Do you notice that you often lose yourself in the things that you love? And you find yourself there too?
I have seen him twice now. Last Saturday, we were in the same lane. I would launch my lap after him, but he would stop at the middle of the 50 meter-pool to take a rest or tread, then I would overtake. I was sitting on one of the benches that is elevated enough to allow an overview of the whole pool. He is a portly man, who is probably in his late thirties. His labored breathing was apparent on the manner his mouth opens and the way his shoulders rise and fall. But I could not sight a disappointed expression on his face; I saw determination instead. When his breathing pattern returned to normal, he would just smile at those swimming past him and carry on again to the opposite end to complete the remaining distance. I found such spirit so fascinating!
It was a warm afternoon in March last year when I discovered that I like to swim. I was walking with a friend inside a park when I heard the sharp laughters of children nearby. When I drew closer, I saw them playing in the pool, enjoying the water. The first time I set eyes on the blue water of Makati Aqua Sports Arena, I was captivated. My passion was so fervent that in the weekend that followed, I went to the store and bought my swimming outfits and gears.
I brought two of my friends with me. We jumped into the water, but struggled to achieve balance and gain buoyancy. It was hard, really hard! My lungs were complaining loudly every time I attempt a few strokes; I was running out of breath. I sank each time I try to kick and twist my body; I could not float. My body felt heavy and it was made even heavier by the accumulating frustration as the days went on.
Fast forward to the present, I now have a better story to tell. I can now swim with ease and able to complete a thousand meters with a minimal interval in between laps. How did I achieve that? There is something beyond mastering the breathing pattern, arm strokes, body balance, and kicks that made me thrive in the water. It is the mental and emotional elements, which when managed carefully, will work to your advantage, not only in the water, but also in life.
1. Define your purpose.
What do you really want to achieve in life? Do you merely exist or do you live on purpose? Many of us set our goals, but the problem is that they are not specific enough to direct our actions. Define your values, determine what is truly important to you, then align your goals with it. This can prevent you from drifting away. When the waves hit you, when the current flows against you, you will not be washed away because you are swimming toward your goals.
2. Work as hard as you can.
When I was starting out, I was tempted to hire an instructor, but the costs associated with the training pushed me back. I told myself I have to do it on my own. So, I resolved to double my efforts by spending as long as five hours in the pool on weekends. How much time and effort are you willing to give for that dream of yours?
3. Just keep going.
Frustration is a part of life. It is normal to feel frustrated when things do not turn out the way we want them to be, but this should not stop you from going. Little success at the beginning should encourage you to strive harder. We are all works in progress, and life is a matter of learning new skills and unlearning old habits that are not helping us grow.
4. Activate the child in you.
Do you still remember the time in your childhood when you saw that nice toy in the store and told your mother you wanted it? Your mother said you could not have it because it was expensive and that you still have some toys in your playroom. But you insisted, cried loudly, until the eyes of other shoppers were on you. Embarrassed, your mother gave up and your heart was jumping at having that coveted toy. That attitude of an innocent yet powerful and persistent child, you need it again!
5. Trust the process.
You will learn at the right time. Do you think others are performing better than you? Do not compare for you are unique. When you do comparisons, envy finds a perfect opportunity to attack, and you will become bitter. Admire those people instead. Find out what are the things they are doing that you are not doing and try to apply them to yourself. If they do not suit you, try to modify them. If they still do not work, then you will have to find your own way.
6. Be intrinsically motivated.
In the first few sessions, I tagged two friends along so we can support and motivate each other. Over time, they have stopped, but I continued. If your motivation comes from within, no external circumstance can keep you from achieving what you want. Do not give up the battle…even when you are left fighting alone.
7. Lose yourself.
Water has become my new world. I discovered that I am at peace whenever my body is in contact with the water. There is always a refreshing feeling all over me every time I come out of the water. It is as if the troubled part of myself has been dissolved in the water and my spirit has been renewed. When you get tired, take a break. Forget about the whole world and leave your troubles behind. Take time to enjoy life, savor every moment of it.
8. Be grateful, always.
Celebrate every achievement with thanksgiving in your heart. Thank your ultimate Source of Strength for the water that gives you life, for the air that lets you breath, for every blessing that you have received and yet to receive. Be grateful also for the people you encountered, those who put you down and those who lift you up.