As a sponsored paddler, I sometimes feel pressure to go big and never mess up. This just isn’t my reality. I have bad days. I have great days. I have days where I go to a river I feel comfortable on and days I face a fear, run a rapid that kicked my butt or venture on a new river the increases my heart rate like no other. I am also a full time physical education teacher and basketball coach. Here are some things in my life that I do to try and maintain both sides of being a “professional.”
1. Work will demand. I have to remember to stick to my passion and take time for myself or I will resent the demands of my work. Kayaking is never a question. It is a part of who I am. Don’t feel bad for taking time for yourself.
2. Slow things down. Anyone that knows me, knows I am always on the go. Everyone once in a while, I have to allow myself to be lazy. Recharge my batteries if you will.
3. Just because I paddle for Team JK does not mean I have to throw myself off every 20-40-60 footer I encounter. I can walk and I will walk. Just because I have walked something, doesn’t mean I will always walk it. I get to a rapid and go from there. If I am feeling it, I “fire” it up. If I am not feeling it, I walk. There is no shame in this. If someone wants to judge, find a new crew.
4. A personal life matters. Make time for your non-kayak friends, significant other, families and those that aren’t co-workers. They matter.
5. Aspire to be better every day. This may be inspiring someone else, leading by example or getting in the weight room for preventative care.
6. Teach. This is easy for me, it is my full time job. Spread the love on the river, but know when it is appropriate.
7. Prioritize. What is most important to you at this moment and is this something you can maintain? For me, my responsibilities of a coach takes all my afternoons and evenings away. This leaves the weekends to kayak. Sometimes, things come before kayaking and this is okay. Rivers will always be there.
8. Enjoy what you do. If you are not smiling majority of the time, you might be in the wrong business!
9. Write yourself to-do lists. Or in this day and age, just tell Siri what you need done. Make it happen and check those things off your lists.
10. Don’t forget to be yourself. Never lose yourself in all the madness of the day-to-day crap that you need to accomplish. Work hard, play even harder!