Some say life is hard, while others believe that life is only as hard you make it.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall, it’s no secret that life brings tasks and events that demand a tremendous amount of your time.
Managing the day-to-day tasks can seem exhausting. I have a strong dislike hearing someone mention how they “don’t have time” for this or that. Although it seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day, you have to make a conscious effort to manage and rank what is important to you. Manuals and how-to guides to help manage your life do not exist despite many books that claim to do so.
I have served in the Air Force on active duty for the last 14 years and have moments when it’s a challenge for me to find time for the things that I enjoy. In addition to serving the country, I am a father, husband, student, and powerlifter.
Fulfilling these roles requires an enormous amount of time management. I will often sacrifice the things that I want to do for what I have to do. However, I always find a way to do what I want to do, albeit at a later time or date.
Prioritizing my schedule has been crucial when managing my daily tasks. Of course, my young children are top priority. However, I center my day on military obligations and branch out from there with my training schedule as well as my children’s training or activities getting the most attention.
I built a gym in my garage for this reason, hoping it would help improve managing my schedule. On many occasions, my kids will hang out with me while I train which makes that time double as quality family time and becoming a better powerlifter.
There will be days when I will not have time to do all the things I had planned for the session that day. I may work up to a single on my primary movement, then kill the session so I can prepare dinner. Meal prepping for my kids became vital on days like this.
What’s even more of a challenge is trying to pursue a college degree while juggling so much already. In the midst of all the chaos from family and work, I still needed time to complete assignments for my Bachelor’s degree.
Most of the time I worked on these in the evenings, after the kids were asleep.
I never had much of a social life, so my weekends were perfect for finishing tasks that I couldn’t get to during the week, such as school assignments, chores, or simply making time to be a couch potato.
Misery Loves Company
I don’t believe that I am any different from anyone else who is struggling to balance family, friends, sports, or school.
We will all have to make sacrifices at some point in our lives. It seems to be a prerequisite for achieving your goals. I asked a young powerlifter, Dakota Young, who is a Kinesiology and Psychology student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, how she is able to find balance between the struggles of college life and the demands of powerlifting.
Dakota mentioned that school is top priority and she sacrifices social interactions to prepare for a powerlifting contest. Being in her third year of college, Dakota said “I will not sacrifice school and there are times when training comes later in the day or I have to reorganize training days to create balance between school, work, and training.”
“I get a bit of social interactions at the gym as well as within the powerlifting community as a whole,” she mentions, which expels the feeling of socialization becoming less important.
Dakota’s sacrifices have not been in vain; her powerlifting helps boost her confidence. With double-digit contest wins and one National title under her belt, she is consistently proving herself wrong while abolishing limitations and exceeding her own expectations.
The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.
“My training takes precedence. Especially when preparing for an international competition,” says Ian Bell, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work. ”I [will] cut out a lot of my social activities and hobbies to have time to train, do school work, and spend time with my fiancée.”
As if being a grad student wasn’t demanding enough, Ian is also a 4x World champion with the International Powerlifting Federation or IPF. He achieved over 20 National and World records in his career.
In spite of these accolades, there will be occasions when feelings of fatigue begin creep in. Being extremely organized is what helps someone like Ian stay on track. When things seem chaotic he interprets these moments “as opportunities to learn from mistakes, and recommit to the priorities” he has established in his life. When asked how he is able to stay motivated amid so many obligations, he said “I remind myself of why I made [these] commitments in the first place.”
“I remember the people I serve, and those who have helped me along the way. Everything I do, I do it not only for myself, but for my friends, family, community, and country,” he continues.
Recalling the “why” is what keeps Ian motivated.
Organizing, prioritizing, and identifying what is important is vital to creating balance. When discussing training for a sport, social events seem to be on the chopping block most often. However, this doesn’t have to always be the case. As explained by two college students — who happen to be champion powerlifters — there will be time when training will lose its priority to more important things.
Balance is loosely defined as an even distribution of weight, enabling someone or something to stay steady. There is no special formula for achieving balance. Moreover, balance may look different from one person to another. You should understand what your purpose is or what you are hoping to achieve, then center your remaining engagements around that.
Make a list or maintain a calendar of events. Whichever method you decide is best, try to stay flexible for last-minute changes and do not become distressed when things don’t seem to go as planned. Simply adjust your focus and tailor your schedule as needed.
Your success is determined by what you are willing to sacrifice for it.