Knock Over Some Spinning Plates With Your Big Rocks

Huh? What's that title mean? It really does have something to do with bicycling. Let me explain.

It's almost autumn. The road season is winding down. If you've been serious about your training and racing, you've got a log book to look back at. Now is the time to do some post-season analysis. Check to see if you've met your expectations for the season. Did you place as well as you wanted? Did you peak for your A-priority races? What went wrong? Failures are only truly failures if you don't learn anything from them. If you can find a lesson in a failure, then chalk that up to a successful learning experience. You are not a failure.

Are You Spinning Too Many Plates?

Maybe you didn't get the consistent training done that you planned. Why not? Here's where the plate spinning metaphor starts. We've all got complicated lives. They are complicated because we've got a variety of priorities pulling at us from the variety of roles we play. Yes, we're athletes. But we are also: husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, employees, managers, volunteers, etc., etc. I think you get the picture. Just look at that photo up there...

We are complicated people with many roles to play in our lives. And like a Chinese acrobat, we can have many plates we're trying to spin - all at the same time. And you know what? Sometimes, you'll drop a few plates. What can you do about that?

Change Your Metaphor For Life

At the risk of confusing you by mixing my metaphors, let's throw a few rocks at those plate spinners. Wow, wouldn't that cause some chaos! But maybe not if we do it right...

If you didn't execute your training plan as consistently as you wanted, you must reorganize your priorities so you can. And you can do it.

A number of years ago I read Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. It's a general personal productivity book that had some life-changing lessons for me. It finally spurred me on from thinking I'd like to be a competitive cyclist to actually being a competitive cyclist. Here's one of the key metaphors Covey presented.

A Jar, Some Rocks and Some Water

Think of an empty jar. Fill it to the top with water. Then, put some rocks in it. What happens to the water? It overflows, and you've got a mess.

Now, rethink that process. Put the rocks in the jar first. Then start filling it with water. Go ahead. You'll be able to get some water in the jar. See? It simply flows around the rocks and fills the empty spaces. You can also stop filling the jar before the damn thing overflows.

What's this mean to you? Those rocks are the big priorities in your life. They come from all the key roles you play. The water is every thing else that's not a priority, that comes along to take up your time. Put the rocks in the jar first. Schedule the really important activities in your week first. Then let the other less important activities fill in any remaining gaps. The rocks come first, no matter what. Everything else must fit around those rocks. Follow that rule, and you'll really start to go places in life.

Identify Your Big Rocks

Don't be a Chinese acrobat spinning all kinds of plates. Switch to the rock, water and jar metaphor, and you will execute your training plan next year without fail.

Get a blank sheet of paper. Here's what you should do now:
  1. Write down all the roles you play in life. Think about your work. Think about your relationships. Think about your personal dreams. These are the roles that define you as a person in this world.
  2. For each role, think about the activities that will really move you forward to improving your abilities to be the world's best at that role. Check my earlier post on how you can define being the world's best. These activities are the foundational rocks for your weeks ahead.
  3. Each week, take those rocks, and schedule time for them. Make them priorities. Treat them as immovable rocks that everything else must fit around. Your daily cycling workouts should be some of those rocks. Treat them like that. Schedule your other activities around your workouts, and you'll soon find you're not missing nearly as many workouts as before. You'll be well on your way to becoming the world's best cyclist.

Will it work for you?

Photo "Spinning plates" by: ericaflynn

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