As I walked into the Gym Jones my mind was preoccupied with my birthday. Not for the normal reasons like being excited for a birthday dinner or spending time with the family opening gifts, but rather more fearful of the training session that what was about to come.

You see there is a tradition at the gym that on your birthday you get a “gift” of performing some type of workout involving your age. For example, since I am 43 I would get the pleasure of performing exercises in increments of “43” – 43 reps, 43 cals, 43 meters, 43 rounds…you get the picture.

The kicker here is no one knew it was my birthday. So I had a choice to make; announce that it was my birthday knowing the session would likely be terrible or keep it quiet and look forward to a easier path.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

I took the road less traveled and announced it was my birthday, Rob giggled with glee as he began to plan his birthday “gift”. The session itself was tough; 2.5 hours of grinding through pushing, pulling, and sprints ultimately ending with a devious little game performing various Gym Jones standards. If the standard was met the workout was done otherwise more standards were to be performed.

The multitudes of “43s” wore me down prior to performing the game, and as such, my times were not good. So, I got to do all of them. I didn’t break any records or hit any personal bests, but I did give the session my all and I came out the other end a better person for it. The session itself is at the end of this post.

But this post isn’t really about how hard I worked or the mechanics of the training, but rather choosing to throw my cards into the wind not knowing how they would land – choosing that road less traveled – with a smile.

I think most of us have choices like this to make everyday, some easier than others. For example:

  • Do you eat that cupcake after dinner, or do you crank out a few push ups?
  • Do you pick up the phone and call someone to have a conversation, or do you send out an impersonal email?
  • Do you talk to a loved one about a difficult topic, or do you stay quiet and hope it will resolve itself?
  • Do you follow your passion and risk a new career direction, or do you stay in a comfortable job?

It’s nice to be comfortable, but here’s the thing…new opportunities for growth generally don’t exist in your comfort zone. If you want to grow you have to be willing to take a risk and step outside your comfort zone once in a while, and in some cases the most valuable learnings come from experiencing the suffering of not being in your comfort zone.

Comfort-zone

As you practice stepping outside your comfort zone a funny thing happens, your comfort zone expands. What was once comfortable in the past is now child’s play, and the scary risk you took is now your NEW comfort zone.

In order to learn and grow we all must be willing to continually take risks, sometimes that risk is a little step and sometimes it is a big step out of your comfort zone. My birthday workout was a great reminder of this fact.

I don’t always take the road less traveled but when I do I am reminded of how important it is to do so more often. I hope this post is a reminder to you as well.

-Preston

The 43rd Birthday Workout

Photo Oct 01, 6 35 14 PM

Photo Oct 02, 1 15 21 PM

Photo Oct 01, 6 35 21 PM

Photo Oct 02, 5 44 42 PM
The aftermath (photo by Lyn Christian)