For the month of July, I’ve been teaching yoga and body alignment to the Laguna Beach High School Girls’ Water Polo Team. Twice a week, I guide them through an hour of “movements” (I like to call what we do movements instead of poses, because a pose sounds so static and still). Since this month-long camp is the type where there’s heaps of training and pool time, I’m focusing mostly on recovery and restorative movements: breathing, stretching and moving techniques that will help them recover quicker, prevent injury and feel more balanced in and out of the water. I call it Active and Mindful Moving.
Being the motivation-loving gal that I am, I thoroughly enjoy adding in personal anecdotes that might help inspire each athlete to make the most of the session, expand their current perspective and / or cultivate curiosity in their approach to being a healthy and confident athlete.
In a recent session, I shared with the team an experience addressing challenges we face when achieving a goal vs the “pretty” part of creating one…I’m willing to bet you’ll find this relevant to your life, as we all experience ups and downs when pursuing our goals.
I recently had the honor of leading a Dreams & Goals Yoga session for the Coast to Coast Ivivva Summer Festival in Newport Beach, California. 100+ girls, ages 5-14 years old. Needless to say, it was a PARTY! Vibrant colors everywhere, acro-yoga, acoustic music, henna tattoos, snow cones, hair-braiding (who doesn’t love to get their hair braided!?), heart-pounding drum-pounding festivities, plus an inspiring talk from a 17 year old gal who’s pursued her goal of surfing every single day for 5 years straight. No joke.
On top of all that, I guided the energetic partiers through a lively yoga session which was sprinkled with steps to creating and writing a BIG goal from their personal passion or dream. At the end, we had the girls write down their BIG goal (with an affirmative statement of course, like I AM an Olympian vs I want to be an Olympian) on a beach ball and release their goal out into the universe. Because let’s be honest, you’re way more likely to achieve your goal if you share it with the world and put it out there…in this case, literally!
What I love about an event like this, is it creates a positive and exciting space for these girls to imagine what is possible with their life. It puts a bug in their ear – an idea – that you can pursue something you love, you can dream up a goal, you can ask for positive support from your friends and family, and that yes, YOU CAN DO IT! Do I sound like that guy from Adam Sandler’s movie The Water Boy?
Think of a goal you have made for yourself in the last year or two. How did you feel when you created that goal? What type of emotions did you have? Were you elated and excited? Maybe a little nervous?
When I create a goal or dream up “possibilities”, I feel like I’m in this ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE state of mind. It’s all rainbows and unicorns. Or maybe more accurate for me: all sunshine, sea and sky.
Side Note: No Party Poopers in this Parade. Now, some people might say to this ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE state “oh Jaime, get your head out of the clouds” or “get a real job with actual benefits and retirement” or “that’s not how things are done or should be done” and so on (I’ve had people express this to me. Man, talk about party poopers). You might have experienced situations or people like this in your own life. Yet let’s be honest, anytime one steps out of the cultural or familiar norm, others might question your choices. And that’s okay. That’s their perspective. Just be aware of the difference between those in your life that you respect and love who help you stay grounded while your head’s in the clouds, compared to those who have their own agenda and don’t have your best interest in mind.
A summer festival of releasing your Dreams & Goals into the universe is clearly an inspiring way to initiate creating and pursuing your goal. I think more folk should create or take part in thought-provoking and confidence-building experiences like this. Yet the road to pursuing your goal is not all unicorns, rainbows, sun, sea and sky. Nor should it be. So what happens when reality sets in? What do you do when you run into challenges and barriers which will undoubtedly appear in your way? What happens when your motivation is diminishing at a frightful pace and you can barely even see the clouds you so warmingly embraced when you dreamt up your goal?
This is when I feel like I meet the Real Me. THIS is where you find out what type of person you are. What you’re really made of. How far you’re willing to go, how hard you’re willing to push yourself to reach your goal.
It’s easy to be the best version of you – happy, strong, confident, positive, kind, selfless, humble – when you’re within your comfort zone. When you are out of your comfort zone, in a very uncomfortable, dirty, nitty gritty, challenging-every-wee-bit-of-your-body-and-mind situation…THIS is your opportunity to be the best version of the Real You.
Let’s take this discussion full circle to my session with the Laguna Beach water polo team…
These girls are in the middle of a physically demanding water polo camp during summer vacation. It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re voluntarily putting your body and mind through such intense training. While I took the team through some Active & Mindful Movements, I shared with them how training for the Olympics is quite similar yet at a more exaggerated level. My body would feel beat up, tired, like it had nothing left to give. How did I push myself through it? It’s one thing to set a goal, yet a completely different challenge to do what you need to do to achieve it. I had to constantly remind myself what I was working for. I was training for a reason. I had a goal: To make the Olympic Team.
At 6:30am (that’s early!), I shared this experience with the Laguna Beach water polo team. I said (or something along these lines – let’s be honest, I always forget exactly what I say and wish someone had recorded it)…
It’s wonderful to be able to set your goals at an uplifting and fun summer festival, like the Ivivva event. Yet what you’re doing right now – this is the tough part – this is the real challenge. This is where you figure out what type of person you are. How you deal with these challenges. How do you react to the ups and downs? Do you stay positive? Do you remain determined? Or do you give up? Remember, you’re not alone. When you feel down, when you need to picked back up, you have your teammates next to you. Help each other out. Help each other be better. It’s easy to be “the best version of you” when everything is going swimmingly. Yet I encourage you to find the best version of you when you feel like you’re sinking. Can you be the best version of you – the Real You – in any situation? When I remember this, I reignite any forgotten confidence and embrace the challenge more openly.
We will always come across challenges and changes in life. How you respond to them says a lot about your character. Discover and love the Real You.
Achieving a goal is not easy. When you’re facing challenges, remind yourself of why you’re pursuing your goal and surround yourself with positive people to support and encourage you…and you can do the same for them.