“Pretend that you are 80 years old, and you know, one of those 80-year-olds who are lucky to be in good health. Imagine that you are sitting in a comfortable armchair with a grandchild or two on your lap. One of those grandchildren ask you ‘Grandma, why did you wakeboard? Like really, why did you do it?’. What would you respond? Why do you do it?”
I got this assignment from a very wise sports psychologist when I was going through my injury right before I was allowed back on my board after 14 months off the water. He told me to write it down, everything I could think of, from the immense feeling of pride after winning a contest to the friends I’ve met along the way and to the simple joy of carving through glassy water. I went home and made my list (which i quite long and personal) and one week later we went through it together.
There were two main points that he suggested I write down on a piece of paper and put up on my wall at home:
- The feeling of warm water spraying against my legs.
- The feeling in my belly after I land a new- or old trick perfect.
These are the two most important internal goals and reasons to why I wakeboard. They are so simple and they don’t require anyone else or give me any kind or performance anxiety. When I started wakeboarding again after my injury I had times where I got frustrated that I wasn’t on the same level as right before my accident. “I might as well quit because nobody think I’m gonna make a comeback anyway” were some of the thoughts on my darkest days. Sometimes I felt like people counted me out and their doubt was shining through their eyes. I’d like to say that I was one of those people who’s determination never wavered during my recovery process, and I kinda was… for the first eight months. After it became clear that I needed a third surgery, my motivation acted like a yoyo and some days I felt like Pippi Longstocking while others I woke up as Eeyore the donkey. I think it was during this time I learned the most about myself as I adapted the motto “If your heart becomes tired, walk with your legs, but keep going”. I tried not to think about how I was going to get kicked off the national team or how people thought I was done and gone from the scene. I just kept going to the gym over and over and over again and when I got back on my board I thought back to the reasons why I’m even in this sport. It isn’t because of what other people think of me, not (mainly) about winning medals or traveling the world. Those two simple reasons in my notebook are my main reasons and those are the two reasons I focused on. By doing so I felt joy every time I went out on the water and I kept chasing that feeling of landing new tricks or perfecting old ones. By focusing on my own goals, everything else kinda started falling into place and now we’re here; at the end of my first season back. I am riding on the same level as I was before my injury, a few weeks ago I won my first contest since my surgery and thanks to Slingshot Wakeboards, I just released my very first pro model wakeboard!
I wanted to share this drill with you as I believe it changed the way I look at things. Why do YOU do what it is you do? What will you tell those grandchildren? And is your focus on what others think of you, money or fame? Can you change it to where you’re focusing on only those most important bits, the ones that make it truly worth it. The ones that make you, you.