At least…

Sometimes we all get into a funk. I’m not talking about the big-hair, bell-bottomed, kung-fu-kicks in the air kind of funk either. This is the funk where we look at what we are doing to reach our goals, determine that we are not as far along as we’d like to be, and then say, “Well, AT LEAST I’m not as bad as _____” or “At least I do what I need to some of the time…”

Why are we consoling ourselves and how we feel about a lack of progress by saying “at least”? It’s one thing to acknowledge the effort you’ve put into something, and then use that to move forward and put MORE effort into it, but when we tell ourselves, “At least I did this much” it’s like we are pardoning ourselves and saying, “You didn’t reach that goal you set for yourself, but good job for trying at all.”

Now, effort SHOULD be rewarded. But it needs to be proportionate to what that effort accomplished.

Let’s draw a parallel: You start to mow your lawn (good) and it’s a hot day out so you decide to take a water break mid-mow.  You’re standing there, drinking your water, looking at the half-mowed lawn and you decide that you don’t wanna mow anymore today. Do you say, “At least I mowed half the lawn”? Heck no; now your lawn looks even worse than it did before you started the job. Good job for starting something that needs to get done, but it didn’t get done… now what?

Here’s another one: You decide you are going to get fit and take the 100 pushups challenge. So you print out the schedule, start doing your workouts, feelin’ the burn, and day-by-day you get stronger. Awesome! Then, the inevitable: life hands you lemons, and while you are trying to make lemonade, you got the juice in that paper-cut from the office and now your left hand is in crazy pain! No pushups today 🙁 Following a series of unfortunate events, you look back and it’s been 2 weeks since you did your daily workout… “Well, at least…” you begin to tell yourself.

The problem with “At least” is that we are focusing on a level of effort we KNOW we could have done better than.  In order to say “at least,” our mind has to acknowledge that we could most definitely have done more to have gotten closer to our goal/s. When we say “at least” we have to wonder, “What could I have done at most?” The problem is: now you’ll NEVER know! The past is unchangeable, and when we stick ourselves with “at least” we are stuck reflecting on our shortcomings and justifying them to ourselves just so we can sleep at night.

While the past will always remain the same, the future is absolutely whatever we want it to be! When we say “at least” we are settling for the unchangeable past, but when we imagine “at most, we challenge ourselves to explore our limits and to push past them. These are the incredible times when we even surprise ourselves with our accomplishments. After pushing our imaginations, and our capabilities, and our accomplishments, when the future turns into the present, and present to past, we get to look back and say, “that was me at my best.” Now, There is a magical thing that happens here that is light-years away from where we are when we say, “at least.” After doing our absolute best, we aren’t always satisfied with the result, BUT we also aren’t stuck with the regret that comes with knowing we could have done more. Even better still is the opportunity that is then put before us where we have the chance to try again and make our “most” even  more, and our best even better!

So here’s the challenge: don’t let yourself get away with any “at least” moments. Set high goals and push yourself to them so that instead of dodging guilt, you can enjoy pride:)

See you at the pool,

Coach Sean Banister