Have You Stretched Yourself Lately?

When was the last time you stretched yourself?  Went beyond the boundaries of your “comfort zone”, into a place that may scare you, even a little bit?  Do you avoid that growth or embrace it?

Last weekend I participated in the Falmouth Triathlon, a sprint distance race that includes a 3/10 mile swim, 9.25 mile bike and a 5k run.  Triathlon’s are new for me and the swimming and biking stretched me.

Admittedly I didn’t swim (at all!) or bike as much as I could have.  As race day approached I noticed fear-based thoughts taking over, “I wish I didn’t have to do this.”  and “I can’t wait for this to be over.”  When I’m nervous I fall into “I don’t want to do it” mode.  I’m aware of it, and that awareness allows me to modify my self-talk.

Although I always imagined winning the “first timers” category, I decided to make that secondary to having a lot of fun!  And that shift seemed to work.

In the end I finished strong.  Strong enough to earn a 2nd place first timer finish in my age category. I knew I had done my best.  I felt confident and energized.

Regardless of what you are trying to achieve – improved public speaking, improved fitness levels, job/career growth – fear will probably appear. How do you manage it, stay confident and stretch yourself in order to achieve your goals?  Below are a few ideas that I find helpful and often share with clients to help manage fear and have the confidence to stretch beyond what is comfortable.

Be aware of your fear and how you respond to it. That awareness gives you power to modify your self-talk.

Taking action builds confidence (and often alleviates fear). If you are afraid, assess risk and take action.  Not doing something keeps the fear alive.

Your body is stronger than you think. Too often I see people ignoring their bodies, or believing that they aren’t strong enough.  Give the mind (your thoughts) a rest once in a while and let your body do its thing. You may be surprised at the outcome.

Taking action is exciting and energizing! Think about a time when you stretched yourself – how did you feel?  Maybe exhausted, but were you energized? Excited?  Every time I stretch myself I think, “I can do anything.”  That’s powerful.  And you don’t get that without taking action.

Do Your Best. That’s all anyone ever asks.  Give it your best effort, and if you’re like me, you just know when you have.

Could I have done better in this race? Absolutely!  There is always room for improvement.  But I stretched myself, worked hard and pushed beyond my comfort zone, giving me a renewed energy and confidence.  And that felt good.

Have you stretched yourself lately?  How did you feel?  How did you manage your fear?

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5 Comments:

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  • http://theboldlife.com Tess The Bold Life

    Hi Stacey,
    I love the photo and congratulations on accomplishing your goal. I have stretched myself lately. I went back to Toastmaster’s Tuesday night after 7 years. I figured if I’m speaking professionally I want to be near like-minded people.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Tess – it’s funny you mention Toastmasters, I deleted the paragraph from the post where I talked about using this story at Toastmasters the next day to inspire people to stretch themselves…you cannot overcome public speaking fear if you never take action. Congratulations on getting back to it!

  • http://www.purposepowercoaching.com Chris Edgar

    Hi Stacey — thanks for this — “your body is stronger than you think” is something I’ve definitely found it important to remember when doing martial arts, and when my co-leader and I do yoga in our live workshops usually the participants have the same kind of realization.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Chris – Yes, yoga is a great way to help folks understand the power of our bodies! Martial arts as well…

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