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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#84: Must to Play Hard to Work Harder

The first thing my manager said to me when I made it into the office “you’re going to Italy tomorrow! Are you excited?” I answered without thinking, “Honestly, I’m nervous about missing work for so long.” Luckily, my manager didn’t like this answer. He said that I should be excited for my trip rather than worried about missing work, and that I picked a good time to travel. I know it sounds totally ridiculous that I was more anxious about missing work than excited about international travel, my response was truthful. I feel the same way about the gym.


I’m choosing to go on this trip, and plan to disconnect while I’m gone. I deleted Slack off my phone for good measure. I’m looking forward to seeing all the sights and eating all the food with my mom in Italy somewhere in the back of my head. I have several long flights ahead of me, maybe I can chalk the anxiousness up to the fact that I have 16 hours of flying to get through before I can enjoy everything that Italy has to show me. always wondered if the pasta in Italy is as good as they say it is. Okay, I know I’m excited.


I need to learn how to take a vacation. I spend so much time and energy to ‘get ahead,’ that it feels like I’ll end up where I started again if I take a break when in reality, I need to take this time to incorporate balance and get more experiences. These are two things that I most definitely lack in comparison to my strengths.


Earlier this week, I looked around the room of the (in-person!) meeting I was leading, and realized that I was the youngest person in the room by many years (15+, honestly). Although being the youngest person and leading the meeting wasn’t necessarily a new experience for me, it was the first time I stopped to recognize it. I’m consistently proving to myself that I’m as capable as anyone, but it also means that I have the least experience of anyone. Each of the leaders in the room has been working incredibly hard since before I was in high school, to get to their respective positions. The more I’m able to respect their experience, the more I can learn from them to leverage their experiences to form my own. I know that my age, and lack of experience will likely be my biggest obstacle for at least the next 15 years if not more, but I plan to use this to my advantage, while doing everything in my power to catch up.

Travel is one way to fast-track life experience, to the extent that life experience can be fast-tracked – Whether it’s a weekend in Vancouver, Portland, or time in Italy with my mom, I’m immersed in an entirely different way of life, and fresh set of perspectives. This helps me to embrace an alternate way of life, and gives me the chance to talk to an entire new group of people. I can reflect and compare it to my own experience to appreciate the differences, and evaluate what I’m doing well or need to improve upon. Travel makes me anxious, because it’s such a change from day-to-day comfort and trusted routines, but that’s why it’s so good for me. I’m in trouble if I become too set in my ways or too opposed to change, especially as I become more comfortable with my current lifestyle.


Furthermore, I need to remember that I’m a proponent of balance, even if I haven’t been executing well recently. I’d rather work fewer hours in the day, and work harder during those hours, so that I can take a break later. Play hard, work harder. These days, I’m not struggling with the idea of work hard. I’m genuinely excited to work towards my goals. Rather, I struggle with the ability to keep my brain on task, when I give my brain so little time to rest and think freely. I need to take the next few weeks to rest and re-charge as much as possible so that I can return to work feeling refreshed, and even more determined than before.


The same thing applies with the gym. I hit some incredible personal records (PRs) last week – 125lbs bench, 185lbs squat, and 275lb deadlift. (+15lbs bench and +20lbs deadlift over previous PRs). I struggled to push myself in the gym for the last year, at least. I was so focused on getting a workout in consistently that I failed to enjoy my lifts to the fullest, and failed to push myself to be better. These are the main two reasons that consistency was my goal in the first place. I allowed so many decision points in my training that I made it more difficult on myself by causing ‘decision fatigue,’ when I needed to plan ahead and simplify. It’s easy to let myself drop the weight down by a few pounds when I’ve just made it to the gym and am already tired, even when I know I could do more if I put in the effort. These days, I’m re-purposing this effort on the lift, rather than on the decision of what to lift.


My current solution is using a power-building workout program I found on the internet. I’ve been programming my workouts for the last 3-4 years, so this was a significant change for me. All I need to do is enter my one rep max lifts, and let the formulas generate the weights for each session. As the weight gets heavier each week, I don’t let myself quit, even if I fail. I’m learning to find comfort in being uncomfortable, because it means that I’m pushing myself to extend my limit in a safe, organized manner. As weight continues to get heavier, I remind myself that I train specifically to hit each next set, and that I’m investing the effort, which means that I’m capable.


On my recent max day, I failed bench and squat several times. Once I exceeded my planned max, I psyched myself out, since I hadn’t specifically trained for the weight, although I know that I’m capable. As anxious as I am to take the next few weeks off, I’m reminding myself that a) this isn’t an off day, or series of off days. This is a vacation. B) my body needs the vacation to recuperate. I’m specifically training to feel like I’m not working hard when I am, but I’m human, and I still need rest, which means allowing myself to enjoy vacation before and return to work again, especially because I’m afraid of a vacation. C) I have to give myself a chance to miss the gym, and remember why I do it each day. If I don’t miss the gym, it’s time to re-evaluate how I choose to spend my limited time on Earth.

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