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Approach starting your career change like you would the gym.

Woman in the gym with towel round her neck looking up.

It’s taken about a year for my PT to get me to the gym.

For some reason, the thought of going to the gym pushes me out of my comfort zone just a little too far…

#1 the thought of sweaty bodies coming too close;

#2 the pressure of someone waiting for the machine I’m using;

#3 the worry an Olympic team has decided to train in this gym (I know, I know…);

#4 the mirrors EVERYWHERE so you can see how badly you’re grimacing when lifting weights;

#5 not being able to sing along to my playlist;

#6 the fear of finding out I’m a complete weakling and EVERYONE ELSE is much fitter and stronger than me;

#7 the inconvenience of having to leave the house to work out;

#8 and all the dodgy lycra.

How’s that for a list of reasons to stay working out at home? And this list has been very successful in its mission to keep me away from the gym.

My PT (who is also a physio, an osteopath and an acupuncturist…and the rest) – we’ll call him Jeff – set the scene for the inaugural gym visit: we go in, we observe, take it slow, acclimatise a little and try some machines out, not pushing it, just getting used to being there, noticing how I feel.

At first I felt like the first day of school.  

Clocking a few muscles around the place as I lent into Jeff’s advice to observe, worry #6 reared its head, but after some deadlifts I felt pleased with my efforts and I knew I wasn’t a weakling – #6 be gone.  Fortunately I wasn’t facing the mirror during this exercise and as Jeff didn’t roll about laughing at me #4 suffered a similar fate.

As we moved to the machines which allow you to isolate the muscles you want to work on (Jeff described these as rehab machines – if you are injured this is where you would be), I felt more relaxed and began to laugh a little. I had been warned not to laugh on entering the gym in case I got thrown out – I think Jeff was worried I might get a little hysterical, it having taken so long to get me to enter a gym.

By the time we had finished, my legs were wobbly but my mind was set. Jeff had not waited in vain. He tasked me with continuing to get acclimatised with the gym over the next month and most of all to approach it as play.

Figuring out a new career often takes a similar course to this approach to going to the gym. 

A whole list of worries and concerns (fears) keep you safe and secure. As you take the first tentative step towards exploring new possibilities you begin to realise this Goliath isn’t quite as big and bad as you had made out. As you get acclimatised, you find yourself having fun, using muscles you didn’t know you had and getting results more easily than you imagined.

If this is you, I encourage you to ‘do a Jeff’:

  • Decide when you’re going to start.
  • Get the right gear so you feel comfortable.
  • Give yourself time and space.
  • Approach with calmness.
  • Observe.
  • Don’t overdo it – take it slow and steady.
  • Notice signals that give you indications about how you’re feeling (body language, voice etc) so you can slow down and adjust your approach to maintain calmness and openness.
  • Spend the next month acclimatising.
  • Play!

Here’s to you discovering a new career in a calm and grounded way.

Photo by unknown on Canva.