We often see pictures of people doing things we admire and assign stories to what they are doing. We may assume that it’s easy for them, they have it all “figured out,” and that their lives aren’t as difficult or chaotic as our own.
In today’s podcast, I am trying something new. I took a moment where I was overcoming stress and frustration, and decided to record how I was processing it in the moment. It happened to be that I was also on a bike ride, and I brought you with me as I was riding a beautiful climbing trail.
You’ll hear many familiar themes, but most importantly, I talked about how we all have an idea of how we want our plans to go. Oftentimes, something gets in the way and disrupts our plan and can throw us off. Since having children, I’ve had a crash course in learning to be flexible with my plans and the art of trusting an imperfect process.
- The challenge of shifting priorities
- The actions you take add up: small imperfect actions matter
- The importance of celebrating small wins
- Being brave means showing up imperfectly
- The importance of the big picture
- Recognizing when you’re assigning perfection to others and that it’s not true
- Acceptance and reaching for more
- The role self-compassion in expectations
LISTEN TO SONYA
Intro to this episode. 0:14
Behind the scenes of my morning. 1:29
What it’s like to be a cyclist. 3:08
It’s going to make a difference. 4:45
The only day I get to ride my bike this week. 6:54
The importance of flexibility. 9:07
Labeling your emotions. 11:09
Intro to the run. 13:14
Letting go of expectations of yourself. 15:08
How do you do it all? 17:39
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Sonya Looney: So I’m going to try something unique for this podcast episode. And I don’t even know if this is going to turn out, you know, can even hear me you’re going to be worth publishing. However, I have a lot on my mind right now. And a lot of people have been telling me that narrative, super important. downhill section. Only my bike, alright, so this is going to be sort of a stream of consciousness episode while you ride this climb trail with me. So the narrative of our lives is really important, and it’s really relatable. And a lot of times, we see people’s outcomes. And we also put an ideal to that outcome. So you might, if I were to take a picture on today’s ride, or video and post it, you probably assign these thoughts to it. She has everything together. She’s super strong. She’s doing it all. She isn’t having any trouble. And, or maybe that’s just the ideals that I put when I see somebody online posting things. And I thought it’d be an important point to make that that’s not true. So I thought I would go behind the scenes of how my morning went, because it was incredibly frustrating for me today. And it doesn’t happen often. But I’m sort of hit a breaking point, I get too overwhelmed with too many things, or too much pressure that I’ve put on myself to execute in a certain way. So I just sent out this email to my sponsors and to brands that I hope will want to work with me in the future that I’m really working on. That’s a whole other conversation. And since a frustration in that I’ve lost the majority of my sponsors. last three years, since having kids and since being unable to travel, train, race and do everything, I just can’t do it at the same level I was before because I want to be with my family. I don’t want to just be gone all the time. So anyway, so I was sending out this email. And I summarized what I did in June. And after I reflected back, it was crazy. I thought, How the heck did I manage to do all that I did three races, I did this workshop that was really well attended and better than I expected, and all these things on the go. But you’d look at that and think was incredible. But behind the scenes is really hard. And it’s frustrating most of the time. I always feel like I’m falling short, when I’m falling behind. Like everybody else has it easier than me. And I know these things aren’t true. But I just wanted to share those thoughts and emotions because all of us feel that way. And we look at people who are achieving things like you might, some people might look at me that way. And think I don’t feel that way. Every day is hard. It’s my mindset that gets me through. I’m an optimist, I choose a way of talking to myself, called My senatore style, making sense of what’s happening in my life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get frustrated. But I don’t want to give up. Honestly, I want to give up a lot and I want to quit when I quit being a profound beggar want to quit my podcast. Maybe I should just give up everything that I’ve worked for and stay home with my kids because I feel bad when my daughter cries when I put on my cycling jersey every day because she knows I’m leaving. Those are all normal feelings. That’s how you make sense of them. And I know that no matter how small, the step forward, no matter how small the movement is, when I move that ball forward. It’s going to make a difference. But it might not be fulfilling in the moment. It might not feel good or like I’m special or I’m making a difference. When I zoom out, I know that it does. And something that’s been really hard about having a three year old, and a one year old and continuing to race, at the front of these ultra endurance events is that I’ve had to become flexible. That is in my nature. I very driven. And I know what I want. And I go after it, unapologetically. And I’ve always done that. But now, I can’t do that in the same way. If I want to prioritize my family, which I