Wellness

Make your life more meaningful with an athlete’s techniques

If you're thinking "there has to be more than this", it's time to harness your inner endurance athlete.

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What makes an ordinary woman quit her office job and decide to do something out of the ordinary instead? Say, become an endurance athlete, despite the fact she’s not actually an athlete, has never competed professionally, or exercised before in any serious way? Sophie Radcliffe knows.

The former office worker-turned-record-breaking adventurer, aka Challenge Sophie, has the sort of confidence and dogged determination you watch from afar, with admiration. It’s not the sort of thing anyone can just get. Or is it?

This is what a group of 30 gathered at a silent disco-style presentation and workshop at Fora – Central Street in London have come to find out. How can we make our lives feel a little bit more like the ones we actually want to live? We came to hear Sophie’s story – and steal her techniques for ourselves.

In 2013, Sophie’s 9-5 job was earning her enough money to pay rent and go to the pub after work. “But I kept thinking, ‘Is this it?’” she says. She couldn’t shake the feeling she “wasn’t living the life I actually wanted.” She had a passion for the active life and had completed exciting races and triathlons after university. She confided in friends, thought about quitting more than once. Then, someone told her something that lit a fire: “A boat in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what a boat was built for. Go sailing.”

She resigned the next day.

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That day, she also started a blog: ‘Challenge Sophie.’ Within six months she was being sponsored as an athlete to do her first Ironman. Then she became the first person to cycle the Alps, climbing the highest mountains in the eight alpine countries. Now, she is a full time adventurer with nearly 50k followers and has partnerships with brands like Land Rover Explorer, GoPro, and KEEN. “I knew if I wanted to create the type of life I dreamed of living” she says, “it would mean making some changes.”

So, whether you want a full-on overhaul, like Sophie, or you just want to make some satisfying tweaks, here are your new commandments.

Stoke the fire

If you get a feeling that there’s something you want to do, or a burst of inspiration, there’s a reason for it. Be curious, and try new things to keep that fire and interest going, says Sophie. It might be something creative or volunteering.

For Sophie it was physical challenges. “I went on my first challenge, and enjoyed it, so I went on another one. It all came from there.” Keep doing the things that are making you feel that buzz.

Remember people love a beginner

When you’re first trying something out, you can worry you won’t fit in because you don’t know enough. In fact, people naturally warm to first-timers. And it can actually lead to opportunities because…

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Fire attracts fire

When you’re passionate about something, “people can see it in your eyes,” says Sophie. When you have that look, people want to be around it, and opportunities will come to you. Someone might ask you to join their business, or get involved in a project, or join a club. Sophie’s found that “stoking your passion will always lead to more new things.”

Prove to yourself it's worth it

It’s normal to struggle with motivation. “I have days when I don’t want to get up and work out!” says Sophie. Remind yourself of your ‘why’, she says: what’s in it for you if you push through that initial reluctance?

“Each time you want to quit and don’t, you prove to yourself it was worth it to push through that barrier” she adds. “You train your mind, and next time it’ll be easier.”

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Write your 'confidence columns'

 

There are things that raise your confidence, and things that lower it. Knowing what yours are gives you power. Draw a line down a piece of paper. On one side make a note of your confidence boosters, however small (e.g. ‘drinking good coffee in the morning’) and on the other, your confidence lowerers (e.g. ‘fellow commuters being rude’) Do more of the things in column one, and stay lightly aware of those in column two.

Let yourself feel

It can be tempting to try and get rid of a bad mood. Sophie wants you to allow it to flow. “Let yourself have a mini breakdown!” she says. “You’ll feel so much clearer and ready for the world afterwards.”