In Atomic Habits, James Clear writes: “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than your current results.”

Lately, I have been very focused on results. I always set a goal each time I row. Because when I do, I know I am rowing with a purpose. It doesn’t matter what type of rowing workout I do, whether it’s high intensity interval training, a distance row, or just a row to focus on technique, I set a goal. I will look at past workouts and analyze the results, see where I did well or could improve then make a goal and create an execution plan. In the room of the house that I row in, I hang a small whiteboard on the wall with that day’s rowing workout plan and goal on it. I hang it right in front of the erg so that I can see it during my workout so that I can focus on the goal.

And the funny thing is that I found I was consistently beating my goal! Woo Hoo! I was doing great – or was I? I mean, after all, don’t we all like to win? I had to think about it. I post most of my results to social media. Was I really beating my goals or was I just setting the bar too low? Was I really improving or was I just looking for wins and likes?

My Worst Critic

I am my worst critic and sometimes brutally honest with myself. So, I decided the bar was too low. I adjusted my goals. I made them more aggressive. And then I started failing. And because I am my worst critic I started getting frustrated that I wasn’t meeting the goals. I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. I raised the goals to make them harder but then was frustrated when I couldn’t meet them. Silly. Weeks went by and I became more and more frustrated. Confused and frustrated my workouts almost (just almost) became unenjoyable. Then a funny thing happened.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Palm City, Florida

At least once a year The Warden and I take a road trip to Florida to visit family. And this month we hit the road again. We drive because we always bring the dog and…my rowing machine! (See my post on Rowed Trip) Our first stop in the Sunshine State is #2 son’s house, in the Orlando area, on the way to Palm City where The Warden’s mom lives. Even though our initial stop is only a few days, I unpack the erg from the car. I have a couple of reasons for this. One, I plan on rowing while I’m there. Two, I always tell The Warden, “If someone steals the car, we can get a rental pretty fast. But if the rower is still in the car when it’s stolen, then I’ll have to wait weeks for a new one!” I usually say this jokingly, but only a little. I like the erg more than the car.

This trip I rowed in my son’s garage. Since I didn’t have my trusty whiteboard to post my goals on I searched the garage for something to use (Paper? Cardboard? Sheetrock?) And then I found it. The children’s chalkboard easel that my grandkids used to use but have since out grown. And there was still chalk in the tray – perfect! I placed the easel in front of my erg, scratched out my goals, and started rowing. When I was finished, I was pleased that I had met my goals even though they were aggressive. However, I was still feeling perplexed. Am I improving or did I set the wrong goal again? I felt like I had worked myself into a ball of confusion. Sweaty and tired, I got off the erg and started putting away the tiny chalkboard.

Then I saw it! I had forgotten that on the other side of the chalkboard was a whiteboard. On the whiteboard was the goals and results of the rowing workout that I did almost exactly a year ago from our last visit. No one had erased it. Then I stopped short and blinked a couple of times. I couldn’t believe it. It was the same exact workout that I just finished! I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. At first I laughed and thought “what a coincidence.” And then i looked a little closer. My times, my “splits” per 500 meters, were 2-3 seconds faster for each interval. I couldn’t believe it. I could actually visualize my improvement from a year ago. While I may not have been hitting certain goals recently, I could now see my trajectory.

Inspiration and Focus

In my last post I wrote about inspiration and where I find it. But in this coincidental moment, at the risk of sounding egotistical, I inspired myself! My positive trajectory made me, not forget, but rather consider my recent goal failures. As I considered them, I reflected on my efforts (I give 100% each time), my mindset (I stay positive regardless of results), and attacking challenges (I set challenging goals all the time). The more I considered it, the better I felt. My sense of confusion dissipated and new sense of focus became clear. Focus on my current trajectory and not my current results.

I sure hope my grandkids don’t erase the chalkboard and whiteboard and I hope their parents don’t throw it out because there is going to be another trajectory check next year!

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