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The Choices We Unknowingly Make

Aaron McHugh

Six to Ten hours a week I chose this.
Six to Ten hours a week I chose this.

This is a post about choices.

I need to first set the scene so that you can understand how I discovered this nugget of truth.

Yesterday I rode (cycled) 120 miles in preparation for an upcoming race. Five weeks from today, I am competing in my second IRONMAN Triathlon. The IRONMAN  was originally cooked up by a couple of local Hawaiian nut jobs back in 1978.  It was a test of wills, guts and stamina.  Today it has become an international endurance athlete phenomenon.

You’ve probably caught one of the races on television and thought to yourself , That looks awful. I could never do that.

It might appear that IRONMAN is only for gifted athletes.  I don’t think this is entirely true.

More importantly than athletics, I believe it’s a race for the courageous of heart.

Watch a race in person and you will witness all shapes, all sizes and all ages fixated on their goal- the finish line.  If you chose to attempt an IRONMAN, you could complete it. I promise.

Ironman training is a choice

I want to put myself through this test again to see if I can arrive at the finish line and hear the microphone announcer say,

Aaron McHugh, you are an IRONMAN.

But this is not a post about the IRONMAN.

It is a post about choices.

It’s a post about LIFE and the small margins we are constrained to live within.

By choosing to take on this part-time job for ten months, IRONMAN training, I chose to limit my other choices.

When I dedicate eight-to-thirteen hours a week to training, then I simply don’t have time to do other things.

Here are a couple of choices that became limited as a result of my training:

  • Go to the pool with my family
  • Dry fly fishing the evening hatch on the South Platte river
  • Backpack over night into the Colorado high country
  • Regularly publish new blogs and podcasts
  • Drink beers with my buddies
  • Sleep eight hours every night

As I sit on my bike for six hours each Saturday and climb the rolling hills of the Front Range of Colorado, I’m reminded that I made this choice.

The Side Effects of my choices

I chose to race IRONMAN and this choice resulted in a list of preclusions.   I precluded myself from having the freedom to choose other things I love.

Probably like you, these resulting side effects often surprise me.  When we agree to a big project at work, sign up to coach our kids little league baseball, host a dinner party for fifty or buy that new Lexus we’ve been dreaming about, we are surprised.

I’ve been known to say something like theses: 

  • “I underestimated…”
  • “I had no idea…”
  • “I was planning on everything else going right…”
  • “I’m shocked that it costs this much…”

Maybe you’re a lot better than I am at estimating exactly what each decision will cost or require.

During my ride, I was reminded of the root cause behind why I am not writing more.  I chose an IRONMAN instead.

It’s funny I don’t remember writing a pros and cons list and adding, I will not be writing very often to the cons list.

I guess that’s what you call underestimating.

My parting encouragement to you

Maybe we chose the predicament, constraints, tension, pressure, stress, or disappointment that we are experiencing?

Maybe we didn’t consciously calculate all of the ways our decisions would affect other areas of our life, work and play?

Try it on and ask yourself What choices did I unknowingly make that I’m unaware of?

I gotta go.

I’m late for my pool workout.

Keep going.

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