In 2015, I realized that I needed to finally tackle a long standing problem in my life: I was a terrible swimmer. I never took swim lessons as a child, and didn't grow up being exposed to the water much, so the only time I ever really did anything that could be considered swimming was in small hotel pools while on vacation. On land, I was agile, I had finesse, I was FAST--but in the water, I was clumsy, my actual swimming was slow, and I was quick to tire. I decided that my goal for the year was to improve my swimming so that if I were on a sinking cruise ship, I could stand a reasonable chance at surviving.
I started by taking the same approach I have toward fitness training: I had to strip everything down to the basics and master simple tasks before I started trying to copy Michael Phelps. I used a noodle.
As weeks went by, I was quickly improving in my technique as well as my endurance. I became more confident in the water, which allowed me to stay calm when I hit learning speed bumps. Within a couple of months, I was bold enough to attempt one of the lanes at the pool without any styrofoam assistance. I dove in without a second thought, and despite not always getting as much air as I should, (because I still had trouble synchronizing my breathing with my strokes), I made it to the end! In that moment, I knew that I had accomplished the first major step in my goal: I rose above the noodle.
As the year wore on, making time and having (mental) energy for the pool was always a challenge. Between the inordinate amount of time it takes to change into and out of swimwear, and the showering and drying process, swim practice became a chore. But every time I felt myself wavering in my commitment and focus, I would remind myself of how much more work is still ahead of me, how far I've already come, how much progress I would lose should I start slacking off, and how incredible I feel each time I see significant improvement. I had good days where I felt like I was a seal pup splashing through the deep end, and bad days where I had the coordination and the agility of a log. In order to maintain my morale, I made sure to never dwell on anything too long.
I am proud to say that I have accomplished my resolution of 2015. Not only am I a better swimmer now, but I am actually in better cardiovascular shape! Through this process, I've learned that it's really the day to day thoughts that get you through a long-term commitment. Thoughts that begin with, "I can't," or "I don't have time," or "I'm never going to," are absolute killers of success. When you make a resolution, instead of thinking about how daunting something is, it is best to not think, but instead, take on the process of achieving the resolution as just a new part of your life; a new habit; as thoughtless of an act as brushing your teeth. Before you know it, you'll be rising above the noodle!