BL&T No. 009: Challenging Our Storyline

Borrowed, Learned, & Thought (or BL&T) is a weekly newsletter sent on Mondays. In every edition, I share a borrowed idea (quote, excerpt), a lesson learned from the previous week, and a thought starter heading into the new week. Learn more and subscribe here.

Borrowed

"If you want to make the wrong decision, ask everyone."

Naval Ravikant on Twitter

Learned

This weekend I visited home to see family and ended up reconnecting with an old family friend. I heard that he completed a ~300-mile bike trip last year and didn't remember him ever being a serious cyclist. I was intrigued. When asked, he remarked on how eye-opening the experience was. It was a trip that he never saw himself capable of completing. What changed? In short, he discovered a book called I'll Push You that led him to challenge his self-image.

I left the conversation reminded of the stories I used to tell myself.

Growing up, I enjoyed being a creative, musical kid. Whether I wanted to be more athletic deep down inside or not didn’t matter; it didn't fit the story. Being an artist and getting fit were mutually exclusive.

Competing in my first powerlifting competition (and loving it) was my bike trip. If 15 years ago you told me that I'd put on a singlet and lift 2.5x my bodyweight off the ground in front of a room full of people, I'd tell you that you had the wrong guy. The competition and the journey prior shifted my perspective on every aspect of life, especially those where I had fabricated a set of guardrails.

Performing somewhere in PA, 2005 / USAPL Powerlifting Competition in Brooklyn, 2019

As we enter the holiday season, the end of the year suddenly feels within reach. It's easy to get distracted by the New Year, New You campaigns that will soon dominate our feeds. Many of those around us will adopt the same storyline, abandoning their 2020 “resolutions” and setting new ones for next year, many of which are repeats and common (exercise more, no sugar, drink less alcohol, etc). This weekend was a good reminder not to give in.

The truth is two-fold: One, several people will continue this cycle next year. Why? Lack of introspection. They haven't addressed the weight of their self-image or established a plan to challenge the intricacies of their story. Two, the symbolism of a new year is just another story. We are not all on the same timeline.

Lesson? We are the authors of our stories. Our future has not been written. We must turn back the pages to reveal the storylines we have subconsciously followed so we can consciously start writing a path toward the future we deserve.

Thought Starter

Where is my self-image holding me back?