excuse going forward. Though it does feel odd to even write about how this simple act of confessing your passion can enable you to practice your passion, it took me a while to figure out. Similar to a catholic confession, this approach also lifts the burden off of your shoulder and places it elsewhere. Some may not agree or approve of your priorities but it becomes their issue to deal with, no longer yours.
The added benefit of this early confession to clients, co-workers, bosses, etc… is that it commits you to the workout. By stating out loud the goal, it increases the pressure to see that commitment through and therefore its likelihood for success.
Finally, the best benefit of letting people know early about these planned workouts is that you might be surprised who will join you and we all know that it’s much more enjoyable to workout with others than alone. At times, you may even find some incredible sights or activities that one would not find by simply sightseeing.
In my time practicing this method of putting the burden of my workouts on those around me I’ve yet to find someone criticize my priorities or put me down because of them. In fact, I’ve found many prefer to join the one who leads a healthy, structured regimen of exercise than an unstructured one.
So I confess. I am an unapologetic triathlete who will work out on average once a day regardless of where I am in the world!