And if so, how do we know?
Life is full of tough decisions. I recently wrestled my way through one and decided to share my story with the hopes it might help someone else facing a similar decision.
|Posing with my Julianna Roubion, the perfect enduro rig.|
I'll admit, I was mentally struggling after my fourth knee surgery knocked me on my butt. My health is a resource I value highly and I kind of freak out when this resource is threatened.
I was desperate for something to snap me out of my funk. Goals have done this for me before, so I decided to try it again.
I had dabbled in an up-and-coming race discipline called enduro. It requires more technical ability, mental focus, and nerve than steady speed, so I figured I might be good at it. Comments about the dangers of it, however, made me wonder how much of a gamble it would be. I figured I would have to see for myself.
By April of 2017, my husband and I had donated a few bikes to World Bicyle Relief and were learning more about the organization. When I learned anyone could join Team WBR as an ambassador, I found the greater cause I was looking for and resolutely set my goal:
To race the Kodiak Tough enduro series the following spring (2018), then race the National Enduro Series over the summer, all as an ambassador for World Bicycle Relief. I understood the goal would be expensive in time, energy, money, and maybe health. Nevertheless, I did my best to think through the cost before I made my commitment.
|Looking through a turn during one of the Stages of the Lovit enduro race.|
|Far left: 4th place finish in the pro women's field with $100 prize money.|
At this point, from the outside looking in, it would seem all the pieces were falling into place. Over 30 bikes had been donated to World Bicycle Relief and I felt I had the racing potential to achieve my goal. I was feeling so good about it all I decided to increase the stakes.
My redefined goal was to finish in the top 3 overall for the region and get 100 bikes donated through the #WBRenduro campaign. The new hashtag became #100in2018.
Re-Assessing my resources
On the long drive home from Arkansas, a certain heaviness came over me out of nowhere. Part of it was the fatigue that had built up from my job as a teacher and coach (we finished basketball season the Monday before the race), training, promoting WBR, and not sleeping for two days because the air mattress I brought had a leak. But part of it was the reality of what enduro racing was actually going to cost me. Up until this trip, I could only guess. Now I knew. And it was time to revisit my balance sheet.
I had departed Texas on a Thursday morning and arrived back home on a Sunday night. The trip cost me four days away from home and two days of personal vacation at work. And there were four races left of the series. One of the weekends was Easter, and family would be in town visiting. I was missing my husband, missing my students and athletes at school, and missing family. The tipping point was getting close, but I could still justify it all in my head by thinking of all the lives and families that were being changed in Africa and South America because they were receiving their new bikes.
My expenses included the race entry fee, gas, hotel, cabin, bike gear, and food. I was okay with these expenditures because I consider a race weekend a mini-vacation and budget for it accordingly. But when I began thinking about racing for months around the nation, I realized it would cost a small fortune. Nonetheless, I didn't worry with this. I had learned from my Leadville 100 race experience that if it is supposed to happen, God will provide. (The only thing I had to pay for on my week long trip to Colorado for that race was the entry fee. A friend was going whose company paid for her gas, hotel, and most of her food. She had told me if I qualified for the race, I was welcome to tag along for the ride.)
|Navigating a rock garden at Camp Eagle.|
Little did I know I was about to pay for the gamble on my health.
On the final stage of day 1, aptly named "Screaming Eagle," I misjudged my downhill speed going over a rock drop. I actually slowed down too much, anticipating the small ledge I had easily soared over the day before during my intense three hour pre-ride of all 10 stages.
My right shoulder struck the ground and then my head. My full-face helmet saved my skull, but the impact to my shoulder did some damage. I was able to scramble down the rest of the stage, but I knew immediately my race was over. During the return ride back to camp, with my shoulder in shock, I took a harder look at the potential cost of this dream I was chasing.
In all my years of mountain bike racing, I had never had a serious wreck during a race, in fact, I can only remember coming off my bike a few times. Now, I was two for two. I also crashed in Arkansas, but it did not result in injury even though I similarly went over my bars and broke the visor on my helmet. Enduro races are decided by a matter of seconds, so the line between competing and staying safe is incredibly blurry. It was for me, anyway.
|Mike Cartier captured this shot minutes after my wreck. I am favoring my right shoulder and am upset because I had to quit a race for the first time ever. But the real angst on my face is from my inner wrestling with my decision to quit for good.|
The sacrifices of money and energy were hard, the sacrifice away from home even harder. But once I realized I could be one wreck away from not walking away, I decided the cost was more than I was willing to pay.
Even though I knew deep inside that my mind was made up, I still struggled to quit. My biggest question was, "What about racing for World Bicycle Relief?"
For reasons I cannot explain, except that I love the enduro community and was fighting against stepping away from them, I posted some lingering dreamy thoughts like "hopefully I will be healed up for the next race" and "can't wait to get back to #WBRenduro." But these statements were false. I knew the time had come to let go.
