Who turned the lights out?

That’s how it’s felt these last couple of weeks. I think I’ve reached a crisis point in my life!

Actually, I’m sure I have. I’m a fit 56, coming up 57, year old who has been fortunate enough to have been paying pension contributions since I started work 38 years ago this week (as I write). I’m also seriously out of love with the job I’m doing, and I recently sought information on my chances of early retirement. None whatsoever. I am, as it goes, just “too expensive” to let go, and in an area of work where redundancy isn’t likely for the moment. I can’t afford to walk away (that would be financially daft), and I am somewhat stuck.

I’m coming to terms with the motivational effects of this. I will still be expected to sound and act enthusiastic, set and achieve targets, and so on. Fair enough. I’m being paid, but, to be frank, will my heart and mind really be in it now? Will my colleagues trust the judgement of someone who they will know “doesn’t want to be here any more”?

I’ve been trying to draw some parallels between all of this and my approach to my sport, to see whether there are any lessons there that can help me. Not sure where this is going as I write, so bear with me.

Several of my motivational mantras as an athlete are “I’m good at this”, “I’m proud to do this”, and “I enjoy doing this”. These have helped me through all sorts of ups and downs, attacks of nerves, losses of confidence etc. I guess they have similarities with the reason I have long put forward for why I do the public sector job I do – “I care”. Moreover, my track mantras have helped me through a year that has seen bereavement, illness, injury, depression and things I can only really put down to misfortune. Can they help me through my work crisis?

Well, I’m good at it. There was a time that I was proud to do it, and a time when I enjoyed it, too. I still care, but is two out of four a good enough score to want to carry on carrying on? Better than one out of four, I suppose. I’m probably going to get a chance to test the mantras between work and training soon. “Soon” because I’m not training right now. I’d not planned to take a post-season break, feeling that I’d never really gained enough momentum this summer to justify a stop. However, sitting in a chair at the hospital, waiting for the final consultation on my damaged thumb, I sneezed, and put my back out. First time for several years. The circumstances made me feel like I’m running in some kind of “injury relay” this year, with one handing over to the other.

What’s proved to me that I needed a break is that I have not missed the routine of training one bit! Mind you, getting injured during a rest period is bad going.

At this point in the text, I did my usual thing and left the words to “marinade” on the laptop for a few days. Sadly, in the meantime, little else came to me. In the spirit of “if you’ve nowt to say, say nowt”, therefore, I’ll end this here. Hope it comes out more interesting next time.


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