What do you do when you just don’t feel like doing it anymore? Your passion has long gone and it just feels like you’re going through the motions. Getting up, getting dressed for skating, grabbing your school uniform and homework, going to the rink, having a lesson – where nothing, absolutely nothing, is working – and then heading off to school.
Those once upon a time dreams of skating for your country, reaching the dizzy heights of Olympic stardom, your gleaming, beaming face on posters everywhere are like a bunch of balloons being popped, one by one, till you’re left holding a load of string and bits of burst balloon.
But you would never give up. Skating may not love you back just now, but you’re still in love with the magic you feel at that moment when you step on the ice and feel the cool air on your face and remember the little child who fell in love with skating all those years ago.
So when Mum, or Dad say to you “why don’t you give it up if you don’t enjoy it anymore?” The answer will be a scowl. A frown. Too complicated for them to understand why, no matter how bad it gets, you will never, ever want to let go.
And there’s the problem. It has got pretty bad. Nothing is working. Your coach might as well be speaking “whale” for all the success he or she is having with getting you to do this or that. You just.can’t.do.it. You’re stuck.
I read this week that when you’re stuck, it’s a sign that something needs to change. And in my world (and yours) this is absolutely true. When you’re stuck it’s because you are doing the same thing, over and over again and getting the same results. To get different results, something needs to change. It could be a big change, or a little one – just a tweak – but either way, there needs to be change. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to know what to change and by how much – and it’s really only sensible to change one thing at a time, or you won’t know what it was that finally produced the result you needed.
So what can you change when nothing seems to be improving?
- Your outlook. The very first thing which needs to change is your attitude to what is going on. If you are focused on what’s going wrong, then it will continue to go wrong. Start to focus on what you WANT instead of what you DON’T WANT.
- Start with the end in mind. One of the “7 habits of highly effective people” (Steven Covey) tells us to start with the end result in mind. What do you want to be able to do? Where do you want to get to? Thinking about the end result first basically means you are setting a goal. And setting a goal is the first step towards achieving it.
- Work out the ‘interim steps’ that will get you to your goal. What is your coach perpetually telling you to do which you have been ignoring or avoiding or simply misunderstanding? If they keep saying “Do X with your knees when you get to Y” and you just haven’t been doing it – why is that? Is it because you’re not really sure what they mean (and you’re maybe too shy to ask for more explanation)? Is it because you’re confused because someone else told you differently? Is it because you just forget when you get to that point? Is it because you’re not sure how it should feel? These things are likely to be the smaller changes you need to make to get to the point where your goal is achieved.
- Ask questions. If you don’t know what the coach means exactly, ask. Be courageous and ask what they mean if you’re not sure. Nobody wants to spend their time explaining something to someone who just nods but clearly doesn’t have a clue what you mean! So if you’re not sure, make sure to say so.
- Teach someone else. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of teaching someone less able than you to do something which you can do well. And it has the added bonus of helping you to see how the particular move is broken down into smaller parts. You’d be amazed at how much it helps you to do something better by teaching it to somebody else.
Just occasionally, being really stuck calls for a BIG change. Like from figure skating to dance or pairs or synchro – or vice versa. Do you enjoy the footwork, but you’re finding the jumps more and more challenging to the point where they are wearing you down? Or are you longing to get on and jump and do more difficult stuff?
Other small changes could be a quick trip to a different rink for a one-off practice session. New ice, new faces, can all breathe fresh air into your skating and give you a bit of motivation back. Perhaps you’re a small fish in a big pond so being at a rink where you shine a little could just give you a little bit of confidence to sparkle again. Or a big fish in a small pond might be motivated by seeing so many really good skaters on the ice and feeling more challenged.
It’s no coincidence that people say “A change is as good as a rest”.
Whatever the case – the bottom line is, being stuck is a sign that something needs to change. You just need to work out what, and start doing things differently.