There’s nothing wrong with the “hard work and sacrifice” narrative. But that’s not my story. And it’s not the philosophy that has enabled me to balance growing my career in advertising while also bike racing at a national level.
I’d like to say, “I just do what’s fun.”
But that would lock me into one approach. The “do what’s fun” perspective, like many Life Mantras, loses its power over time. It’s the feeling a philosophy evokes that we’re really after, and so I believe we should all be flexible in how we define and connect with the “whys” behind the things we do. Research tells us a growth mindset is positive and breeds successful people, so let’s all be fluid and quick to come up with new life and “cycling life” perspectives when our old approaches wear out.
And so what’s my perspective for today on how and why I am able to balance career and cycling (which are two aspects of many that I deem important in life)?
I am here because I pay attention to my interests, establish habits, and set intentions.
In my career “on paper”, this approach brought me from Intern, to Associate Project Manager, to Digital Project Manager at a top full-service advertising agency.
But what actually matters to me is that I constantly set my intention to enjoy collaborating with talented colleagues. I pay attention to what interests me throughout the process of creating or improving digital advertising work. And I’m in the habit of noticing the positive aspects of our ad agency culture and the opportunities that exist.
To me, it feels like I am in the “right place” when I am at the office! I want to go to work it the morning, and this is partly because I know I can make the most of my day if I am intentional about my mindset! Focus on what I like. Find interest in meeting room energy as we make progress on projects. Keep the habit of following my priority-arranged To-Do list.
In cycling “on paper”, this approach got me to try racing, race a bunch and become part of Orion Women’s Cycling, move up to Category 2, and earn a few top 30 finishes at national-level races.
But what’s meaningful to me is that I set thousands of small intentions along the way that brought me joy and satisfaction. I get to appreciate the roads and greater world around me, continuously learn team tactics and how to execute on them, meet fellow cyclists of all ages and backgrounds, develop unique friendships with teammates and training buddies, enjoy the feeling of building fitness and skill, and visit parts of the country I never would venture to otherwise.
To me, it feels like purpose and passion to express the athlete within via cycling. And I’m so interested in continuing this lifestyle! So it has been natural to make training a daily habit: short rides, long rides, intervals, sprints, indoor trainer rides, cross-training with other sports and activities. Usually I train right after work, but lately I’ve been trying more morning workouts. On weekends, I prefer to ride right after coffee and a good breakfast.
I apply the above mindset to balancing career and cycling. I have good days and bad days, but for now, this works for me. And so what? Am I “successful”? Taking a giant step back to the human challenge of balancing interests and responsibilities across all topics, I think that observing and defining our own mindsets is one of the quickest ways to notice our own success and enjoy life more. It’s about the power of realizing and re-realizing how and WHY we structure our lives the way we do. Realizing why evokes feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. And it’s so exciting that mindset can be flexible! Maybe one week it is the “hard work and sacrifice” perspective that gets you through. Followed by, “I am empowered, calm, and clear-headed.” And later, it’s “I just do what’s fun” for a while. I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to describe a mindset for success in balancing career and cycling. What’s your approach?
Written by Carly Jackson, Orion Racing
Photo Credit: Todd Fawcett
For other cyclists working on their own balance:
- If someone newly enthusiastic about the sport of cycling asked, I would advise them to complicate with caution. Enjoy and savor–don’t get a power meter right away, only hire a coach if you’re ready for a lot of structured riding, and take your time in appreciating what it is about the sport that’s thrilling to you individually. Don’t feel like you need to do road, MTB, CX, gravel, and fat biking all right away! Just ride often, ride happy, and be open to continuing to learn and do more over time.
- For those of you reading this that have enjoyed balancing “cycling life” and career for many years… I respect you lots, and I thank you for keeping our sport a thing! It has been great for me. So that we can keep it strong for future generations, I’d like to remind all you amazing people out there to remember your “whys” often, refresh your mindsets and perspectives freely, and let’s all just keep having FUN with it.
- And finally, huge shout out all the racers far better and more accomplished than me, regardless of how long you’ve been at this! Thank you for pushing the sport, being an inspiration, and adopting whatever mindsets you’ve had to in order to do so. For athletes that have what it takes to merge career and cycling into one—mad respect! I hope to continue seeing positive momentum in our sport as cycling grows and evolves for the better.