The media tells us that success is for the young. That by the time we are 40, we are done being beautiful or strong or attractive. Our window for greatness has been slammed shut.
I know times are changing, but in the world I grew up in, that was the message. Life was for the young.
I’ve always like to be active but never was one to compete, so when I decided to compete 2 years ago, at the age of 43, my family was pretty shocked.
I had been working on my snatch and my clean & jerk, two Olympic lifts that I had learned a few years before, and I felt like I wanted to give it a try.
Two years have passed since that first competition, and I’ve done several more since and have learned so much more than I expected. Not just about lifting, but about life along the way.
1. Stopping and starting isn’t a good idea. Learn to be consistent. Momentum is important and once you have it, slowing down just makes it harder to get going again. That first pull on the bar, if you do it hard enough, will sail up with less effort than you would expect, making the rest of the lift much easier. Same goes with life. Get moving on something. Don’t slow down. Focus. Make time and plan for it and you’ll get what you want, and it will start to be easier than you expect.
2. Relax. You don’t have to rush through everything. Sometimes starting out slow and methodical is the best way to stay balanced on your feet. When you rush pulling the bar, your whole body tips forward and you have to throw your foot out in front to catch yourself from falling on your face. You can actually be more successful if you just relax and slow down. Avoid falling on your face by being aware, feeling where you are and going at it without fear. When you slow down, you tend to notice more things, be more engaged and happier in the moment.
3. The media may tell you one thing, but you may have some advantage over the young. While some may perceive being a competitive lifter in their 40’s a weakness, it actually can be an advantage. Being in my 40’s, I have more opportunity to lift at national and international meets. The total amount I lift, as a 22 year old would be nothing, but at 45, I’ve got hops! This expands into my life too. I have the advantage of having done more things, seen more and learned more along the way (if I was paying attention) and so having a few years under my belt in my career and my relationships can actually pretty helpful.
4. Progress can be really slow, but it doesn’t matter. Progress is progress and being able to work toward things you love can be engaging and exciting even though others may think it’s going at a turtle pace. This makes you appreciate little changes. It makes me take notice of small accomplishments that I may not have paid attention to if I recovered like I used to, or had the mobility I used to. Also. Mobility is important! Use it or lose it so find a way to practice this every day, regardless if you are an athlete or not. You’ll be glad you took the time when you are 85 and are still agile and able to enjoy your life.
5. Your passion for whatever you love may inspire some and alienate others in your 40’s just like in your 20’s. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy. Celebrate the things your friends do great and don’t wait for them to celebrate you. They’ll come around. What inspires you to keep pushing for greatness in your life is all you really have control over. This goes for your career, how you parent, everything. Being older gives you the permission to not worry so much about it all.
6. What you think you can do really has a lot to do with life. If I step up to the bar and know I’m going to make the lift and really feel it in my soul, the lift is made. I realized I have to let doubt go when I step up to the platform and just go with my gut. If I’ve practiced and I’ve put in the work, I have to relax knowing it can be done. Watch your beliefs. Take note of where you cut yourself down or ‘think you can’t’. This dialog in your brain will determine what your future really looks like.
When I think now of what the media shares with me about my 45 year old self, I laugh. When I feel the squeeze of being ‘too late’ for me to try new things and be athletic too, I know that the message I’ve been sent is wrong.
Don’t miss out on some of the greatest gifts still ahead for you. Learn as you go along. Carry that with you and apply it your life, to your dreams. You are just getting started and there is still so much more out there for you to do too!
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