What makes us DNF in life?

A good friend just shared a blog post by the triathlete Lucy Gossage about why she doesn’t believe in not finishing triathlons (also known as DNF’ing).  This of course is especially poignant after the weekend where I DNF’d a triathlon, while some friends went on to finish despite a huge desire to quit at times.  It got me thinking (dangerous, I know…).  Lucy’s blog post is excellent, so I’d suggest reading the post then coming back here to finish ploughing through my waffle, if you can be arsed.

Right, you’re back.  Or if you’re not, you won’t see this.  No matter.  So where was I?  Ah yes, pondering the phenomenon of ‘Did Not Finish’.  Triathlon or any other sport aside, after reading the article suddenly a light bulb went off as it occurred to me that it isn’t only in sport we can DNF, but in life too.  Okay, so not exactly ground-breaking news, but I’d never thought of it in these terms before.  I know I’m not alone in starting many things in life that never get finished.  There could be a myriad of reasons for this, and probably for 90% of the time it doesn’t really matter that much if a project or plan or idea isn’t seen through to fruition.  That’s not what i’m interested in though, what I’m wondering about is why do we not finish some of the things that are really important to us?  Catastrophe aside, why do we give up on the things that really matter to us?

Speaking for myself, I’ve done a lot in life that I’m proud of.  There are many things I’ve set my heart on, put the work into, and succeeded at.  For example, I’ve got an undergrad degree, a Masters, and i’m currently in the process of working towards another Masters degree.  I put in a lot of work and learned to fly aeroplanes and even how to do Swedish Massage (not whilst flying though.  Now THAT would be a good skill….).  Now undoubtedly i’ve been privileged in many ways (I grew up in a stable family, didn’t want for anything really, and certainly luck has played its part) so I know that i’ve been afforded opportunities not everyone has.  I guess that it is what it is, I can’t change that but know that i’m also eternally thankful for this.  However, I still have put the work in when needed to achieve what has been really important to me.

So why is it that sometimes it’s really easy to DNF on other activities/events/desires that are also really important to us?  I’m a  renowned ‘starter’ and not always a renowned finisher; I get bored easily and move on to the next thing.  A lot of the time that doesn’t bother me; there’s so much to do in life that we can’t do it all, and I’ve often thought I’d rather be a jack of all trades than a master of anything.  But time & time again I come back to the ONE thing that i’ve always wanted that’s been really important to me, but i’ve yet to succeed at: losing weight.  I’ve probably wanted that more than anything else, yet it’s the one thing I’ve not done.  Yet.  This might seem factitious, but I’m genuinely interested in people’s thoughts on this.  Losing weight is not easy, and likely to be a long slog, and tough and and and….except i’ve succeeded in achieving many other things that were also hard and a slog and all the rest.  So what’s the difference?  Why can I achieve some difficult tasks and not others?

One reason that strikes me is that maybe I’m afraid to change.  I remember many years ago spending a week with someone I met travelling.  This woman was of a similar age to me, and had previously been very overweight and unhealthy, but the woman I met had turned it around and was healthy and slim.  It took her a long time to get there, but the one thing that stopped her for so long that she was afraid everything would change.  My response was “say what?”.  Why would you be afraid that it would change?  My fear is that nothing will change.  It’s an interesting dilemma.  It feels like this is the one thing that’s missing from my life, so I’m not sure why I’d in effect be sabotaging myself by remaining the same, and not achieving this goal?  Can I also say that my goal in losing weight is not to make me happy – i’m already happy, so that’s not why i’m not succeeding. I’m not even sure if any of this makes sense to read; it makes sense in my head though, ha!

To anyone reading this (all 4 of you!), please let me know your thoughts, I’m genuinely interested.  Sometimes you get so stuck in your own head, it helps for people to just state the obvious!

Thanks in advance! 🙂


12 thoughts on “What makes us DNF in life?