What happens after we quit?
It is normal to have feelings of loss after we let go of a goal. There are friendships we might miss and certain feelings of accomplishment we might lose (I was regularly being called a bad*ss during the months I was training and racing. Who doesn't want to be called that?) But when we make the right decision to step away, a certain peace settles on us.
We are always free in life to re-define current goals and chase new ones. Maybe I'm going through a mid-life crisis of sorts, but it seems my focus is turning more and more to my role as an educator and less of a bike racer, but don't worry! You can still find me on my bike...
...enjoying the camaraderie of the cycling community (even though I can't take a selfie to save my life...)
...exploring new trails in life...
...and promoting the work of World Bicycle Relief. By the way, the goal of reaching 100 bikes donated and 100 lives changed is still alive and well!
If you want to learn more about #TeamWBR or how you can bless someone with a bike, click on the icon below.
What about you?
How do you know when to press on and when to pull the plug on a dream or goal?
Even though you just read a story about quitting, more often than not the right answer is to keep going. Maybe you are thinking about quitting on a commitment you made or are second guessing a goal you have set, but are paralyzed by uncertainty or fear of regret. Obviously, no one can make the decision for you, but I hope by reading the 7 ideas below, you will find clarity for your next step.
By the way, everything you are about to read, you have probably already heard. In fact, there is a good chance if we are friends, I learned some of it directly from you. Even so, we can keep reminding each other as we journey through this adventurous life together. To credit the proper sources for where I found the following information: maybe you, definitely life, of course the bike, and a bunch of the Bible (the best guideline for living I've found!).
1. Failure is rarely a sign you should quit.
On the path to your dreams, you will fail. Believe me, I failed numerous times on my enduro journey, but that had nothing to do with why I quit. When failure does happen, you might as well accept the fact, drop your pride, get over it, and get moving again. Easier said than done, I realize, especially with repeated failures. But if we use failures as lessons and make it a point to learn from our mistakes, then we can actually use failure as fuel to propel us even further than we could go before.
2. Do not misinterpret hardship as a sign to quit.
Nothing can sap your energy and make you want to quit like extreme difficulties, but this is not a reason to stop pushing. In fact, it is probably a sign you are on the right track.
But be careful here. In a second you are going to read that a lack of resources is a strong sign you should quit. What's the difference? The impact the goal has on your (or others) life. We can agree there are some goals we will never quit on, no matter what the cost. But some goals, ones of lesser priority in the grand scheme, may only be taking energy away from the more important ones.
So if you are chasing a goal that you know is worth the cost and the path suddenly fills with obstacles, don't quit! Many times hardships give us the strength we need to do what we need to do when we get to where we want to get. (You might have to read that one again.) Life will not be over once you accomplish your goal. Maybe the hardship you are enduring now is preparing you for the mission that lies ahead.
3. Every goal comes with a price tag, and the payments we make to advance toward our goals are made with limited personal resources.
If you were wondering when I was going to get to the quitting part, here it is. We are all given currency to spend in life. Four forms of this currency are time, energy, money, and health. Our goals and priorities determine how much of each we are willing to spend.
One of the best ways to know when it is time to quit on your dream or goal is to take a detailed look at your "personal finances." Before you can make a wise decision, you have to know the answer to these two questions: How much am I willing to spend? and, What am I willing to sacrifice?
When the cost exceeds what you are willing to pay, it is time to quit. If your other top priorities are suffering because you are regularly running out of resources to afford them, then it is time to quit.
4. Everyone's currency has a different exchange rate.
So don't bother comparing yourself. What is a waste of time, energy, and money for one individual might be another's greatest investment. Don't judge others. And don't worry if others don't understand how you spend your resources.
5. There are always hidden fees.
When you are considering the cost before making a commitment, understand you will never know the full price up front. The balance sheet is rarely presented in full and the payments continue the whole time you are working toward your goals. Sometimes, price tags change without notice. Along the path to our goals, we must continually re-evaluate the cost.
6. It's okay to redefine your goals along the way.
There are numerous ways to make adjustments to our goals and refinance our dreams so that our resources match our budget. Keeping our priorities straight takes constant work. If our goals pull these out of balance, then we must examine them closely. See if you can separate the goal to keep the important part and let the rest go before you totally quit on your dream.
7. Make sure you are chasing the right dream.
This answer may be too simple, but here is what I have found: If your goal involves satisfying only you, then you will ultimately be disappointed.
But if your goal involves loving and helping others, you will end up being satisfied.
Does this mean personal goals are bad? I don't think so. If they help you be a better version of you so you can love and serve others, then go get it. Just keep a close eye on your resources. If the cost begins to exceed what you are willing to pay, then don't be afraid to quit.
There will always be a new goal waiting ahead.