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Should I Keep Pushing or Take a Break? How to Decide

Making clear decisions is important not just for our training energy and goals, but also in all aspects of our lives.

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Decisions are powerful. Our lives are made up of decision after decision after decision. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available and our lives eventually start to go back to sense of normalcy, you have a decision to make when it comes your training and racing. Is it time to push through and pursue your goals or is it time to take a break after a long year? Or do you want to take a shorter break and then come back to training with a clear plan and goals? 

Only you can make that choice for yourself, but here are the reasons why making a clear decision is important and some steps on how to decide for yourself.

Why Making Decisions is Important

1. It saves time

By not making a clear decision about whether you’re taking a break or pushing through, you are actually postponing decisions. The limbo in between decisions is a state of confusion and that confusion is a time waste. Time spent thinking “I don’t know” is time that could be used taking productive steps towards a result. 

2. It increases your action

When trying to make a decision, most people spend more time consuming information. While this can be useful to an extent, consuming information is passive action. Massive action is the most impactful way to learn.

3. It increases your growth

The way you grow is by expanding your experience. The way to expand your experience is by making a decision, taking action, and learning from it.  Confusion is the opposite of this.

4. It increases your confidence

As soon as you make a decision and get away from “I don’t know,” insecurity goes away. After making a decision and taking action, you learn what you want to keep doing and what you want to stop doing. This position of being decisive builds confidence. 

These reasons can be applied to any area of your life, not just triathlon, and the more you practice the better you get at making decisions with less confusion. 

Watch out that you’re not avoiding making a decision simply because you think decisions take a long time. What takes a long time is the internal debate. We think about choices for a long time and make decisions in an instant. 

To train hard right now for 2021 goals or pivot your focus to rest and recovery and coming back stronger later: How much mental energy would you save if you made the decision right now?

So you know why making decisions is important, but how do you decide?

Four Steps to Ditch the Confusion and Finally Make That Decision

1. Consider both as a success

One of the reasons you often don’t choose one option over another is because you’ve played it out in your head and anticipated failure. Try this instead: Imagine that both decisions turn out amazing, best-case outcomes. Say you decide to train hard through the winter to purse your triathlon goals: you stay consistent, get stronger, and knock your race goals out of the park. Or imagine you decide to take a break over the next few months: you get more sleep regularly, spend quality time with your family, and maybe read more; you feel rested and refreshed. Imagine that you succeed at both, then which would you choose?

2. Reframe right and wrong

Are you worried about making the wrong decision? What if there is no wrong choice? There is just what you choose and then what you learn. If you’re either winning or learning, then there is no wrong choice. If you remove the idea that you could choose wrong or that you could fail, then which would you choose?

3. Give yourself a deadline

When you have a decision that you’re trying to make or when you’re anticipating one thing over the other, give yourself a deadline to make a choice by. Make the decision and move forward. Urgency can create decisiveness. 

4. Be open to feeling uncomfortable

If it feels scary to make a decision, then you’re doing it right. Consider it a green light. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable because it’s part of the process. Decisions facilitate growth and growth feels uncomfortable. The sooner you open up to it, the faster you grow.

Follow these steps to get out of the confusion you might be feeling after a complicated and weird year and race season, and start moving forward with whatever your choice is. Making decisions is what propels you forward; it increases your growth, increases your action, increases your confidence and saves you time. You have the power to make the decision right now.

Don’t let the choice of whether to pursue your goals or take a break drain your energy. Your energy is better served on the other side of that decision.

Vanessa Foerster is a mental endurance coach who works with athletes, especially triathletes, to build mental endurance to match their physical endurance.