Whenever we are pursuing an important goal it is important to remember the rule of thirds. Olympians and their coaches use this measure to align their training schedule. The goal is to be sure we are applying enough pressure to succeed while avoiding injury and overwhelm. The key is to rest so that elite athletes may carry on rather than give up. The rule of thirds is is a growth strategy and progress check. It is not just for Olympians or athletes. The rule is this – as you pursue a goal, your path will typically follow this formula.
1/3 will be wonderful. You’re going to stick your landings and feel terrific.
1/3 will be terrible. You’re going to make mistakes and feel like you’re not doing things properly.
1/3 will be fine. You’re moving ahead but don’t feel strongly either way.
What’s important is that you pay attention to how you’re feeling. If it feels great all the time maybe you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Perhaps things are too easy and you’re not progressing. Maybe you’ve plateaued and you’re not pushing hard enough.
If you feel terrible for more than a third of the time, maybe you’re pushing too hard. Maybe you need to rest or consider a different approach. Maybe there are several small steps you can take instead of the giant leap you are fixated on at that moment. Taking a break for recovery is a necessary and important component to long term success and goal attainment.
Trust your experience and the rule of thirds to inform your decisions. If you feel terrible all the time or even just more than a third of the time, maybe you don’t want to be doing this. Is there another path that is calling to you to try? Maybe you love the sport but would be happier coaching. Maybe you love the field but want to try another area of expertise.
The final third will be relatively uneventful days. You feel good but not great and like you could do better but you’re not at your worst. These are good days too. The same applies as the other two thirds, if it’s too easy add some challenges and if it’s too challenging relieve some of that pressure. If you’re consistently moving forward there’s no reason why you should be swaying in any one direction for more than a third of the time.
So take a deep breath and remember that the feeling is temporary. If you swing too far in any one direction it might be time for a change. Paying attention to how you feel helps you to know you’re on the right path. We all want to attain our goals and we pursue them doggedly. Just make sure that your labor is one of love. We do this work because we love it. Because it brings us joy, and because it connects us to our higher purpose. When you’re chasing a dream and aligned with your purpose the rule of thirds is a great tool that helps keep the balance.