I mentioned the other day that I’ve been feeling stuck in neutral. I was writing about money in that post, but honestly, I feel that way about a whole lot of things in my life right now.
On the plus side, neutral is not reverse. So I decided to work on something pretty concrete that had hit reverse- my stupid New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds. I had been creeping along just fine until summer hit and then I wasn’t.
So instead of just sighing at the fact that my jeans were no longer getting looser, I shut up, hunted down my swimsuit and hit the gym. For the first time in a shamefully long time.
When I got to the gym, the pool was in exactly the sort of state I hate. 3 or more people in every lane, including a lot of little, old Chinese ladies who just walk with one of those kickboards up and down the lane in every single lane.
Lady, seriously, it says fast and medium lane for a reason. If you are literally walking, the lane labeled loafer is for you. Sigh. / rant.
The last few times I’d actually made it to the gym, this happened and I jumped right in the pool, swam for 5 minutes, got really angry and left.
But I had gotten there a little early, so I decided I would sit in the hot tub for 15 minutes and stare down the little, old Chinese ladies see if the pool cleared out enough to not make me want to tear my eyeballs out trying to swim in it.
And it did.
Lesson #1: Patience.
This applies to lots of financial things, but for me lately patience is a big issue. I never have as much money as I want to put into savings and I’m always impatient to get to the next month and the next goal.
Maybe if I just enjoyed the “hot tub” of debt-freeness while I wait for the right time to do other things, I would be a little less impatient. There’s some way to find joy in every stage of accomplishing your goals.
Since the pool was now in perfect swimming mode – and by that I mean I had a lane all to myself – I decided I was swimming for at least 30 minutes and it could not be sissy swimming. I had to swim at least 500m (20 laps) before taking a breather, which is actually a big deal for me even when I’m swimming regularly.
Lesson #2: Sometimes Just Shut Up and Do It
Financially, am I short $200 for the latest goal? Then shut up and stop spending money. Don’t go hang out with friends this week or invite them to stay in and watch a movie.
Or hustle twice as hard. Sometimes you just have to commit to the hard thing and do it.
One of the things I love about swimming, which I had sort of forgotten, is that Zen moment when I’ve stopped counting my strokes or laps and my head just clears. This is actually how I wrote most of my Master’s thesis – the majority of the ideas happened while I was swimming.
I was actually remembering how incredible the pool I swam in during grad school was. The gym I happened to join there was one of the Olympic training facilities in England, so the pool was absolutely gorgeous.
It’s pretty standard to swim laps that are 25m each way. When I first started swimming there, it was a major struggle to make it to the other side of the pool. I would be gasping for breath and holding on to the wall for dear life when I got there.
I had a mental block about being able to turn and swim right back to the other side.
The thing about the pool in England though was that while the pool was set up for lap swimmers to swim 25m most of the time, when there were swim meets, they would switch over the pools so that instead of 15 lanes going across one way that were 25m, there were 8 lanes going in the other direction that were 50m.
The first time I showed up to swim right before or after a meet, I looked at the pool and nearly had a heart attack. I knew there was no way I could swim all 50m without stopping and the pool was too deep to just stop midway.
But I was there. I had to at least try, right?
So I jumped in and without that wall there letting me think I could stop, I made it all the way across the pool – 50m – without stopping.
Which is a little funny to me now. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
After a few months, I preferred when the pool was set up that way – I always wound up swimming further.
Lesson #3: You Can Do More Than You Think You Can
I think this lesson applies to so much in life, but financially – you can always push yourself a little harder. Whether it’s to get up earlier and get more done in the morning to increase a hustle or cut back more and save more money – there’s always a way to get ahead.
You just have to find the wall and figure out how to get rid of it.