  1. Pingback: Progress, not perfection | lee the pea

  2. Ah Lee. You do have a way with words. I’m very much in the same camp, scared that nothing will change. But, change is inevitable. The catalyst for change is sometimes so subtle that we miss it, and sometimes it’s a bloody great big klaxon that we just can’t ignore. Keep on keeping on. X

  3. I found Lucy Gossage’s article really struck a chord for me. When I DNF’d Austria way back in 2015 at the time it was for all the right reasons at that point in time. With hindsight it was one of the dumbest decisions I’ve made in life (and I’ve made a few) and I haven’t succeeded in a single thing since then. Up until that point I’d never “failed” at anything – been very bad at things yes, but never actually failed. Since then I give up far more easily because I seemed to realise the world wouldn’t end as a result. Although this may seem like a good thing it’s actually given me permission to CBA about pretty much everything because it’s easier. I guess this doesn’t help you much – sorry! – but I guess I’m saying I totally get where you’re coming from and often read your blogs and they feel like I could have written them!! Like you I’ve worked very hard to achieve difficult things in life but can’t do the weight thing……….yet……….despite being around 6 stone overweight currently…………

    • It does help, because it’s good to know other people feel the same way!! The having permission to not be arsed is something I totally relate to. It’s easier just to continue without changing sometimes because nothing ostensibly bad comes of it. Yet it’s not what I want either. If I figure it out I’ll let you know!! X

  4. Sometimes I don’t think it needs a trigger or waiting for one is not the most efficient way of tackling the problem. But I need to go away and think about this and come back to you.

  5. When I speak to folk who have given up smoking I ask them if they consider themselves an ex-smoker or a non-smoker. It makes a difference, because a non-smoker doesn’t crave a cigarette, they couldn’t even contemplate having a fag. Their baseline is different – and I experienced that myself when I gave up and then watched Carol as she did as well.
    For me, food is a bit similar. For a few years I have observed the behaviour of slim people to work out how they were different to me (I used to be a size 18, and have pretty much dropped a dress size a decade over the years!). I remember years back having fish and chips with two slim people and they both left their meal before it was finished. I was amazed. I couldn’t contemplate ever doing that! But it stuck with me, and I started to realise I wanted to be like that – to stop when I’d had enough. Even now I’m still trying to do this and I’m aware that for me food is pleasure rather than fuel and that is a central challenge for me.
    Over the years, though, I have found myself feeling more like a slim person – I’m not there yet (not in my head, I mean) – and my tastes are now beginning to change.
    Random musings … 🤓

    • Thanks for this, that’s really interesting. Good analogy with smoking; in my head I’d be in the ex-smoker camp equivalent for weight issues, and that does have a different mindset. In reality, I’ve smoked cigarettes, but not many and I’m absolutely a non-smoker. I’d not considered food (or the foods I binge eat) in this way before! Food for thought, ha! Thanks x

  6. My motivation to change my lifestyle from sedentary jet set for work around the world and 4 stone over weight was the loss of my dad.
    He died 2 weeks before his 60th birthday. With heart disease, diabetes and dodgy lungs running through the family bloodlines I knew I had a bad deck of health gene cards to play with. So time to change and try and beat the odds I’d been dealt
    First running in the dark alone, then cycling, swimming, joined a gym which lead onto triathlon and back to netball for a team sport which I hadn’t done for 25 years.
    Yes it takes time and effort but you need to want to change and fear more of What if you don’t change.
    In contrast my sister who had same childhood and like you happy and comfortable with life has also struggled in weight, she has four kids and a loving husband and very happy with life but notbyet had that ‘wake up’ / ‘desire’ / ‘need’ to make the big change – that trigger is a very personal need.
    Sorry not an answer but when you get that drive or trigger you will go with it and changes will come. Baby steps and keep enjoying life to the best you can in the mean time.

    • Thanks for sharing love, and sorry to hear about your Dad. Yeah there is maybe some trigger I’m unconsciously waiting for. That said, my Mum died at 54 and that was never a trigger as such, I’m not sure why! Well, it did trigger the thoughts of ‘life is short so make the most of it’ and I’ve certainly done that.

      It’s interesting to hear other people’s stories. Also I can’t imagine you 4 stone heavier?! X

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