I Finished Last… (and it was AWESOME!!!)

Confession:

I’m no more disciplined or motivated than anybody else.

But there are a few tricks I use that work like gangbusters.

That’s how I went from barely being able to stand up on cross country skis…

…to completing a 10-km/6-mile event only 13 days later.

(Sure, I came home in last place, but it was an absolute blast and I can’t wait to do it again!)

And here’s the best part:

These tricks are universal and can be used right now, today.

So you can smash through procrastination, make serious progress and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, have a ton of fun!

Here’s how you do it…

1. Get Leverage on Yourself

Fundamentally, I put myself in a position where I couldn’t back out.

• I told everyone I could that I would be doing the event

(Even though I hadn’t even tried cross country skiing at that point)

• When I bumped into my friend, Saori, I asked her to coach me

(Saori is an elite-level athlete, having trained with the Japanese national cross country skiing team)

• I forked out over $500 on equipment

(There’s no way I’m spending that kind of money on something I’m not going to use)

• I registered for the event along with my wife and two sons

(Both my sons got really excited, and there was no way I was going to disappoint them)

And what did all this leverage achieve?

The all-important step of getting me to my first cross country skiing lesson, just 13 days before the event.

And, boy, was I in for a shock…

2. Focus on the Positive

Look, I’ll be totally honest here.

Halfway through the first lesson, I really felt like quitting.

Why?

Because even standing up on those pencil-thin skis felt im-fricking-possible.

I fell over backwards and sideways.

I face planted.

I sucked! 

All in front of the calm and patient Saori-sensei…

But all that leverage meant there was no way to back out.

So, I shifted my focus away from perceived “failure” and towards success.

Stuff like:

Not falling over is an improvement 

Going just a few feet farther than before is an improvement

Forgetting the things I’d messed up and concentrating on the (few) things I’d gotten right

Not beating myself up when I made a mistake

And guess what?

By the end of the lesson, I was actually starting to enjoy it!

But I knew that alone wasn’t anywhere near enough…

3. Keep the Momentum Going

So, what was the first thing I did when the lesson ended?

Arrange and pay for more, there and then.

(If I hadn’t, it would’ve been way too easy to make a bunch of excuses and let things slide)

Make no mistake, this is a critical time.

It’s a bit like lighting a fire – the flame is really weak at first, and it needs to be nurtured.

So over the next few days, I jumped on my skis in the backyard at home.

If nothing else, I could practice not falling over for a few minutes.

Over the next week, I had three more lessons, and I could feel myself improving each time.

That’s the great thing about starting something new – the rate of progress at the beginning is just incredible.

And by the time I got to the event, I was really pumped about tackling the course.

4. Have Fun!

The event itself was one of the coolest things I’ve done in a long time.

Even though the conditions were pretty grim, and the first descent was butt-clenchingly steep.

I spent an unforgettable couple of hours in beautiful surroundings with my 8-year-old son, James…

…and met some amazing people.

Like the 70-something ex-solider who was marshaling the course, and skied with us for the last 2 miles to make sure we were OK.

His encouragement meant so much to us both.

And even though we came home in last place (and I managed to fall over right in front of the finish line…), it felt like a victory.

Not over anybody else but over our own fears and doubts.

That’s the pay off.

Look, while taking action always requires effort, it’s dwarfed by all the good stuff you gain as a result.

It’s like investing $100, and getting $5,000 in return.

Bottom line:

Play whatever mental tricks you need to take those first few steps because the rewards are orders of magnitude bigger

Then, once you’ve hit your goal, it’s time to start thinking about…

5. The Next Goal

The reality is I started thinking about cross country skiing while I was riding high on the feeling of finishing my first marathon back in October.

I wanted more.

So, it’s already time to focus on the next goal.

Fortunately, there’s a cross country skiing competition just down the road in a couple of weeks.

I’ve already committed to doing it with my friend, Nicolas – the only question is whether we tackle the 10-km (6 mile) or the 30-km (18 mile) course.

We’ll need to get Saori’s advice about that :)

But whichever we decide to do, I know it’ll be another awesome experience.

Believe me, there’s so much win to be had from applying these few simple tricks.

Just try them for yourself and see.

– Tim

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Azusa Uehara

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