These were the words that escaped my lips ever so gently as an excruciating pain ripped through my ankle. I cautiously glanced at my foot. My ankle looked like an anaconda that hadn’t fully digested yesterday’s brunch of sautéed capybara .
Clutching my leg and attempting to gather my thoughts, I surveyed the flat, open farmland, which was quite beautiful at that time of day actually. My mind was elsewhere though. I was slightly more concerned with the large grapefruit that had blossomed in my foot.
My house was at least good hundred yards away, and the dry, flakey dirt was riddled with gopher holes. I looked up at the roof towering above my curled up frame. Doing my best to avoid the ubiquitous gopher holes, I grabbed my skateboard and hobbled away using my board as a cane. It didn’t work that well, but it was better than nothing I suppose.
Half an hour later I made it to the door of my house. When my sister saw me clumsily limping into the air conditioned refuge of my house, she gave a tremendous sigh, “What the hell did you do?”
“Ah, nothing it’s fine, just a sprain”.
It wasn’t a sprain. I didn’t know it yet but that shiz was broken.
I had to get surgery. It was balls.
I spent a lot of time that summer getting sighed at. Many shook their heads in my general direction. Here’s the thing though:
I regret nothing. NOTHING!
Well sure, I regret breaking my ankle. But I don’t regret the attempt at skateboarding off that roof. I don’t regret taking the risk. I was fully aware of the potential repercussions of this dangerous hobby of mine. I wasn’t jumping off the roof expecting to land in the soft embrace of fluffy clouds. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been pretty sweet if I could have Gandalfed off the roof, but I knew that was wishful thinking.
There were plenty of attempts where I DIDN’T break my ankle. In fact, there were significantly more attempts where my ankle didn’t break than did. The outcome of that final attempt was less than desireable, but I still don’t regret it, even after being chided by every single nurse in Tracy General Hospital. If I would have succeeded(which I actually did the day prior, I’ll have you know) I probably wouldn’t have received the same amount of flack. That’s kind of the nature of risk taking– sometimes you get wrecked and end up spending an entire summer playing Banjo-Kazooie on the couch(which was actually pretty sweet) waiting for your ankle to heal so you can jump off more shit, that’s why it’s a risk.
At the time, jumping off the roof was worth the potential pride and satisfaction I would incur if I rolled away. The feeling of conquering my fear was worth it. And no, I’m not recommending jumping off the roof. It’s important to take risks, but we must be fully aware of whether or not the potential risk is worth the potential reward for us.
People who don’t take risks, don’t achieve much. Fear of failure, ridicule, or even success holds us back. That’s just how it works. Fear is the mind killer.
That said, when you break your ankle, people will give you shit. Hell, people will give you shit when you succeed. The only way to not have people give you shit is to be spectacularly ordinary. And who the hell wants that?
Anyways, I digress. I want to talk about analyzing the risks and rewards of our fitness attempts.
Answering the question from last week’s post, “Just because I can do something, should I?” entails analyzing not only risks and rewards, but how our priorities and values line up with said risks and rewards.
Looking at our goals is a good starting point. Once we have clear goals it becomes easier to weigh the risks and rewards. Because no matter what we do there is a risk. Always. It might not be the risk of a broken bone, but maybe a missed opportunity. By attempting to take no risks at all, I am risking stagnation. That said some risks are unnecessary. For example, it’s unnecessary to take every set of squats to failure if the goal is to get stronger.
Here some questions that can help clarify what we are doing, why, and if it’s really what we want to be doing:
What are my goals that I am trying to achieve with this strength training program? Then rank these goals in order of importance to you.
Why are these goals important to me? Write down every single reason why each goal is important to you. Every. Single. Reason. All of them. Dig deep into this. Like your trying to evolve your Diglett into a Dugtrio.
What are the potential benefits? What is the likelihood of the these benefits if I continue doing what I’m doing?
What are the risks? What is the likelihood of these risks?
Are the risks worth the potential benefits?
Is there a way that I can still reap the benefits while minimizing the risk? i.e. eliminating unnecessary risks?
Am I acting in concordance with my values? With the things that are important to me?
The question, “Is it worth it?”, doesn’t have an objective answer. Only the individual can decide this for themselves.
So now, after answering the questions listed above, I ask you this:
Would you still jump off the roof?