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Life Lessons from an Unexpected Source

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UntitledThe week after Thanksgiving, feeling remorseful after all the gluttony that ensued over the holiday weekend, I decided to drag myself to my favorite spin class. I expected to feel energized and accomplished from a nice, intense workout, but I didn’t expect that I would also come away reminded of some of life’s most important lessons.

Jogging on that bike jogged my memory of four key life lessons!

  1.    You will get much further if you take breaks along the way

When I hop on that bike, my goal is to get through the next 45 minutes of heart pumping cardio without falling off or passing out. Lucky for me, Avery, my awesome instructor, sets us up for a pattern of high intensity followed by a rest period. This plan makes sense since none of us are superhuman.

If we know to take a breather during a workout, why don’t we always remember to do so in life? It may sound like an abomination, but indeed many of us push ourselves too hard. We need to remember to slow down from time to time, take the well-deserved breathers to appreciate our accomplishments, and re-charge for the next “sprint.” Without these breaks, burnout is inevitable.

How many of you go through your day without lifting your eyes from your computer and cell phone? How many of you take “fresh air” breaks?

Takeaway: If you make it a point to give yourself regular “rest periods,” you will last a lot longer in the race of life.

  1.    You can achieve a lot more than you think, but sometimes you can’t do it alone

There was a moment in spin class where my self-doubt started to creep in. I was convinced that I had nothing left in me to keep going. As I was about to give up, dropping my RPMs from 100 to 90, I heard my instructor’s motivating voice through the speaker: “Don’t you give up on me now – I know you want to slow down, but you have it in you to keep going!” That mini pep talk was all I needed to get out of my head and put my energy back into my legs. I even increased the RPMs to 105.

The truth is when you start to waiver and lose your conviction, having someone encouraging you will help you climb higher than you ever thought possible.

Takeaway: Find a mentor, friend, partner or coach that can help you stay the course, send encouragements along the way, and you will accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

  1.    Momentum is underappreciated

Spinning bikes are equipped with a weighted flywheel in the front that picks up speed as you pedal. The greater you set your resistance the harder it is to start pedaling but if you pedal through that initial resistance, the flywheel goes ever faster, making it easier to pedal once the initial resistance has been overcome.

The point is that Avery kept harping on us to pump up the resistance, give our legs just one more push and let the momentum of the flywheel do the rest. I have to admit, I was skeptical. How can increasing resistance make this easier? I decided to trust him and was shocked to find out that after the initial strain on my legs, the momentum of flywheel really did do the hard work for me.

Takeaway: The hardest part is getting started. Once you get going, momentum will be your best friend.

  1.     Preparation, preparation, preparation

I learned very early on in my spinning days that if I don’t set my bike up properly, optimizing seat height and alignment, I am bound to have a really crappy ride—knees inflamed, back pain, etc. Fortunately, I was on top of that. However, I did forget to bring a water bottle.

Now, imagine a spin class without water – doesn’t make for a pretty picture does it? While everyone else was sipping and spinning, I found myself getting off the bike to run to a water fountain. Unsurprisingly, my momentum and efficiency suffered.

Takeaway: When you aren’t prepared you are bound to have to compensate and give something up, taking away from your performance or confidence. Put more effort into your preparation, and you will have to give up a lot less later.

And lastly, I want to leave you with a quote that kept spinning through my mind as I was about to hit the wall in spin class:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch

…so does a spin class ;)

-Helen Dayen is the founder and CEO of Dayen Group. She is a career development & communication coach.

Through the Dayen Group, an executive coaching company focused on the financial services industry, NYSSA offers career and interview prep coaching packages to members at discounted rates. Please click here to explore available coaching packages and schedule your appointment.

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