As an athlete and a dancer, I’ve learned that when you begin to work a new muscle, you tend to feel stiff and sore for the first while. There are physiological explanations for this experience. What I know is that I embrace that feeling of muscle soreness. It is my body’s way of telling me that I’m stretching beyond my normal capacity and developing it.
The trick is to keep at it until the muscle has learned to work at this higher capacity without feeling soreness or fatigue. Building up your endurance doing cardio workouts is the same. When you first start up a cardio training program, you probably can’t make it very far. You may even get discouraged with how quickly you tire or how easily you end up out of breath. To create a shift and expand your lung capacity and cardio endurance, you have to stick to your program.
The same is true when it comes to practicing new levels of accountability and awareness, two areas we focus on developing early on in the coaching relationship. At first, being aware of your thoughts, making sure your actions are in alignment with your core values and goals and staying accountable for doing what you say you will takes a lot of focus and energy. These are new muscles you are developing. It will take some time and patience but the day will come when you realize that these practices have become second nature and you no longer have to put so much thought into making them a part of your life.
Until then, think like an athlete. Work them out regularly. Acknowledge that when it gets challenging it is because you are going beyond your normal stopping place and know that some day soon these tools will be so integrated they’ll be part of your autonomic system, happening naturally and clearing the space to up your game in another area of skills and levels of awareness.