How to follow through when you’re not automatically good at something

I wasn’t always good at weight lifting, I enjoyed it, and knew that it played an important role in my health, but it can be difficult to stick with something until you are good at it.
Over the years, I stuck with it, and then I wouldn’t, and then I’d get back into it… I found ways to stick with it and loved it more and more.
I joined gyms/HIIT/CrossFit, worked out with others, and hired a running coach who prescribes lifting.
Weight lifting is now a part of my almost daily routine and I’m reaping many benefits, including the mental health benefits!

In this article, I’ll discuss a few key points on how to follow through when you’re not automatically good at something.

These points include:

  • You are not alone.
  • What do professional athletes do?
  • The 1% better everyday rule.
  • Keep showing up.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  • Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions.
  • Let go of needless worry.
  • Practice identifying and reframing distorted thoughts that don’t serve you.
  • Society can keep you stuck.
  • Mental health stigma.

Let’s get into it. 1% at a time

A common issue that people have is if they’re not automatically good at something, they never follow through with it.

This person may really want to try a new sport or become active in a new hobby, but will stop trying once they feel inadequate or embarrassed because they recognize that their skills need improvement.

The truth is, we won’t always be automatically good at everything. We can be naturally good at something, but even being naturally good at something means that you must work hard to continuously sharpen the skill.

A good example of this are professional runners. We marvel at their high level of performance and say things like, “they make it look easy. It comes so natural to them. They were born to run.”

Genetics may very well be on their side, but in order to improve and hone in on a skill, they must work hard. The longer someone has been a professional runner, the more difficult it can be to see improvements. They must focus on the little details and become specific in their training.

Over time, focusing on the smaller details makes a difference. This behavior is the same for us as we have been participating in a sport or hobby for several years.

It will take time to build a skill set and fine-tune it over the years. Check out this article about the “1% better everyday” rule for building habits.

This “1% better everyday” rule is helpful to implement for when you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that it will take to build a skill set. Break the process down into tiny steps to get started, and then do the first step. Use the momentum from completing the first step to keep going.

Getting over discomfort and embarrasment

When trying to improve a skill, you might not feel comfortable. You may feel embarrassed or worried that you look bad while doing it, so you avoid doing things out of fear of being embarrassed.

Those emotions of discomfort and embarrassment are natural. There is nothing wrong with them, they are simply emotions that are reactions to thoughts, which you can choose whether or not to gather information from.

Some information from worries or anxiety is helpful and can be used in a productive way. Sometimes it is not useful information. Thoughts are simply like sounds in our heads. You can choose to acknowledge and let go of the unhelpful thoughts that cause needless worry.

With anxiety and fear, the only way to manage it is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and doing things that scare you a little. In reality, it’s okay to feel embarrassed to be new at something. It’s better than not going after it at all and just talking about it.

Your thoughts about being embarrassed is just anxiety. No one else cares, just you. No one cares because they see you learning. They see you making an effort to improve, and are likely quietly cheering you on… maybe they see you striving to be better and feel motivated or inspired to improve something in their own lives.

They don’t always perceive you the way that you perceive yourself. You might be more critical of yourself.

Why struggle? Mental health stigma. Anxious thoughts

I encourage people to get help with whatever they are struggling with. If you are searching for a mental health counselor, read this article on How to Find the Right Counselor.

Getting support in whatever you are working on is worth it. Why struggle through life, which sucks sometimes, without help? It’s like taking an airplane to success verse rowing your own boat.

I re-hired my running coach after taking several months off due to needing to fully focus on family. I’m an above average runner, I don’t typically need motivation from others, but I seriously missed him over the past eight months that I wasn’t working with him.

You may tell yourself “no one cares” to try to get motivated to go to the gym, but it still took forever to get over those anxieties. Keep going. Keep after it. Due to the anxiety holding you back, find ways to keep going, even if for now it is just because your friends go.

There is a stigma of being perceived as “weak,” especially towards men, this appears in certain cultures, as well, when it comes to seeking help. The mental health stigma is going away a little. For some men, growing up where/how they did, if they showed any emotions or vulnerabilities they were instantly labeled “soft.”

This is hard to go through. Everyone needs help with something at some point in their lives, and being told to “just suck it up” isn’t helpful. It teaches us to go through it alone.

Regardless of society’s expectations, if you want help, don’t worry about what people might think. We can’t predict or control what others with think or say, but we can control our reaction.

This type of worrying about what others will think is called “fortune telling.” It is a cognitive distortion. Learn about cognitive distortions and how to deal with faulty thoughts in this article, 12 Types of Cognitive Distortions.

You are more than your bad days. You are more than your mistakes and losses. You are more than your age and weight. You are more than other people’s judgements and definitions of success. You are more than your sport. You are more than enough.

Are you interested in working with me?

Please note that this article just scratches that surface of this important topic and only covers a few things that you can do when you struggle with following through on things that you are not automatically good at.

Remember that:

  • You are not the only person who has difficulty following through.
  • Professional athletes struggle and have to work hard and specific to see progress.
  • Use the 1% better everyday rule.
  • Keep showing up.
  • Practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  • Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions. They don’t need to control you.
  • Let go of needless worry.
  • Practice identifying and reframing distorted thoughts that don’t serve you.
  • Recognize the ways that society keeps you stuck and do something to keep you on track towards your goals.
  • Have an open conversation about mental health to help lessen the stigma.

There are so many more ways that you can continue to follow through and not give up on yourself!

While this article used a lot of examples involving exercise and athletes, this information can be applied to anything that you’re working on and you feel like giving up.

I specialize in working with runners and endurance athletes, but I can support anyone who feels like they can’t push beyond the barriers that are keeping them from accomplishing their goals.

If you are interested in an initial consultation for counseling, please contact me and tell me a little about what you care to work on. I’m licensed to work with Pennsylvania residents.

If you are a runner or endurance athlete, living in the United States, newer or have been doing involved in it for a while, and you felt like I was speaking to you, then consider reaching out.

I am a licensed in Pennsylvania, but I offer mindset and mental wellness coaching nationwide. When you reach out to me for an initial consultation, please mention coaching services because it is different than mental health counseling. Coaching is a non-clinical service.

Find specific information about my coaching services here. – The link will take you to my other professional website, Finish Stronger Mindset and Mental Wellness Coaching. You can contact me about coaching from there.

I look forward to learning about how I can support you in your goals!

Country running in Albion, IN

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