do. And I’m also being careful with my words there, because that’s a choice. Right? Like, you get to I can’t do something which some cases you can’t. But many of us have a choice with the things that we put our energy into the way we choose to live our life. So I’m not going to say I can’t, because I’m choosing this choice, does it mean that it doesn’t come with entire layer of things that you’re missing out on are things that you wish were different. So consistency is a value to me. And I like to be consistent with everything that I do. That has helped me achieve many great things. But I can’t be consistent right now, I’m not consistent right now. Because I’m committing to too many things. But I’m not going to back away from that I’m not going to stop doing my podcasts, I’m not going to stop coaching, I’m not going to stop spending time with my kids and having a nanny six hours a day instead of eight or nine or 10 hours a day. Because when I look big picture, I know how I want to feel. So going back to this morning, had big plans to do a long ride. This is the only day this week, I get to ride my bike, because we’re going to San Francisco for a wedding. And I’m really excited to see family and to do all that. In the past, I would have brought my bike just to do one ride. So that I wouldn’t miss out on my training schedule. But with our family situation, that’s going to add a lot of stress to bring my bike to do one ride. And one of the reasons I started running was to give myself some flexibility whenever we’re traveling. So I can still train but not to my bike. I can’t, my body isn’t ready to train running four days in a row. So I’m not taking my bike. So this is the only day I get to ride my bike. That means that there’s a lot of pressure on this ride that I’ve put on it, it has to be a certain way it has to be, I have to feel a certain way for it to count. If it’s not, then that means that my race isn’t gonna go well my or my training, and my fitness is just going to continue falling off. And that is a false set of beliefs. That’s a negative explanatory style. That isn’t a way of thinking all or none. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pop up in my head. So wanted to get out early this morning. I worked on my bike yesterday, I made time for it so that I can just get out and go ride. But I made a mistake in my mechanic work, because I was in a hurry. And so my bike wasn’t ready. And now I had to spend another 30 minutes, getting stuff ready and lost 30 minutes of valuable training time for my one ride this week. I can’t catch it on the other side, because I have appointments and commitments in my business part of my life. So I can just add on later. And the thing that Matt and I talk about parenting is used to be able to just squeeze it in later if you miss something or can do something and a lot harder to do now. So I was angry. Actually, this is what I mean by breaking point actually felt sick to my stomach. Because I was so mad about my schedule falling off. This has happened in the past to this rigidity around the schedule having to be a certain way. So much better about this, but the flexibility piece was saying okay, like this isn’t going to be the way that I wanted it to be not thinking in terms of permanence here like because it’s not this way Everything’s ruined. Because it’s not this way. I’m not going to be fit enough for my next race. And I realized that we put so much pressure on an ideal put so much pressure that something has to be a certain way. Sort of a perfectionist way of thinking If it’s not that way, then everything else is a lot.
Something that I’ve really had to learn is that showing up and doing less than perfect, I mean less than perfect process. So gets you places, being rigid. And having a perfect process doesn’t mean that you’re going to be successful. I have many examples, think of examples in your life where you didn’t have that perfect process, but it’s still created something meaningful, or maybe even something successful. Recently, example that for me was the Pisco stage race in April, I got sick, which happens all the time. Now, I didn’t get sick for years before having children. And now I’m always every month I was sick for almost two months, between COVID and minor head colds. But in March, I got sick, and I couldn’t train for two weeks. And I thought, I’m not going to be in shape for this race. Maybe I should just quit, maybe I shouldn’t even go. Maybe I shouldn’t take my family across the country so they can watch me and support me race doesn’t even matter. My husband held up a mirror to reflect my values. And what’s important to me, and why I’m doing it in the first place, which isn’t to win. Winning is something I strive for. But it’s not the only thing. And I went to the race. And I’m sure you guys have heard me talk about this, but like I won the race. And that was much great unexpected with imperfect, very imperfect training, and perfect preparation. Maybe even a negative headspace. So don’t throw it all away. Because it’s not going exactly the way you wanted it to go. So Hector this morning, I just remembered how important labeling emotions is. It’s something we do with our toddlers. And it helps them It helps me out louder. So I’m frustrated. And I heard all this noise, like kids making noise. And it was all like happy noises, but just the sounds made me feel completely overwhelmed with the emotional storm happening. And all this stuff. So I just labeled it frustrated. I made myself took a deep breath. And I didn’t feel better immediately. Of course, I’m not gonna