I felt most alive in the water. Swimming was easier than anything on land for me. I was one of those kids who might as well have had gills I spent so much time in water.
I’m in my late thirties now, and I live on the river in a floating home.
I had lived in my little floating house (it’s not a boat, it’s a house that floats) for nearly ten months - this past summer - when I finally got in the water to swim around.
One week in August I thought to myself, “Hey… I could go swimming in the mornings! That would be great cross training for the other workouts."
I had a suit from a swim I’d done a couple of years ago and my goggles and a cap.
This will be just like riding a bike, I thought.
The first morning I got up to get in the water it was freezing outside.
All of sudden I started getting freaked out.
I gave myself a little pep talk, “I’m only going to do ten minutes. Just ten. I can do that. It’s not that cold."
But it was cold.
And what if there were big sea creatures in there.
Like the Columbia River version of the Loch Ness Monster…
STOP it Rebecca.
Game face. You can do this. You can do this...
I put on my cap, postitioned my goggles on my face, took a deep breath and jumped in.
OHMYGOD COLD COLD COLD...
I SPRUNG BACK UP OF THE WATER LIKE MY FOOT HAD GRAZED NESSIE’S HEAD.
Frantically I started stroking in the direction of the main channel.
Right arm! Left arm! COME ON! Head up!
DON’T PUT YOUR HEAD UNDER THERE ARE SEA CREATURES IN THERE!
Ten minutes. Right? I can do ten minutes.
With air in my lungs maybe.
I couldn’t breathe.
I was totally freaking out.
And ten minutes suddenly felt like a VERY LONG TIME.
Stroke stroke stroke... COME ON!
Annnnnnd, I swam for six minutes.
I wasn’t in the river long enough water to sneak under my cap; I had dry hair when I took it off.
But I swam for six minutes!
Six whole minutes!
And you know what? The next day I swam for 15 minutes.
That, my dears, is a low bar. (And it was still tough.)
I am a HUGE believer in achievable goals and ESPECIALLY in setting the bar low when you’re starting something new.
I thought ten minutes was a low enough bar that day.
I needed to set that bar lower.
If I had set my time for 30 minutes on the very first day, I probably would have felt so defeated that I wouldn’t have dove back in the next day.
I watch my clients do this all the time.
I believe it’s a subconscious form of self-sabotage, and also partially our culture’s desire to “go big or go home.”
It’s not the super bowl y’all.
Here are some of the things I hear from my clients:
I’m going to give up all sugary treats until I lose ____ lbs.
I’m going to start doing a bootcamp at home every day.
I’m going to go running for 45 minutes my first time out (even if I've never run more than 2 minutes).
These goals are really high bars if you’re starting a new habit.
Instead how about these low bar, achievable goals:
How about reducing your sugar intake by eliminating one sugary thing a day? Like cutting out your daily Starbucks or a glass of wine?
How about finding an activity you really like - like Zumba®! - and going one or two times a week? (Hey, and you can get rewarded by going during our Self Care Challenge right now!)
How about walking for 2 minutes, running for 30 seconds, and then repeating that for 15 minutes total?
That’s setting the bar low.
These are all still challenging goals, but they're achievable.
You may be doing this in some area of your life.
Take a look where you’re trying to do ALL or NOTHING.
That's subtle sabotage, sweetie.
Instead, take your goal way, WAY down to something you know you can do MORE THAN THREE TIMES (in a row).
You can step over a low bar over and over again and then raise it up a little.
That's how you incremently work up to jumping over a high one.
Set the bar low and feel successful enough to keep going.
You've got this.