Own It

Speaking of running, who runs your life? Do you own your life or does it seem to own you? Do you own your athletic career and conditioning or does it own you? Do you choose the hours with your family, the number of hours you work and spend on your hobbies or does your life run you? Until we ask the questions and answer them beyond the superficial, it is difficult to have perspective on life and enjoy it to the fullest.

Let’s take a look at some symptoms of non-ownership. I hear these almost daily from people. See if you have heard these kinds of responses from family, friends, and co-workers or heaven forbid – yourself:
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“I had to workout.”
“They made me do it.”
“Everyone else does it.”
“It’s (insert name of choice) fault…”
“It’s something we just have to do.”
There are many variations of course. Listen to every excuse for not doing something. Listen closely. What they are saying is “I don’t own it. It’s someone else’s fault.” Or, “someone is making me do it”. Though there are times this may be true, these types of responses and comments are overused, often untrue and also signal of – non-responsibility.

Another barometer for life ownership is evaluating whether you are doing things to “keep up with the Joneses”. How many activities, gadgets and commitments are due to external pressures you give into? To test if you are keeping up with the Joneses, remove the external comparison source. Now, would you still have or do those things? I overhear parents discussing their kids and sports participation and performance. It is one thing to be proud and supportive, or even to offer structure in getting workouts/practice done; it is quite another to have expectations for their performance. This puts kids in the situation of feeling like they “have to” compete or do well or beat someone (especially the neighbor’s kid). They no longer “own” the participation. They now do it “for” the parents.

Remember, the words “have to” or “must” indicates a lack of choice or that there is a consequence to not complying. Everyone has heard that we “have to” pay taxes. That is not true. We know of people who don’t. We’ve read about many of them in the newspapers. (Those we don’t read about enjoy taking the risk.) So, owning it, is about making choices and accepting responsibility for the outcomes or affects; as well as not putting others in that situation.

We are the sum of all decisions we have made in our lives. Jobs applied for, jobs you accepted, hobbies, people you hired, where you live, significant others, friends you hang around, schooling, diets, workouts you did or didn’t do, races you entered; are all a result of choices you’ve made. When our lives seem out of control or boring or unfulfilling or we are’t gettignthe results we want – it is most directly the result of all our decisions. In each of these cases, it means it’s time to make different choices or accept the consequences and stop blaming someone else for it.

Thoughtful decision making is key to a fulfilling life. Jumping at an opportunity which may pass by may be a key to success. On the other hand, it may be one more grasping-at-straws attempt to “make it”. Some people have a pattern of passing on opportunities or waiting too long to make a move and lose out in the long run. Others suffer from jumping from opportunity to opportunity (job to job; training approach to training approach) without sufficient thought. Evaluating your decision-making history is the first step in making better decisions for your future.

Are you satisfied with your athletic performance? Are you pleased with where you are in life? Are you pleased with your decisions? Are your choices getting you the results you want?

Making new choices – going in new directions – is not easy. We are creatures of habit. (Why else would we have continued to make these same choices?) Individual decision making and analyzing how you can benefit from past decisions (versus burdened by them) are critical in getting better without the psychological burdens.

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About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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