I think that deciding when to let something go and move on to other things might be one of the most difficult choices in life to make. People face this choice repeatedly with relationships, friendships, and careers. I write a lot about setting goals, staying motivated, and persevering despite obstacles, setbacks, and tough times. What I haven’t given much consideration to is when it’s okay to let a dream go.
I came across a quote from Oprah the other day that describes pretty accurately what I’ve been experiencing for a few days now:
I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like ‘hmm, that’s odd.’ Or, ‘hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.’ Or, ‘hmm, is that right?’ It’s that subtle. And if you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped upside the head. If you don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people’s lives. And so, I ask people, ‘What are the whispers? What’s whispering to you now?’
I did my first figure competition in November after spending 5 years thinking about doing one. I screwed around and got way off track for almost two months afterward. I’ve been committed to training hard and eating clean for about 7 weeks now and have felt good. My plan has been to compete in figure again in July at Nicole’s show in Michigan.
But, at the risk of sounding schizophrenic, I started hearing whispers. What are my whispers saying?
- My heart isn’t in competing in figure
- I’m not excited about my next show. I didn’t even really enjoy my first one that much.
- I’m not sure that a figure competitor’s body is what I consider ideal for myself
- I’m not sure that I chose to compete in figure again for the right reasons
- I’m beginning to lose the intrinsic enjoyment that training hard and eating clean used to bring me. Now I do them out of obligation because of how I need to look for a competition.
Honestly, this was all really stressing me out. At first, I thought that backing out of competing in July would make me a quitter. It would mean that I was too weak to tough it out, and that I was lazy for not seeing it through to the end. I was worried about disappointing Nicole. I was worried about being judged by my figure/bikini/physique competitor friends or even losing them if I stopped competing. I was worried that if I didn’t have the identity “figure competitor” to label myself with, who would I be? If I didn’t have a competition to train for, would I stay motivated? If I didn’t have a trainer to be accountable to, would I stay disciplined? If this was no longer my goal, what would my new goal be?
I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels trying to answer those questions and catastrophizing the various possible outcomes of my choice. Eventually, I realized that how I answer those questions isn’t pertinent to my decision to compete or not. My head and my heart are clearly not in it. It’s time to move on. It’s kind of like a bad relationship – is it in your best interest just to tough it out because you’ve already invested so much in it and you’re afraid of being alone? Or because it’s easier and more comfortable to continue with the status quo than it is to unsettle your universe and go in a completely different direction? I say no. There are plenty of people who do stay in those mediocre/bad relationships for those very reasons, but I refuse to be one of those people (which might also be the reason I’m single – haha). One of the things that I’ve been interested in trying is CrossFit. If I go that route, who knows where it will lead me. Competing in figure changed my life in ways I never expected. Pursuing a new goal will likely do the same in ways I can’t anticipate.
So, I’ve decided not to compete in figure again in July. I had a goal to do a figure competition, and I achieved it. I think that competing a second time was driven more by my need to be perfect than because I really want to compete again. What you want changes sometimes, and that’s okay. I thought I wanted to continue competing in figure. It turns out that I really don’t. That doesn’t make me lazy or a quitter. Recognizing when you’ve reached the end of the road will help you avoid wasting precious time and energy pursuing something that doesn’t really make you happy, and it will set you free to travel other roads that may lead to an even better journey/destination.
This leaves me with some loose ends to tie up though. I still need a new goal. I have some ideas, but haven’t made a decision yet. I’m going to mull it over a bit more. In the interim, I will continue eating clean and training hard. Just because I am leaving an old goal behind doesn’t mean I don’t carry forward the things I gained from it.
Got thoughts on what my new athletic/fitness endeavor should be? I’d love to hear them!