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Adverse Circumstances Need Not Determine Your Choices – Three Considerations For Choosing Based On What Really Matters

On Tuesday mornings this fall, I have been going out for regular rides with a group of women. We had been riding weekly all summer and decided to continue into the fall as long as the weather allowed. The other day the forecast was rain, wind and cool temperatures. The rest of the women decided to forego the ride. I was determined to get out there…so I did. By the time  I got on my bike late morning, a light mist had developed which, within 10 minutes, turned into rain. Nevertheless, I carried on and rode our regular 30k route despite the lousy conditions. It was cold. My rain jacket wasn’t as waterproof as I expected. I had to work as hard on my attitude as I did pedalling. Given that I had no one to talk to but myself, I reflected on why I was so determined to ride despite the weather. Here’s what I came up with:

  • I’m a fair weather cyclist. I only like to ride when it’s nice out. The weather where I live in Ontario Canada has become more uncertain as fall settles in. I want to keep riding throughout the fall and I don’t want the lousy weather conditions get in the way of riding. I was out once in the rain during the summer however it was a very warm day and the rain was actually pleasant. Cold and wet was a new experience.
  • Having a set time to ride on Tuesday mornings gives me a target. I have it in my schedule which helps ensure that I get out and maintain the habit of riding – a habit that is easy to let slide when I don’t have a race to get me out training. Especially when the weather isn’t the best.
  • Riding helps my running. Running is my big passion. Regular riding helps keep me in alignment and in good form for running.
  • Most of all, I like being outside much more than indoors on a trainer or at the gym. During this transitional time of year from hot to cold and dry to wet, it’s easy to focus on the unpleasant aspects of being outside. I want to circumvent that line of thinking.

Three Considerations For Making Choices In Adverse Circumstances

Pondering further, I came up with these three considerations for making choices in seemingly adverse circumstances.

  1. Circumstances are a matter of perspective. What’s adverse to one person may be an opportunity to someone else. Rain, cold and wind may be ‘adverse’ riding conditions, yet for me they were an opportunity to develop mental discipline – a trait I want to strengthen because it’s so easy for me to say ‘I’ll ride tomorrow’ and you know how that plays out…tomorrow never comes.
  2. Circumstances are context specific. Because I had it in my head that I was going to ride that day, the weather was a variable to deal with not stop me. It meant dressing accordingly and checking out my wind and wet weather gear because I never know what the weather will be during a race. In this instance, I learned my new rain ‘resistant’ jacket wasn’t very resistant in pouring rain. Not pleasant in the moment but good to know!
  3. Circumstances bring clarity. Pondering a rainy cold ride helped me reconfirm a commitment  I made to myself to keep some level of consistent training on the bike this fall and winter. I want to be a stronger cyclist and it’s easy for me to let bike training lapse in ‘adverse’ conditions like weather or worst of all, indoor training! I like being outdoors so getting on a trainer indoors in the winter requires extra discipline. Riding outdoors in lousy weather is still a gift as winter and snow approach.   

Lessons From Rainy Riding: I am more than the circumstances.

Think of the times we are momentarily grateful that we ‘don’t have to do something’ or back out because a circumstance arose that gave us an opportunity to give up in the moment…with justification! Here’s what I discovered is possible by overriding the circumstances:

  • Developing mental discipline in sports translates into confidence. When unpleasant or unforeseen situations arise, I am able to make choices that align with what’s important to me. Even when, or especially when it feels ‘hard’.
  • Inner strength has universal application. If I can persevere on the cold wet wind on a ride, I know I can do the same when challenges arise in business, family or elsewhere in my life.
  • Overcoming adverse circumstances gives me the courage and fortitude to begin again and again and again because I know I ‘will survive’.     

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned from endurance sports is that I have the stamina, resiliency, and wherewithal to figure out how to start, continue and finish especially when in adverse circumstances. And ultimately get to the next start line. Start lines represent the next opportunity to discover what else is possible and find More-In-Me. Because there’s always more.

What are the circumstances that tend to get in your way and how do you override them? What helps you make choices that fuel your more-in-me? 

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