My friend, Randi, decided she wanted to give cross-country skiing a try and asked if I’d take her and her daughter. I’ve loved cross country skiing since I was in 7th grade in Minnesota, and the trails are fantastic this winter—so I was happy she asked.
In case you’ve never been cross country skiing, let me fill you in on one important thing to know when you’re out on the trails. Along the way, you’ll see trail markers in different colors: green means it’s easier, blue indicates more difficult, and black is most difficult.
At the first intersection, Randi noticed the sign with two choices: left for easy (green) and right for challenging (black). She asked, “Why would anyone choose the black trail? Isn’t cross country skiing supposed to be relaxing and fun?”
Huh. I never thought of it that way before. I realized that I usually pick the black trail, as it’s more fun and challenging. It gets my adrenaline pumping and feels good to conquer a difficult pass.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t choose the most difficult path in everything I do. When I go running or biking with my friend Nancy, she always wants to take a harder and steeper route than I’d pick!
What Color Is Your Trail?
My challenge for you is not to always pick the harder path, but to recognize the trail you’re on—and choose how you want to move forward.
If there was a marker representing your life right now, what color would it be? Easy-peasy green? A little rocky blue? Or extreme caution black? Unlike ski trails, life can throw us obstacles that we don’t choose. So it’s possible the path you’re on right now isn’t one you wanted.
For me, I’m on a couple different paths right now. At work, I’m definitely on a black trail. My book is coming out in a few months, and we have several other big, new initiatives we’re working on—like launching the Thoughtfully Fit Gym and The Intentional Team Player. There are sharp twists and turns, difficult uphills, followed by scary downhills, and I’m loving the challenge!
In my home life with two teenage daughters, well that trail goes back and forth between green and blue—and some days black. Unlike work, I didn’t choose to have my daughters home with me all day, every day for the last eleven months! Some days we find our groove. Other days are exponentially more difficult.
One-Minute Thoughtfully Fit Workout
How about you? Take some time for this one-minute work-out.
Pause. Assess what color trail you’re on right now.
Think. Reflect on the following questions:
What will help you navigate the trail you’re on?
When I’m on a green ski trail, I can kind of go on auto-pilot. However, if I go on auto-pilot on a black trail, chances are good I’m going to hurt myself.
The same is true off the ski hill. If I’d coast in my work right now, things wouldn’t go the way that I’d want them to. The same is true at home. If I’m not present with my daughters, especially when dealing with challenges, the path would only get harder.
What trail do you want to be on?
If you’re on a green trail, is that where you want to be? Or do you want to step it up? Are you enjoying the ride? Or getting a little bored?
If you’re on a black trail, are you still having fun with the twists and turns? Are you leaning in to the edge on that unexpected downhill? Or are you about to crash?
Act. With this new awareness, choose your actions thoughtfully. Or find a way to give yourself some grace when you aren’t handling the unexpected challenges the way you want to.
You’re Not Alone on the Trail
One more thing to keep in mind. Your green trail might be someone else’s black, and vice versa. An easy work project for you, may not be for others. So check in with your colleagues, friends and family to see what trail they’re currently on. Provide some support where you can and ask for help when you need it.
Life’s trails and trials are hard enough.
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