Goals in Times of Cholera: How to maintain healthy habits during odd times without burning out?
Updated: Jan 8
We woke up one day having to combine work life with family life, having to figure out new technologies overnight, stop relying on family and friend's support, and in some unfortunate cases, dealing with sickness, be it our own or that of a loved one. If you are having a hard time keeping up with your motivation, feeling hopelessness and fear, I'll tell you a story.
At the age of 17, I moved to Caracas to study Journalism. It was a difficult time to be a journalism student in Venezuela. More than once, I had to run and hide to skip bullets, covering my face to avoid breathing tear gases was like a regular commute back home. I wonder many time: Why am I doing this? Why am I studying this career? I was unmotivated to go to school because every morning I woke up to either a protest, an unexpected shooting or a public transportation strike; however, every morning I was not thinking on the final goal- graduation in this case-, instead, my motto was: "I need to finish this paper, try to read somewhere else the lecture that was cancelled and get home before is dark."
After having gone through that, I must be resilient towards this pandemic. However, I've been spending several nights waking up like someone just threw an ice bucket straight to my face. I can't breathe, my heart feels like it is doing a HIIT workout inside my chest, and my legs have the urge to run with no destination.
More than ever, we are exposed to comparison through social media. People who wrote books, achieved business success, crushed their fitness goals and baked their own bread while on confinement deserve an award, they do, but so do the people who are managing homeschool, workload, got laid off and decided to take a needed rest, as well as those caring for sick relatives.
In order to survive unprecedented events, you have to live extraordinarily.
In other words, own it! Forgive yourself. Let it be! Allow yourself and excuse yourself while being mindful that there is something that keeps you breathing, moving and living.
If you want to bake your own bread, do it because it's something you want to try; and then, be ok with the outcome. Like a scientist who embarks on an experiment, not expecting anything, just open to the answers the trial will bring.
But what about goals?
Dori from Finding Nemo says: Just keep swimming!
Maybe it is all about navigating the waves of uncertainty while keeping our heads off the water. We tend to have big expectations and sometimes forget that the road is not always perfect, but you still have to get through it. Home exercise has been a huge helper during these times, but it's easier to feel the lack of motivation and I personally attribute this to burnout. Fitness can be so goal-oriented, which I think is the main reason why many people are continuously trying unsuccessfully. On the other hand not having goals gets you nowhere.
So, what should I do?
These are a few thoughts that have helped me keep my motivation without burning out, not just during hard times, but throughout my entire life no matter what happens.
Pick your Plot
Kelly Clarkson once said: "I wish I had a better metabolism. But someone else probably wishes they could walk into a room and make friends with everyone like I can. You always want what someone else has." Acknowledge your own capabilities and set your own priorities. Ask yourself, how do you want to be remembered?
Take a Chance
You are more likely to challenge the status quo, during moments of sudden change and loss. The beauty of losing too much and hitting the bottom lays in the ability to use the adrenaline defeat has to offer. What else can I lose, if I have lost so much already? the answer could be the boost you need to just go for it.
As Voltaire once stated, doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. Holding on to a constant is riskier than preparing for the variables. Your lifestyle can change, the berries may not be in season and your gym can change the group fitness schedule. Don't wait for the perfect moment. If you can make it work during the odd times, you're better prepared to face any challenge.
I could have dropped out of school, but I didn't. Maybe the outcome was not more important than the opportunity to try. Every day is an opportunity to practice life not because there'll be a reward, but because putting our hands, effort, and passion into something we care about is what makes us feel alive.
🎵 "If you want something to die, keep it still." _ Jorge Drexler