It happens to all us amateur athletes, but I think it can tend to be more complicated with those of us with a family and a very involving career: There are times when "real-life" has to take priority over the "fantasy life" of training as an elite athlete.
Now don't get me wrong. Elite athletes are not living a fantasy life. But there are those of us who would LOVE to be an elite athlete, but are restricted by the time required to achieve performance at that level (and talent in my case).
At the moment, my professional life (i.e. the part of my life paying the bills) is experiencing a welcome flare-up in work complexity, volume, importance, responsibility, and urgency. It tends to settle back into something predictable, but for now, I'm swamped. And to be honest, I'm really enjoying it. I also have a 22-month old son, a wife who has a time-consuming career in law, two dogs, a nanny, a house, and a mortgage. Not atypical. What is atypical is that I still have that nattering urge to become the best athlete I can be.
Most of my posts are about how I try to be successful in athletics while tending to my "real-life". This post is a bit different: How to be successful in "real-life" while tending to my athletics:
Rule 1: Find your balance.
Rule 2: You can miss a workout or a race for a good reason, but really make sure it's a good reason and not just an excuse. It's ok if that's for several days/weeks/months straight. But really be honest and strive for Rule 1.
Rule 3: Prioritize your current best opportunity for the success you want, at any given time. This means that if your opportunities are at work, with your family, your friends, or with your sport, be sure to chase the most promising one with the best potential. If you let a great opportunity pass you by, it may not come by again. But remember Rule 1.
Rule 4: To set yourself up to take advantage of opportunities aligned to your definition of success, do what's required to keep those opportunities open and tend to all of them. Do not let them slide.
Rule 5: Be honest with the people in your life about where you want to focus. Transparency means you can gain fans not foes.
So following these rules, since November I have prioritized work over family and training, keeping an eye on Rule 1 and 4. I have had a rare opportunity to push my career forward very significantly very quickly. If I had prioritized training, I would have missed this chance. But following Rule 4 means I have found time for family and found time to maintain my fitness base. I also cut calories immediately and made the switch to early nights and mornings to get important workouts done.
The result: My career is on a steep rise. My little family is having a ton of fun together. My fitness is way ahead of last year at this time and only 10% off my peak from last year. If I looked at my decisions as investments, I'd say I have a healthy portfolio.
I won't lie though. I would really like to have been far ahead of my fitness from last year already. I know that if this was my best opportunity for life success, I would have focused here. And it really was a big opportunity. But my biggest opportunity from Nov to now has been at work. In fact it's let me afford converting my garage to my pain cave for efficient training. Win-win.
So for those in the same boat, give yourself a break and remember the rules. If you have more rules, please comment on this post.