Posted by Ronan Scully in Features.

I recently did a charity cycle from Maynooth to Galway. It’s a really long way for an amateur to cycle, especially when you’re cycling against the wind and rain!

A cycle challenge is an athletic endeavour but it is also a metaphor for life. Just as in life, the cycle is all about the journey, not the end result. As I cycled, I realised that this might be the only time that I would ever cycle such a distance, so I needed to savor the experience. And what an experience it was, with many epiphanies and very spiritual moments along the way. Often, we wish our lives away, wanting to reach a certain place in life in order to be happy. However, oftentimes the satisfaction derived from settling an objective is not so much in attaining the objective, but in the anticipation and striving toward the objective.

Mental techniques

Cycling long distances is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Yes, there is intense hard work that must be done in order to be physically prepared for the cycle when it comes along, but when the later miles arrive, and your legs begin to complain after making the same repetitive movements up to the mind to override the urge to quit. You must figure out  some mental techniques to keep from quitting, whether that’s mentally dividing the challenge into sections, doing each mile for someone’s intentions or loved one in your life or chatting with others along the way and encouraging one another to keep going. Similar strategies can be applied to everyday life. We may face difficult life situations that require mental toughness, but we can make it through many stressful periods if we just find the mental strength necessary to continue onward.

Just keep going

I was amazed at the rush of energy I got while cycling the last stretch of the challenge. The key is just to keep going, even if that means going slowly. No matter how hard things get, there is usually an end in sight, if we just keep going forward. Life is difficult. We are pressured and stressed and pulled in various directions. Amidst the rush and hustle of the daily grind, it can be easy to lose ourselves and forget what really matters. We get steered off course and put all our energy toward things that ultimately—when it really gets down to it—don’t matter much at all. Remembering what really matters in life requires a conscious effort, and here’s to each of us trying to live a life that really matters and that always helps rather than hurts our fellow human being.

Thought for the week

As your thought for the week, keep going forward no matter what challenges life throws at you and don’t be afraid to give help and receive help, as you make that journey. Don’t forget to savor the experience, as it is all about the journey and not the end result.