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On the trail, there is one universal truth we all learn as a beginner. If you look at it, you'll hit it. It's a classic case: "Oh no, big rock! Big rock! Ouch!" Oh yeah, you know you've done it (I won't tell). We bikers learn this one extremely quickly because - let's face it - falling off our bike always hurts. Even though keeping your eye on where you're going is a simple truth, it's a struggle each time to stay focused on the trail when a big rock is ahead.
It's the same in life. You look at it - you will hit it. Only the rocks we hit in life hurt a lot more than the ones on the trail, as we know all too well.
Instead, look where you want to go and at what you want to be. Not what you're afraid of. It's so easy to focus on what's big and scary, when in fact the way to the other side of any obstacle is to focus on the path. In biking we like to look over a path and choose the best route. We call this "picking your line." So pick your line and stick to it. (I saw you just peek at that rock).
We've all let our gaze go astray. I want that job, but I focus on the fear of not getting it. I want this relationship, but in the process I grow afraid of what I might have to give up. Everything we want has fears that come with it.
The key is in the midst of the fear, look beyond it. I know you're thinking "it's a lot easier said than done." And you're right. It's not easy. But, if you are aware of what fears make you fall down over and over again, you can move forward. Deep down, you know exactly what you're afraid of. If you don't think you do, spend five minutes saying various things you might be afraid of in your situation and your body will tell you exactly which one is yours. Your stomach never lies. It's time to tell those fears, "I'm better than you! I choose to look at my path and ignore you, you big, painful rock. Take that (stick out your tongue here)!" Look at what will take you past the obstacles and the fears - the path.
Big rocks are scary, but everything worth having takes dedication. So go ahead – you can make it over more than you think! Start by noticing when a fear is ahead and you're tempted to focus on the rock. Rather than pretending it's not there, acknowledge it (rocks are too heavy to evaporate, so you'll have to deal with its presence somehow). Then refocus. Where are you going? You can't stop halfway down the trail just because you come across something you can't ride. If necessary, you get off your bike, walk around it or find another path, and keep going. Maybe next time you can ride the trail better, but for now you're just focusing on following your path. You can do it!
Keep Your Feet on the Pedals
Okay, you've got your path lined up, you're focused on where you want to go, and it's time to truly go for it. Pedal, pedal, pedal, don't touch those brakes, and don't dare put your feet down.
I know your heart is pounding, and you might be scared. It's steep, that's a super big rock, and maybe you've never ridden this trail before or - even scarier - maybe you did it before and completely wiped out. But the truth is, you have the skills and the courage - you just need to trust yourself. You know who you are, what you can do, and you have the gear you need. You know you better than anyone else. Your internal compass won't lead you astray, so trust and keep those feet on the pedals!
It's amazing what we can do when we finally learn to let go of riding the brakes and instead trust ourselves (as well as our great gear). Putting on the brakes in the challenging spots guarantees really big falls. And really big falls hurt! A lot!
Once you've decided to go for it, no matter what "it" is in your life, don't hold back. Let yourself glide over those bumpy parts, knowing that the truth - your truth - is that if you hang on and keep going, you'll make it through. I know it works because I have scars from letting the fear take over (as I'm sure you do too!). Brakes are never good in the tough parts.
Go for it all the way and don't hold anything back! Make the ride happen.
In these moments of facing great fear, we find a great truth - we can do so much more than we ever thought possible, both on and off the trail. The courage and skill are all there, inside you.
You can do it, and deep down, you know it. So keep those feet on the pedals.
Sometimes Getting to the Trailhead is the Hardest Part
Sometimes it just feels like so much work to get out. First, there's collecting your gear, then you've gotta find some friends to show up. You've gotta pack up your stuff, load your bike onto the car (unless you are one of the incredibly blessed people who live close enough to ride from your door), and once you get there you're gonna have to do some real work to get going up that first hill.
But we all know how great it feels after about 8 minutes on the trail. Your body finally figures out what you're doing, you start taking deep, cleansing breaths, and the feelings of freedom and fun are intoxicating. That's when you're so glad you got out, and the feeling of gratitude takes over for the chance to be there, complete with friends, exercise, and most of all - fun!
While this first step is the most important, it's also the hardest. Getting out the door can be excruciating. But that's okay – just be sure to show up. It's rarely as bad as you imagined. You never know what you'll find, and there's always something to learn, a new way to grow, or wonderful people to meet.
Whatever trail you're riding in your life - whether it's a job, a house, a relationship or a new project - make it to the trail head. No matter what happens, you'll be glad you showed up!
Okay, great idea, but how are you going to get off the couch? Start with just one thing.
You pick it, but get started. Head slowly but surely to your trailhead of life! Make a phone call, pick up 10 things off the floor, wash 3 dishes or promise yourself to go somewhere and stay at least 8 minutes - whatever goal works for you that you can actually accomplish. Once you've done it, it's amazing how often you become motivated to do a little more, and then a little more after that. And before you know it, you're on the trail having a blast pedaling towards whatever future you want.
Which, by the way, we all know is so much more fun than staying home and feeling bad. Even if you get scared or fall, you made it out there, and that's more than a lot of folks can say.
Life is just waiting for you to show up ... now's your chance! It's your life, it's your ride, go make it happen. I promise you won't regret it. The fear will fade away and you'll find yourself in the amazing world of life, full of excitement, learning, heartache, laughter, tears, joy, sadness, and love. It's all waiting for you- just show up! Get to that trailhead.
Every Ride, Do One Thing that Scares You
I know it's hard. You're asking yourself, "What if I fall?" And you're especially wondering, "What if I fall in front of that cute guy, or that amazing girl?" Forget about that - you can do it anyway. If you make the effort and keep your feet on the pedals you'll make it over a lot more terrain than you ever thought you would. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't let silly thoughts get in the way.
One great (and exhilarating) way to grow is to do something that scares you. What is something in your life that terrifies you? Dancing? Presentations? Volleyball? Everyone has something. It's time to take on that something. Tell your fears straight up that "I ain't listenin' to you no more! I will be brave and I will try something new and scary. I have nothing to fear – if I fail, I'll learn and try again." Success does not arise from what you think your limitations are. It comes from your determination to grow and learn.
No beating yourself up allowed. Part of doing something that scares you is acknowledging the fact that you might not get it right. That it's okay. - What's important is that you tried. No matter the results, you will know you're growing and learning and getting closer to being able to ride the trail you set out to conquer. Really, if life's not about growing and learning, what do we live for?
That's right, fear, you're so outta here!
So let's say you gave that particular path a shot, and you're still not making it up that huge hill, or you hit a rock, or you got off your bike and walked. No reason to give up. Maybe watch someone else do it, or ask for tips from someone you know is great at it. People love to help each other out - we all feel valuable and meaningful when we do. Let your friends help you when they are more skilled at something. They can show some love, you know!
Excerpted from 7 Secrets to Success I Learned From My Bike by Katie Schmatz Copyright © 2010 by Katie Schmatz. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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