When Life Gets in the Way

TAGS: reaching goals, Cory Cannici, achieving success, overcoming obstacles, iron game

I used to hate that phrase. It was an excuse posted far too often in articles and comment sections—“I was going to kick ass today, but life got in the way.” So the person posted about it on an internet forum instead. What a vague statement—“life.” I imagined it meant laziness and weakness for 95 percent of the people who used it. They didn’t know what “life” was. But neither did I.

Years ago, Martin Rooney taught me that “no one is holding you back from your dreams except for you.” That phrase is still true. You are in control of your own life and, inevitably, how the day-to-day process plays out. You control the grand scheme, but sometimes the minor details tend to sway in the winds of something like a hurricane. Sometimes you can’t train or eat like an animal or be a badass. Sometimes you have to sit inside in the dark and pick up an old hobby like writing by flashlight. You can kick “life” in the teeth by channeling your energy for something else valuable that you might have forgotten in your pursuit of a 500-pound deadlift or by spending it helping a family member or even another lifter pursue his goals safely and effectively. What matters is that you don’t let that fire inside you burn out.

If you're prevented from following your passion, turn that energy or that desire into something else no matter what. Be an efficient machine. Don’t lose sight of all the ways you can make yourself a better human being. I’ve had a couple surgeries for hernias that I tend to recover very slowly from. I feel like if I even look at a barbell, my abdominal wall will split open again, spilling my guts all over the squat rack. Whatever. Refocus that energy. As a trainer, my hernia recovery has allowed me to get better at what I do. Understand why injuries happen. Relate to clients. Get better at preventing these things for the next person and get better at recovering yourself. Maybe I reentered the gym a little early last time or maybe it was my fault, not “life’s.” As they say on this site so often, live, learn, and pass on.

Perhaps you aren’t a trainer or even a devoted lifter. When life gets in the way, as it currently is outside my window here in the northeast, rediscover what it is you used to love. What did you used to obsess about? Develop a new vision for success or fun or for making your family happy. I was a writing major in college. I used to write for the paper, write in my free time, write for other people to make an extra buck. But I haven’t written a thing in years until this very moment. I currently can’t grind out a new PR, so I’m refocusing my efforts even with the lights out. Life is slamming on the windows and straining my abdomen when I stand up, but it isn’t getting in the way of everything. Find what it is that you are passionate about. Seriously. Stop wasting your time complaining anonymously and do it. “Life” is mostly looked at as a challenge, but through challenge comes opportunity. Having surgery or losing power for a day or two can push you to be great, but you have to want it. You have to understand what is happening and react to it. And you have to have the desire and drive to make yourself better.

Some people have it way worse. Some people suffer debilitating injuries. They blow out discs or break a hip and can never follow their biggest passions again. Some people have their homes or livelihoods swept out to sea. Some people lose loved ones. But most often, these are the people we need to look up to. These are the people rebuilding their lives the day after. These aren’t the people browsing comment sections of websites talking about how “life” got in the way. Listen to these people and learn from their responses. Life truly can get in the way. It’s about identifying what “life” is versus what results from our own poor habits. “Life” isn't tearing a muscle because you neglected to put in the time to learn how to foam roll. It isn't failure to safely train through or around some discomfort. It’s about how we react and bounce back from the things we simply can't avoid. It’s about how we rebuild.

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