just feel better immediately. That created space to say it’s okay to practice a little bit of self compassion, some perspective taking that this isn’t the end of the world that I just need to get out and ride. And I’ll get there. I did. I left, the family actually got to start with me because we got this new ebike where it’s like a cargo bike for kids. So they started out with me. And it was seeing my smiles on my kids faces helped me. But my mind would wander to the frustration and then I wouldn’t see them and realized I was missing. The moment. I came back to it gets better. I started on my ride. And I told myself I’m doing intervals today I’ve had good sleep the last three days. I could be mostly recovered from that block of racing. I did. But I had a run yesterday, two hour run. Because I’ve committed to this big goal at the end of August beginning of September called the Grand Traverse, which I hope I can do 440 mile trail run one day 40 mile mountain bike race the next day. And I’ve never run 40 miles. I have no idea what’s gonna happen with that. But so did this run yesterday. It was it was another completely imperfect scenario where I tried to use new shoes was my second. The first one was good. And then the second one was horrible. My foot hurts so bad, I could barely walk. That’s like run barefoot and try to get home so I could switch out my shoes to get another pair of shoes that continues to run. So it was a bit frustrating. And so today, I thought I’m gonna get my redemption. I’m going to get out there, I’m going to finally feel good on my bike again. Because when you’re racing back to back races, especially when you’re attempting to race into shape, it doesn’t feel good. And you start doubting yourself because you feel tired, your legs hurt all the time and you’re not at your best. But for some reason I thought today I was going to be at my best. So I started my ride. My heart rate slow legs are killing me. Before I even tried to put down an effort. Again. I had to shift my expectations and saying wow, okay, well, I guess today I’m not gonna get to do the work that I was hoping to do. I have a 100 mile mountain bike race in two weeks. So this was supposed to be a key workout for that race. And it’s not going to happen. So here’s an example of, maybe we assign, everybody always feels good on their bike, but me, everybody, trains better than here has a better, but I think this is more common than people let on. Because I know I’m definitely a human being. I hope that my competition, and colleagues are human beings as well. With sharing this is so important. So I’m not gonna get to push in the way that I want to, and there is anger and frustration around that. And I had to let that go. And it’s something that I try to ask myself when I feel that way, bumping up against these ideals, and these expectations for myself, expectations that has to be this way, otherwise, it’s not going to work out expectation that if I don’t feel a certain way, then I’m not a real pro, or I’m not going to be successful. What are those thoughts doing for me? That’s nothing. You’re constricting. They make me angry, they make me don’t they make me lose confidence in the moment. So that’s where again, this practice of compassion, self compassion comes in. It’s okay to feel this way. Mindfulness, kindness and common humanity are the three elements of self compassion. So how can I practice that in this moment? And then how can I make this bigger than myself so that I can use this to help other people. That’s why I decided to record this trail monologue, because I heard this awesome climb trail and a beautiful sunny day, coming back to the gratitude that I get to do this. This is a privilege that showing up for ride frustrated and sucking quotes in airports is a privilege. Because not everybody gets to do that. So I hope that this random iCast monologue was helpful. I certainly don’t want to come across as someone who’s complaining, because I’m not I’m just sharing what it’s like behind the scenes. And when people ask me, How do you do it all? Good, it’s not pretty. And it’s laced with frustration, and overwhelm, and lessons. And I appreciate that. It’s about doing little things. Even if it’s not the way that you want it to look. And that those little things actually make a difference. The importance of stopping and reflecting what you’ve done, instead of all the reasons why it didn’t go right. All the ways you wish it looked, how it looks for somebody else. To encourage you today, if you can take a moment and actually write down like a period a week, two weeks, a year a month, things that you’re proud of, and weigh that against how you feel. And you’ll realize that the actions that you take add up. I know that sounds like a broken record, but I have to remind myself that every single day, otherwise I would give up. It takes courage to keep showing up. So being brave means being brave. Always feeling confident. And knowing you got this being brave is showing up imperfectly. Especially when you don’t have it, knowing or being optimistic that good things will happen. I keep going. And even though I reach a breaking point, if I have today I’m gonna keep going. Eventually that’s going to result in a breakthrough. So I hope this was helpful. I’ll see if I publish this if the audio is even discernible between the wind and my breathing. All the fun stuff. Hope you guys all have a great day. This is something that you like maybe I’ll do more of these episodes. We’re out riding together. This is probably something we’ve been talking about. So that’s it.