If you hold your personal development (physical and performance-based) to a high level, something you’ll no doubtably experience is the predicament of trying to find some level of balance between your life inside your sport (or the gym) and your life outside of that (work, school, relationships). You’ve likely been sold the myth that you CAN do it all, all the time and be successful. But much like other facets of life, you cannot serve 2 gods. In any one particular season of life, your personal resources need to be geared in the direction of a single priority.
Pending your actual level of resilience and total amount of life stress (emotional, physical, psychological, biochemical, biomechanical), your threshold will be limited and thus you will eventually fail at attempting to get it all done. If your sales quarter at work is finishing up and your training is set to be peaking the same week; it’s likely that your ability to go all in on one or the other will be compromised. In the same fashion that trying to PR your clean and marathon time in the same weekend will not happen. In certain circumstances, a good intensification phase could be just what you need going into the end of sales season; but it would require a highly trained coach that understands the client and the implications of stress on the clients nervous system.
There is a time for everything, and with that it requires athletic maturity and patience to know in your heart that your efforts will be fully taken advantage of and best used when the time is right. Where this all gets muddy is within the aspect of who you are and what your goal is. If your job is not your highest value, and you’re simply collecting a paycheck, then your ability to fully submerge yourself into the ebbs and flows of your training program is somewhat simple. This, however, means you can fully remove yourself from the ‘office-drama’ and noise that comes along with your work environment, as well as navigate your personal relationships in the off hours
To help you organize your goals in all aspects of life, you can frame all of your efforts into three categories; Priority, Auxiliary, and Supplementary. We can all wrap our heads around a Priority, this is where your main efforts go. Whereas we need to view Auxiliary tasks as objectives that need to get done that support the ultimate Priority. Supplementary, on the other hand, is added in based on what the person WANTS and less so what they NEED (in comparison to auxiliary).
Here are some simplified examples in various areas of life:
Priority - 15% increase on back squat to hit 400#
Auxiliary - unilateral single leg strength + sagittal plane isometric core work
Supplementary - Fran on Saturday w/ friends
Priority - big project due this month
Auxiliary - late nights, early morning, additional travel
Supplementary - being a ‘yes-man’ and taking on additional responsibilities outside of set project
Priority - spend time with loved-ones
Auxiliary - finish up some projects around the house
Supplementary - guys/girls-night out with friends, cutting into sleep, increasing booze
A lot of us WANT to do tough training sessions. We want to do MORE training (hours/sessions) per week. But what we can handle is another thing. This isn’t a judgment on your fitness or you as a human; it’s about the best way to spend time in a specific area to reach your goals (your priorities). We all have our stories of burning the candle from both ends and coming out on top; but at what cost and was it really your best efforts in all areas of life? Did it really render the best possible results for your hard work?
The longer we live a specific manner, the more it seems to feel like the baseline and somewhat ’normal’, we become habituated to this feeling. So if you are “healthy” and you are use to 24 oz of coffee per morning but when you cut your coffee out completely, you feel tired and lethargic, you likely became habituated to that baseline of what you thought was “normal”. However, your body will reset its baseline to how you “should” be feeling after cutting out the coffee. Overworking yourself is the same. You “feel fine/normal” but that doesn’t mean you’re not underperforming in one (or all) areas of your life.
Athletic maturity needs honest self-assessment, a subjective look at your own life, as well as an objective/outside view. This means, when you think you’re handling everything in life great right now, let’s ask your spouse/parent/whomever, can give another viewpoint on your life. They may say you’re completely losing it and out of touch with reality, which means we need to step back and assess what our goals and priorities are.
The wrong season of training during any specific season of life can be catastrophic at certain degrees. Getting crushed in the gym and then having to produce high end work at your job does not mix well. Then returning home to give your loved-ones the worse version of yourself doesn’t set you up for success in the long run, nor does it help contribute to a healthy environment that should be supportive and/or nurturing (contributing to better parasympathetic tone).
That being said, planning can be best described as tentative and should be complementary to the other areas of life for best success. The idea of balancing falls as short as that places equal weight to all areas involved within any of the three proposed areas of life. Balancing doesn't allow maximal performance in any of those areas, but simply just completion of tasks with less regard to the outcomes and more about the finishing of an objective.
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