I’m sure that all of us, at some stage in our professional lives, have gone through periods of time that have tested us. Those times where you are really challenged, nothing seems to go your way and quite honestly, work seems to chew you up and spit you out however hard you try.
During the summer of 2015, exactly that happened to me. My cricket season got off to an average start, a few things genuinely didn’t go my way and before I knew it, it went from bad to worse. I took a bad blow to the head where I suffered concussion, which in turn kept me out of the team and then I couldn’t get back in. I’m not blowing my own trumpet but this was something I wasn’t used too. How do I deal with it?
I can honestly say I tried everything to turn it around, but sometimes the harder you try the worse it becomes.
I quickly made myself aware of the dangers of the position I was in- I was frustrated at myself for not playing as well as I could, it was potentially unhealthy both mentally and physically and I wasn’t moving forward as a person.
I decided to find what I later called a ‘healthy distraction’- something that took my mind off the immediate future, a challenge that would result in physical improvement and mental freshness, and finally something that improved me- in this case it was taking myself out of my comfort zone and completing a goal that was extremely tough!
So I signed up to a ‘Duathlon’. Not just any Duathlon, this was a race around the box hill loop in Surrey, an 8 mile run around it followed by 3 laps on the bike, followed again by 1 more lap running- all in a time limit. It was pretty mad, I had never run that distance in one go but what I needed was a distraction that took hard work and dedication.
Training for it was harder than I realised, extremely time consuming and tedious at times but I had a goal of completing it and the thought of doing just that drove me each time I needed it.
‘Work’ was still number 1 and the Duathlon never interfered but I was succeeding at something else, so my poor season became easier to deal with personally because every time I trained for the race I was getting closer to reaching my goal of completing it. I was winning.
On the 7th of November I finished the race, that was a win for me. 4 hrs 22 mins of gruelling, painful physical exertion but it was all done, I had completed a goal and my ‘healthy distraction’ had served its purpose.
What I found through this period was the impact the ‘distraction’ had on other areas of my day to day life. It’s easy to say but I do believe it improved my moods on a daily basis, In my case I was getting fitter and stronger so maybe it’s fairly obvious that I would feel ‘better’ within myself. I guess in turn because of the direct link to cricket in terms of the physical side, I felt that it was having a healthy impact on that too? I mean, when/if I got back into the team I would be at the very least in a really good physical state which would obviously have a positive impact on my concentration and preparation.
Finally, away from cricket I realised I could complete a brutal physical challenge, I could take myself outside of my comfort zone over a relatively long period of time. The confidence and self belief that I gained, and i’m sure anyone else would, made the whole thing completely worthwhile.
This is not about the size of the distraction or even the type of distraction. It’s about having something else when you need it that allows you to keep moving forward and improving. Something that you keep winning. Try it.