Challenge your limits: How I discovered I can do so much more than I ever thought...and how you can
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
A year ago a friend of mine told me she was going to do a triathlon, I was so inspired by her ability to give it a go, something so tough and different from what she had ever done before. I had always put something like a triathlon into a box of 'I will never do that'. Mainly because I thought that I couldn't. I am naturally terrible at everything long distance so I just never thought I could do it and therefore never wanted to do it. I had a realization that if my friend believes that she can, why can't i?! There was no reason, so I signed up too! When I told my friends and family that I was going to do it they honestly thought I was crazy. "What, a triathlon?! You can't do a triathlon!"
I was so excited to do something so outside of what I normally do but when I got the reaction I did every time I told someone that knew me well it brought me down. Their reaction only made me want to prove to all of them that I could. It wasn't until I calmed down from being hurt that I realised of course they would react this way, how could any of them believe in me when I have never believed in myself before. I was constantly telling people the limitations and the excuses I have, the same things I also tell myself, in all areas on my life. "I wish I could run a fun run, but I am so bad at running, I am just not built for it, I hate it." "I can't do public speaking, I get too nervous" I had conditioned everyone around me believe in my limitations and excuses as much as I did.
So I trained my little heart out and did my triathlon, I loved everything about it. The feeling of accomplishment of finishing something I never in my life imagined I could or would. It was an overwhelming and addictive feeling. After this massive 'ah-ha' moment I decided to make a real conscious effort to stop putting restrictions on what I can and can't do, and that started by not saying these 'I can't' statements to others and myself anymore but rather shift my language to 'I don't know if I can but I am going to try it and see what happens'. Only after I try something, I can then decide if I like it and work harder at it, or decide that I didn't particularly like it and leave it as something I have explored.
Since then I have done so many amazing things, I did not actively seek any of them, they have probably always been there but now I notice them because I am open to it. The most amazing thing is that by exposing myself to something I then discovered something else, it is all connected when I look back at it. I can see I wouldn't have do any of these things if I never entered that first triathlon.
Just like my mind shifted about myself so did all my friends and family. They have gone from 'your doing what?! Why?!' To asking me what things I am working towards at the moment with excitement and support. They believe in me because I believe in me, and it's really empowering to have them on my side when I reach moments of self doubt (which always happens the very moment before I am about to do something!!)
Here is my journey of facing challenges that may not seem big or challenging to you, but they were most definitely for me.
When training for my triathlon I signed up to a 1km ocean swim - one of the hardest things I have done. I had a panic attack in the water at the beginning but managed to calm myself down and swim to finish 147 out of 479. I never would have considered attempting an ocean swim if wasn't training for my triathlon and I would actually like to try some more ocean swims in the future.
I also ran my first ever fun run the day before my swim in order to train for my triathlon. It was 7km, I had never really ran more than 400m at a time before this. The goal was to run as much as I could, I stupidly didn't train for it at all because I loath running, so it was hard but I proved to myself I could run more than 400m!!!
I completed my first triathlon which I loved. I felt great in the pool and on the bike. When it came to the running I really struggled. I knew this was something I wanted to improve so that I could do a longer triathlon.
I signed up to do a half marathon. Mainly because I knew it was way too long to not train for, so I knew it was going to force me to do running training and not 'wing it' like I did in my fun run or triathlon, which would help my improve my running. My major goal was not to walk any of it, no matter how slow I had to run. I achieved this! It was seriously hard and I basically came last!! I did however learn so much through completing this.
I then decided to do a longer triathlon, all the training I was meant to do didn't happen because life, work and illness really got in the way. Everyone at the event was from an Australian or state team, all triathletes, then there was me! I have never been so anxious about anything ever before. I felt so ill the days leading into it. My mum came and supported me and told me to just have fun and give it a go, so I did. The morning of the event I found out that the swim was cancelled due to poor water quality and would now become a run swim run. This was my worst nightmare!! Swimming being my best leg and running being my worst! I remembered that I was not here to compete, I was here for my own challenge and to enjoy it. So I went into it with the plan to run my own race and I managed to come last in my category and third last over all in front of 2 people in the 60yrs plus category!! Haha!! I was sooo worried about failure, and some people may think that I did fail, but I didn't feel like a failure at all. There was nothing to be afraid of, nothing bad happened by being last. I felt on top of the world for turning up and finishing, I was actually so happy with myself.
Through writing about my experiences on Instagram I found that by sharing my story I had inspired and connected with others who felt the same, or felt empowered by what I shared. This is what lead me to starting my blog. I am extremely sensitive to what people think of me, so putting myself out there was something I never thought about doing. But like all other limitations I decided to challenge it. I felt there is a lack of people talking about a lot of the things I am passionate about who don't do it for a living. The people writing about health work full time in it, so it's easy for them to make time and stay on track, the people who write about travel are paid to travel they don't have to save and inspire themselves to invest in it, and this same thing happens in fashion, food, etc. to me these people aren't relatable, they don't work the office life like I do. This compelled me to just put myself out there anyway, because helping or inspiring just one other person who is just an average person like me would be worth it.
My latest challenge was completing my 200hr yoga teacher training course. Last year I went on a fitness retreat with my friends and had a really amazing yoga teacher who made me fall back in love with my yoga practice. I came home and ended up going to a number of yoga events and trying a huge range of yoga that I hadn't done before. By being exposed to it all it inspired me to give this a go. I knew it would challenge my ability to command a room and be confident and it has definitely been challenging! After the first weekend I was ready to quit because I felt just too far outside of my comfort zone. The prac teaching was terrifying for me! I was always so nervous, quiet and not my true self. However I decided to stick it out and I am so glad that I did. I learnt so much about myself including understanding my limiting beliefs. I also learnt practical ways to balance out these beliefs when I get triggered, so come exam weekend I put all of these tools that I had learnt to the test as my biggest fear (trigger) was the practical exam. I can confirm that what I learnt really worked! I got up in front of my entire class, taught yoga without being shy, without a shaky voice - literally a life changing experience.
I have learnt that in moments of self doubt I try to remind myself of all these things I have done so far and know that it will be ok, fail or succeed, the world will not end, I will be ok!
Next on the list is climbing Machu Pichu and the rainbow mountains! I know if I didn't consider that first opportunity to do that triathlon that I wouldn't have done any of these amazing things or even be thinking and planning all these other amazing things.
My biggest lesson in which I keep learning is that no one cares if you try something and fail, only you will, if you let it. Everyone else will actually be amazed that you had the guts to give it a go, and your attempt alone will inspire others.
What could you do, achieve and experience if you stop telling yourself 'I cant'? I challenge you to challenge yourself! If there is something I have done that when you read it you have thought, there is no way I could do that? you are lying to yourself. Learn the difference between things you don't have any interest in doing, and things that you have limited yourself to think you can't. It's not always easy to separate these two things. Often we think we don't like something but really we only dislike it because we think we can't do it.
Breaking through a challenge is the hardest but most rewarding and freeing thing you can do.