In 2003 I completed my first Ironman triathlon. It had been a dream since I was twelve years old, and I was 27 when I finished. Once it was done, I didn’t take enough time to rest and got injured from going back to training to quickly. Without the ability to train, and without a new goal to set my sights on, I started to slip into depression – we have a family history of mental illness and I didn’t realize that I was susceptible to it. Post-Ironman Depression Syndrome is a real thing and for me it was also coupled with my first marriage ending. A very dark time indeed.
Gratitude Tip: Learning to practice gratitude along the way can help deal with the feelings that can arise once we’ve accomplished a life goal. Enjoying the process is just as important as achieving the goal, and when we are 100% focused on our goal alone, it can lead to disappointment and in worst-case scenarios, tip the scales towards mental illness.
What I had neglected to do was to have a goal for after the goal. While I was training for Ironman, my marriage had already fallen apart. However we had already planned our trip to BC for the race and our vacation after. And there were many other factors which meant I stayed in my marriage longer than I likely should have. I was holding on to a thread that became completely unraveled once the race was done. And when I became injured, I no longer had the endorphin rush from exercise to keep me balanced. I sought the professional help I needed, and a few months later, walked out of my marriage and went to stay with my parents.
For me, I started to turn things around by creating a new goal and taking action in a new direction. At the same time as all of this was happening, my contract with Hershey Canada was also ending. So here I was, 28 years old, living with my parents, marriage over and career in danger of quickly ending. It was an opportunity to start living the life that I truly wanted. Instead of getting caught up in all I had lost, I focused on new opportunities and a chance to start over. My sister was already working overseas as a teacher in England and so I decided to buy a one way plane ticket to see her.
I had been to Europe after university with my BFF Lee-Anne and I had totally fallen in love with Switzerland. So I decided to take this twist of fate in my life and look for work in Switzerland. In 2004, finding a job on the internet was not that simple! Yet somehow, the day before I left to visit my sister, I landed a job in Switzerland, in the same region I had fallen in love with years earlier, with exactly the same view.
Life is full of twists and surprises. And what I have learned is that although goal-setting is very important, enjoying the journey and being open to what comes up is just as important. It’s also key to view our goals as stepping stones in the journey of life. A goal is not a destination, it’s not the end. Celebrate your goals and achievements and then keep going! As Jim Rohn says, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. I choose to keep on growing.