Seven Principles That Will Help You Build Resilience
“Enjoy the journey on your way to the destination.”
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” — Heb 12:11
Have you ever struggled to rediscover your passion for something you loved or enjoyed? Or have you given up on pursuing a dream?
Six weeks ago, my cycling passion and my will to ride tested to their limit.
When I travelled home in June, I took my bicycle with me, hoping to put in a few rides when possible. Without a definite plan, I could manage only two short rides in three weeks. Feeling devastated, I left my bicycle behind, giving up on riding any time soon, if at all. I thought it would be best if I took up a new and easier sport that is less time-consuming, less expensive and not so physically demanding.
Three weeks turned into six, and then five months went by without any ride. The many attempts from my buddies failed to get me back on the bike. “I am too fat now. I don’t have a bike. Work is hectic.” These were a few of my many excuses.
“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” — Jim Rohn
The Darvelo Tanzania 30 by 30 cycling challenge was my trigger. Ride at least 30KMs every day for 30 days. I bought a bike and signed up with a cycling coach.
I completed 853 km from 20 rides in 30 hours — almost half of what I have covered from Jan to date. Before my long layoff, I was hitting speeds north of 30 KMPH. During the challenge, I could barely hit 28 KMPH. My backside was on fire in the first week. And I could hardly feel my legs and other body parts during some rides.
But, this challenge helped me rediscover the joy of being behind those bars. And I experienced the benefit of applying the following seven principles in successfully pursuing a goal.
1. Enjoy the journey and celebrate every step of the way.
On two occasions, I rode less than the target of 30 KMs. At the end of day 11, my bike computer read 100 KMs. No matter the distance, I celebrated every day I made it out to ride.
2. Failure can be inevitable, but giving up is a choice.
I felt déjà vu when I broke my streak on day 12. I chose not to ride on day 13. And no matter how days I missed, I got back up.
3. Never give up on your dreams.
Cycling is only a hobby, but I dream of cycling until I am old and grey. I am not young now and already grey. But you get my drift. I did not let the setbacks make me give up on that dream.
4. The first step is the most important.
The Chinese say, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” I needed the first ride. A kid learning to walk needs the first step. If you want to write a book, it starts with the first sentence. A long career begins with the first job. So whatever your dream is, take the first step in that direction.
5. Aim for progress, not perfection.
Recording more KMs was the progress I needed more than posting fast times. You might not get it right every time, but keep going.
6. It is not how you start but how you finish.
Be realistic with yourself and take baby steps making 1% improvements daily. It is better to start slow and finish strong than to start strong and never finish.
7. Keep moving forward.
Go fast, go slow, pause but never go backward. Keep moving in the direction of your goal or dream.
Your goal might be more serious, meaningful and complicated than completing a 30-day cycling challenge. But, whether that goal is to start a business, pursue a passion project or grow your career, you will need to understand commitment, perseverance and what it means to trust the process. I learnt that from those principles. And I hope they will help you be resilient and focused on your dreams during this festive season.
Two (2) Book recommendations
Here are two of my favourite on building habits and being resilient.
a) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
“A supremely practical and useful book. James Clear distils the most fundamental information about habit formation, so you can accomplish more by focusing on less.” — Mark Mason
b) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
A worthy re-read and reference manual that presents perseverance as a crucial success ingredient.
Three (3) Citations
Here are three quotes to remind you never to give up, to find the inner strength to get back up after every fall and keep moving forward.
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” ― Margaret Thatcher
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.” ― Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” ― Nelson Mandela