Lately a lot of people have asked me about how I handle continually making sacrifices, turning down invitations to events, prioritising training, recovery and preparation over partying, friends and family.
For me it comes down to my innate personality and drive. I make my choices based on what is going to have the most rewarding impact on my life. My decisions are connected to maximizing the opportunity to reach my ambitions and dreams. I’m really comfortable with this now, but it has taken me a while to get here.
I found one of my teenage diaries, in it I’ve written about my first boyfriend. At the time, I was a typical teenage girl, I really liked this guy, I was so excited to be dating him. In spite of this, I’ve written about how I won’t actually be able to see him for a few weeks because I have training on the weekends. It didn’t even cross my mind to skip it.
A few years later, I easily made the decision not to go to schoolies after year 12, I had netball trials, there was nothing that was getting in the way of my opportunity. I didn’t make the team, but that was ok, I made the decision knowing and accepting this risk.
This made me think, I’ve been saying no to things, no to things that I do really like and want, no to things that others see as sacrifices, for a long time. These decisions when I was younger were natural, I didn’t question them. I remember thinking I was missing out on some things, but still, almost instinctively made the choices. Honestly, at the time I didn’t even see these kinds of things as choices, it just was what I needed to do.
Then I hit early twenties, so many new experiences, partying, money, popularity and I started saying yes to all of it. At the time, I lost sight of my dreams and ambitions. I struggled to focus at uni and I gradually stopped playing sport. I lived for the moment, which was fun in the moment, but I aspired for nothing.
After a while I had lost touch with myself and what makes me feel alive. I recognised sport was a part of this and decided to go back to netball, and slowly realised I was becoming hungry again. Hungry to show myself what I could do. I started climbing in netball, pushing for more challenging opportunities. I started to say no again, to things that conflicted with my priorities. At the end of a really mentally challenging season, I found myself hunting for something to get me to the next level over pre-season. I started at CrossFit Loaded, and that’s when I really found out what I can be, the commitment I can and want to make, and how honest it makes me feel about who I am. I started saying ‘no’ a lot (even to netball).
But is it really no? Perspective.
I think, in order to answer this, you have to really be able to understand what makes you tick. Where the line of balance sits for you. What a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ looks like depends on your own core values and dreams.
Something that was so innate when I was young, became clouded until I gained the maturity to take ownership of myself. The honesty to see that the missed opportunities were the direct result of my decisions. I recognise that to take pride in myself I need to take conscious control of the decisions I am making and understand their impacts on my life.
I often retrospect about my past accomplishments and failures, taking motivation, inspiration and lessons from them. Doing this has helped me see the only times I have said ‘no’ in my life is when everyone else perceived me to be saying ‘yes’.
I build power and conviction from this. When I am in positions where temptation arises, I think about the times I stopped chasing dreams, gave up on working hard for them and chose the fun option presented to me in the moment. I remember the times I have succeeded, the resolve and determination it took and I remember that I want to make the decisions the younger me would have effortlessly made.
I have no regret for the times I’ve said no to things conflicting with the pursuit of my dreams. For me, I was always saying yes, yes to what I really want. It might sound like a ‘no’ to others, but it’s not. It’s a resolute ‘yes’.
It can be selfish and it can have a cost, but it’s a cost I am happy to pay. I do not feel guilt or see these choices as sacrifices. It’s me whole heartedly putting myself on the line. Finding out what I am capable of without excuses, without crutches, without regrets.
It’s just me choosing to do what sets me on fire.
TBC Athlete Leilani Dawes is the daughter of 2014 CrossFit Games athlete Karen Miller (#maddogmiller). Within 3 years of the sport she has been a part of the 2015 CrossFit Loaded regionals team and in 2016 Leilani and the CrossFit Loaded team realised their dream to compete at the CrossFit games in Carson after qualifying 5th at the pacific regionals.