I ran a triathlon this past weekend. It wasn’t my first. And it won’t be my last. I have another on the calendar in a few weeks.
Why is this significant? Simple: I’m a pretty crappy triathlete.
This isn’t false modesty. It’s painfully true. I’m a terrible swimmer. In fact, what I do in the water barely meets the minimum requirements of swimming. There are icebergs that move through the water with more grace. My biking isn’t much better. I have the mobility of one of those circus bears on the little tricycles. At best, I am a little below average. And though my running is my strongest discipline, it’s not near strong enough to redeem my weaknesses in the water and on the bike. It’s like a pretty girl with bad teeth. Not enough to redeem the whole package.
The triathlons and adventure races I participate in challenge me tremendously. They push me to my limits mentally and physically. I have to fight for time to train. In a word, they are really hard.
Which is exactly why I do them.
I came to the realization a few years ago that life is too short for lame goals. We have one shot at this thing.
My friend Aaron, who is a REAL triathlete, gave me some advice once. I asked him what it was like training for an Ironman Triathlon. His response was simple and powerful: “You have to be comfortable with discomfort.” This isn’t just great advice for exercise. It’s deeply meaningful advice for life. We can take the easy route, avoiding discomfort, and we will inevitably live a life that is safer. But it will also be more predictable, more vanilla. And ultimately, this will limit us. It’s unavoidable.
The alternate way to approach the life God has given us is to set goals that stretch us, embracing discomfort, knowing that this is the pathway to living a dynamic, rich existence. What does it look like? It’s starting a business in a bad economy. It’s having a vision for parenting and following through with it. It’s giving your time and energy to serving your church, your community, your world. It’s climbing a mountain. It’s taking a trip. It’s laying down your life to build a better life for your spouse and kids.
The question is, why aren’t you doing it?
- What’s keeping you from doing the work to repair that broken relationship in your life? Fear of discomfort?
- Why aren’t you and your spouse helping your kids live a better story? Because it requires more work? More sacrifice?
- Why haven’t you followed through on that still, quiet call God has put on your life? You know, the one that scares you to death? Because inaction is easier than action?
- What’s keeping you from investing in the lives of other people and allowing them to do the same in yours? Too busy? Too scared?
We get so few chances to do things of real consequence. And many times we don’t act because it requires more from us than we’re willing to invest. We don’t try because it’s too hard.
Not me. I’m going for it. Life’s too short for lame goals.