[Listen to me read this reflection here]
Recently, I have started to work with a personal trainer, for the first time in my life.
I will admit that I have never consistently worked out or gone to the gym. There have always been other activities that I have believed to be more valuable or interesting. However as my body ages, I have noticed more injuries, aches and pains, enough to have convinced me to invest in strength training.
My expectations going into it were simple. Get stronger, as efficiently as possible.
I found a trainer here in Portugal, but she does not speak English well and the workouts at the beginning were very easy. I began to question early on if I should find a better trainer, as I would witness her struggle to explain exercises in English, which she did very inefficiently, and at the end of a session, my body did not feel any stronger.
However, I found myself continuing to do the sessions. I did not think too much about it, and trusted my instinct to stick with it, despite feeling disappointed early on.
She does not speak English well and often switches to Portuguese. As a result, this is the most consistent exposure to Portuguese I have had since moving here months ago and I am picking up the language faster. I like it.
I work from home and could easily forget to leave my home. We meet at 730am on the beach, and watch the sunrise over the ocean as we workout. It is inspiring.
Physical training is new to me and because she does not push me beyond my comfort zone, I am not scared. I also do not feel judged by her, based on what I can and cannot yet do. I had no idea that this is what I actually needed from a trainer, to help me build confidence and consistency.
And most of all, we laugh together, every single session. It is so much fun.
If my expectation was to get stronger as efficiently as possible, I had better get a different trainer. And had I, I probably would have gotten discouraged, injured or fatigued, and then stopped.
Dropping my expectations is what has created a truly enjoyable experience, one that I genuinely look forward to (despite the workouts now being much more challenging).
I do not actually know what I want. And there is a freedom to say that out loud.
See, life becomes transactional when I place an expectation on everything or everyone. I then only do things that I feel are worth it. The problem is that I fool myself into thinking that I know what I want in the first place. The truth is that I do not, and can only uncover it once I am with it.
As a human being, it is only once in a state of ‘being with’ the work, the environment, the place, the person, the activity or even the emotion, that I can know how I feel about it.
When I try to think my way through what I want, I often miss the mark. This is evidenced by feelings of dissatisfaction after getting something that I thought I wanted.
It takes a dose of humility to go into something with the understanding that I do not know what I want from it, and a bigger dose of courage to be comfortable with not knowing. With humility and courage, I become open to the serendipity, the spontaneity and the surprises reality has to offer me.
The most memorable moments of my life, the experiences that have most inspired and shaped me and the people who have most influenced me have been when my expectations were few. This is when I am most open to being changed by reality.
Conversely, the moments I have experienced the most stress, anxiety, anger, frustration and disappointment have been when my expectations were many.
Any activity, exchange or investment of time, attention or money will produce an outcome.
When I have predefined what that outcome needs to be, I am closed. When I have not, I am more open to the outcome that is most grounded in reality, versus my fantasy.
And learning to be with reality is the only path I have known to move through life with a little more ease, and a little less friction.