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Why You Should Listen to Your Inner Voice

First thing Monday morning, the basketball court at the Riekes Center was silent when I flicked on the lights. 

The ball made a lonely “boom...boom” as I slowly dribbled into the key, feeling flat and unmotivated. I tossed the workout from my trainer aside when a 20-minute dynamic warm-up wasn’t enough to cut through the exhaustion of a long weekend of work. Even part-time swim coaches don’t get traditional weekends. I have on many occasions in the last seven years gone four or six (or in one horrible stretch, EIGHT) weeks without a single day completely off work.

I was once again facing down a long week of work already tired. I didn’t really want to do anything other than have a second cup of coffee and catch up on the Sunday New York Times, but felt the press of a long list of things that demanded attention and energy. 

Ah, darn you, real world.

Boom...boom went the basketball as I walked in a circle, debating what to do. Ignore the tired feeling and workout anyway? Skip the workout and head into work? Go home and get back into bed? I stood in the middle of the key and looked at the hoop - it seemed higher than usual.

Half-heartedly, I tossed up a gentle shot and it went “thwoop” - nothing but net. “Do it again!” said my inner child. I put up another gentle shot. Thwoop. A smile slowly came across my face, as I remembered the thrill of being a starter on the basketball team my freshman year of high school. 

Soon I was trotting around the key, mostly hearing “thwoop” as I went through my old pre-game warm-up routine. It felt like summer in my backyard! Before long, 3-point shots were falling silently through the net, or I was pulling down rebounds over improbably-short imaginary defenders. “She grabs the rebound! And puts up the jumper! For TWO! They take the lead!” By the end, I was giddy and stress-free. I felt deep gratitude for muscle memory and also for courage.

As an athlete you get used to following directions. You dance a very fine line between listening to yourself and ignoring that voice that says: “I’m tired, I don’t WANT to do X, which so-and-so says I need to do.” As a retired athlete, it is - at first - weirdly scary to have to make and follow your own directions. 

It took me about two-and-a-half years of retirement to figure out that if my inner child wants to skip the prescribed workout and go play, that’s exactly, precisely the No. 1 thing I need to do. I chased that basketball around the court for a good 30 minutes, at which point I was drenched in sweat and, by the way, totally winning the imaginary game. Good workout, fun times, I told myself. High five! 

A little bit of listening to your inner voice goes a long way.

An hour after I had flicked on the gym lights, I flicked on the lights in my office, and had one of the most productive weeks ever. Coincidence? Not in the least. A little bit of listening to your inner voice goes a long way.

What do you need to do today? Is it coming from your head? Or your heart?

Athletics
success,personal growth,health,Illuminate

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