What is Your White Line?
I took a bike ride years ago that gave me a clear picture of the benefits of visualizing what I wanted from what I didn't want - and how easily the latter can slip into the mind's eye and mess us up if we don't have a "white line" to keep us stay focused and stay on track.
Many years ago when I was in much better shape, I was working at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. For "fun" one morning, I joined a small group of national caliber cyclists on a 42 mile bike ride up to Woodland Park. I pictured a hard ride up and a rather fun, leisurely ride down; one where I might even take my feet off the peddles like I did in third grade and raise my hands in the air and scream "wheeeee!" I had clearly not visualized this ride very well.
We were on the road by 4:00 AM on Father's Day in order to get a jump on the traffic and heat. We rode a gruelling 21 mile ride that went straight up. We arrived at this adorable coffee shop which was giving away doughnut holes for free with a cup of coffee in honor of Father's Day. To honor my father, as well as all those calories I had just burned, I dutifully consumed 15 doughnut holes.
On the way down hill I had a little surprise. Did you know that national caliber cyclists don't take their feet off the peddles and scream "wheeeeee"? I saw them fade away quickly as I glanced down and saw my own odometer reading 50 MPR. You can't get that fast when your feet are off the peddles. I realized I was about to die. While I attempted to keep the doughnut holes from reemerging, I could see the side of the mountain blur past me on my right. On my left, large semi-trucks were focused on getting their loads to their destinations as quickly as possible and I was clearly in the way. I felt like Dennis Weaver in the movie "Duel." As each monster truck passed I felt my bike sucked into their air stream. I felt this sudden need to buckle my seat belt.
I had two choices: fear or focus. I could continue to visualize being tossed over the edge or I could focus on the white line. I could visualize what I wanted, which was to live and arrive with the others and feel the joy of accomplishing a new goal. Or I could visualize what I didn't want, which was to be sucked into the grill of a Peterbuilt or tossed like an empty beer can down the mountain side.
I chose to focus. I began to look at the white line and think only about the white line. I thought about that ribbon of white paint taking me where I wanted to go. Every time my mind was distracted by a truck or the cliff, I redirected it as quickly as I could to the white line. Stay focused. Stay on the white line. I eventually caught up with the others. I was relieved at dodging death and proud that I had survived the 42 mile trek.
My white line today is my list of things to do. I find that if I write down three specific, achievable, important goals for today and keep them in front of me, they help prevent me from "looking over the edge of the cliff and freezing" or "watching the big truck and getting angry." They help me stay focused so that I can feel proud that I survived and accomplished.
What will you do to keep yourself on track today?
My sincere thanks go to Lynne Marie Becker for encouraging me to write a blog over a year go. I finally wrote my first one after many attempts...