Return On Investment

Return On Investment

Apr 26, 2017

Return On Investment

As my thirty-fifth birthday quickly approaches I have been thinking about past birthdays and what it felt like to want to be a grown up as a kid. It’s weird, but when I was a kid I thought being an adult was going to be the most amazing thing ever. I’d be able to stay up late, eat cookies whenever I wanted to, play video games at the drop of a hat, drive, and basically do whatever I want. But, as a person who by all intents and purposes is an adult with a fiancé, a professional life, a house, two dogs, and gobs of responsibility I can tell you that my thought process was way off. The funny thing is I don’t know that I would be able to articulate what it is like to be an “adult” to my past self or even any child that would ask me. Hell, I am still figuring it out. It is not this clean step-by-step process, it is a messy confusing monster of a thing that I can’t really wrap my mind around. I think that the process of growing up is a great deal like math. One needs to learn the basics like addition and subtraction, then move on to multiplication and division, then to algebra, then pre-calculus, then calculus, then statists, then on to differential equations, and so on. One can’t just jump into thermodynamics without a strong foundation in basic math. It all builds upon itself and it takes time. Most of us want to start on something and run through each stage with ease, and master it quickly. Some of us expect this process to happen. But, the truth is, most of the time, gaining an understanding of something will take much more time and effort that we initially thought. In my mind the equations goes a little something like this: time plus experience hopefully equals understanding and/expertise.


I bring this up because I am going through a similar experience regarding powerlifting. I feel terrible. My body hurts, I am tired all the time, motivation to do anything but go to the gym ebbs and flows on a schedule I cannot predict, mowing the lawn will completely waste me, I often don’t want to go out, the list goes on and on. I don’t even know how to explain the things that I feel on a day–to-day basis to other lifters let alone to the Average Joe. If given hours to write a letter to my past self about the side effects of the programming I’d go through I would only be able to convey that it would suck. It would be like explaining what it is to be an adult to a child. One simply must go through it. I hope I am not coming off as too much of a complainer, because I realize that I am doing this to myself. A long time ago I decided that I wanted to get strong, and that is slowly happening. I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be (assuming that there actually is an end game), but I have also traveled a long way from bench pressing ninety-five pounds when I was in high school. Right now, the return on investment that I am getting is worth it. The chance to break into the six-hundred-pound bench press level makes all of the pain, flu like symptoms, lethargy, time in the gym, and so on worth it, on the whole. There are days when I question myself, when I get angry that I am still in the gym and not at home. I get upset about the responsibilities I have and the costs I pay. I can no longer go out to multiple concerts a month because the lack of sleep will destroy me. I can’t go out and play pick up basketball because I don’t have the energy to spend. I can’t go out drinking too often because I will waste the entire next day maybe two dealing with a massive hang over. These are just some of the opportunity costs that I am excepting because I want to be an above-average lifter. I am sacrificing things that I want to do for a larger goal, and sometimes I hate it. But, much like investing over time I am glad that I put in what I could when I could.


I’ve come to the realization that part of the equations for being happy in powerlifting, and maybe even in life is you have to be doing things for the right reason. Basically, you have to know what type of return you are getting on what you are investing. In my nearly thirty-five years on this earth, roughly twenty-nine years participating in sports, twenty-one years lifting weights, and eight years of competing as a powerlifter I’ve come to realize that no one cares. This isn’t a nihilistic statement, I am not saying give up on what you’re doing, but if you take a second and think about it, almost no one cares how well you do. You are the person that is affected. Your family and friends will root for you no matter how well or poorly you do. Your gym partners will help you out as much as they can, but will not feel the crushing blow of defeat if you don’t make a qualifying lift at a meet. Generally, if you can’t make a competition no one will really care, the meet will go on and they will focus on themselves. Most of the time when you talk to a non-athlete, telling them your totals won’t impress them or impress them for only a very short time. We’ve all be there when you’ve causally dropped a line about how big your total was at the last meet and the person you said it too can’t even conceptualize that amount of weight, or they ask what is involved in a powerlifting meet. In this sport, or even any sport that is moderately obscure or not mainstream, or below the multimillion-dollar professional level you do it for yourself. The investment is your time and effort the return is a better future version of yourself. I personally like powerlifting in that manner because I can measurably see how much better I am i.e. ‘my bench-press is sixty-five pounds better than it was four months ago.’ This is very much like investing. One does not or shouldn’t invest to impress other people. Most of the time it is not exciting talking about bonds, stocks, and mutual funds. However, it is satisfying to watch your nest egg grow. On the other hand, often time we buy things to impress other people, cars, tickets to sporting events, and new electronics. These are nice to have, but there really is no return on the investment if you are doing this for other people. This ties into powerlifting if you are doing for other people, you’ll probably hate it or stagnate with your progress.


If you got into sports to impress people, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. There are tons of celebrities and important people out there that you couldn’t pick out of a line up. If one of your state representatives walked up to you in the super market and said hello would you know who they were? I can say that I would probably fail that test. I bring this up, because these people are talented and driven, much like an athlete should be, but they may not get the recognition that they feel they deserve, but that is part of the game, isn’t it? This is why I am advocating do this for yourself, get as big a return on whom you are as you can, because that will make you a passionate and hopefully an interesting person. By the sheer fact that a person has decided to compete, and I mean compete and not do a 5K fun run/walk, that person has decided to better themselves and take a harder road. This harder road will temper a person; provide them life experience that is hard to distill down into bite-sized pieces of knowledge. Taking the harder road is rewarding in ways that can’t be explained. Thinking about who I am as a person and who I want to be as a future man, I only have an idea of what I want and that may differently greatly from what happens. This parallels the idea that the person I used to be could not imagine the person that I am now. However, there has always been this driving force to improve. Keep investing in yourself be it in sport, culture, knowledge, spiritualism, etc. It’ll be interesting to see what your nest egg has matured into.


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