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The Accountability Network

About this time last year, I was getting ready to make some pretty big changes in my life.  I was making a career move.  I got offered a great job, closer to home, which meant I no longer needed to commute to Dublin from Kildare each day.  It also meant changing gym.  I had been training at a strength and conditioning facility in Tallaght for about 3 years at that point.  After a bit of Googling, I found another great facility to train at, which was minutes from my home.  So, I made the switch, and honestly just assumed I could pick up where I left off.  I was wrong.

You see, I had gotten into a great routine in Tallaght.  Leaving work each day and heading straight to the gym, no exceptions.  I never had to think about whether I particularly wanted to go or not, I just sort of auto-piloted myself there each evening.   As well as this, I had built some great relationships there.  I was friendly with my coaches and there was a great sense of camaraderie in the classes.  I really had not anticipated how much I was going to miss this.

So, I left my little pond in Tallaght, and starting swimming in the big pond in Kildare.  I loved the training, and the coaches were great, but for some reason, which I couldn’t figure out, it just wasn’t coming easy.  I really enjoyed the classes, but had to drag myself there.  I felt awkward and unfamiliar, instead of comfortable and at ease.  I never managed to get to the gym as often as I had planned and started to beat myself up about it.  For want of a better expression, I had completely lost my mojo, and try as I might, I couldn’t figure out the root cause.

I remember when I told my father about starting the new job he had said “you won’t know yourself,” and to be honest, that was exactly how I was starting to feel.  I love training, and my family and friends even playfully called me a “gym junkie” so why was I having such a hard time getting my head back in the game?  Why was I finding this transition so difficult?  People change gyms all the time and do just fine.  What the hell was wrong me with me?

As the months went by, it slowly became clear to me what was missing.  I no longer had my accountability network.  In my old gym, I was a familiar face to all, and if I went missing, it wouldn’t be long before someone would be checking in with me.  In the new place, I was the little, anonymous fish.  Nobody would notice if I was there or not.  In Tallaght, there was a regular group of  girls (and guys) I trained with and the friendly competition between us was often what spurred me on.  This too was absent now.  Not that it wasn’t happening, just that I wasn’t yet a part of it.

So, now that I knew what the problem was, what was I going to do about it?  Unfortunately, as adults, we don’t often feel comfortable asking people if they want to be our friend!  The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me.  I didn’t want to train regularly because I felt apart from everything, but the only solution to that was to train regularly!  If the accountability network didn’t exist for me, I needed to build it.  I was the new person, so it was up to me to make the effort.  As a friend of mine often says “you have to go along, before you can get along!”

It has struck me recently how often situations like this come about.  How we so often are faced with doing something, which feels alien and uncomfortable in order to reach the end goal.  Sometimes the very thing we need to do feels so very counter-intuitive, that we almost back away from it entirely.  It is often said that to be successful, whether it be with your weight-loss, your training, or even in your career, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I agree with this, however, I would say that it’s not necessary to stay uncomfortable.  Once you get your foot in the door, start asking the question, “what would make this easier for me?” and once you have the answer, act accordingly.

For many of us, change doesn’t come easily.  In my situation, the career change was actually much easier than changing gym.  I know how odd that sounds.  The only thing I can put it down to, is that I expected the change in job to be challenging, where as I had greatly underestimated how hard leaving my network would hit me.  It’s an awful feeling when something, which was easy before, suddenly becomes difficult.  My rational mind kicked in and told me that if I just stuck with it, that it would eventually come good.  And, to a greater or lesser extent it has.

I love my new job.  It’s much more enjoyable and challenging than any other role I have had.  It also demands a lot more of me than other jobs, and so sometimes things like training have to take a back seat.  I am learning to be okay with this.  Gym junkie no more?  Perhaps, but I am figuring out new ways to define myself xxx

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