How to Maintain Strong Habits in Ever-Changing Circumstances 

 April 15, 2021

We’ve all been there…

“Finally, I have a routine and set of habits that really fit my lifestyle and push me towards my vision and goals. I really feel like I’m making progress.”

Then… *insert one of the following*

  • Illness/Injury/Prolonged soreness
  • A meeting goes long, throwing off your routine
  • Motivation tanks
  • Something in the house or car breaks

There are many examples, I’m sure you can think of one or two, when circumstances outside of our control mess up all of the momentum we’ve gained toward our goals.

I’ve experienced this many times, mostly revolving around getting sick or being injured. 

As a Junior in college, I had just transferred to a new school in Southern California. I had a ton of momentum coming into the fall exhibition season after spending an entire summer in Florida at an Elite Pitcher’s Academy.

Then, in my second intra-squad outing (I was a pitcher), I started to feel an intense pain in my left (throwing) shoulder. 

I figured, “maybe I just didn’t warm up enough” or “maybe I shouldn’t have thrown more than 10 pitches in the bullpen”. This nagging, unknown injury lasted the entire fall and spring season. When I finally got an MRI done, it showed I would need surgery. 

Though I never fully gained my arm strength back, and my passion for playing baseball slowly diminished, I learned so many valuable lessons about how to maintain excellence despite uncertain circumstances. 

Here are a few: 

  • You don’t always control the situation, but you do control how you respond.

I had a choice, after that outing in early October, to either throw in the towel or keep fighting to get my arm health back. 

It wasn’t easy. Many days, instead of being out on the practice field with my teammates I was stuck in the training room doing all kinds of different things, of which none solved the problem. I grew frustrated and even considered quitting on many occasions. 

But I decided to stick to it. My parents never taught me to be a quitter. 

Life’s twists and turns are often unpredictable. Therefore, it takes grit and a strong resolve to power through difficult situations to stay on pace for your goals. 

  • It’s not always about you. Find a way to serve. 

Going into my senior season, after having surgery the prior summer, I felt like I’d be in a strong position to gain a spot in the rotation. Despite some great outings in the fall, this did not happen.

I could have decided to pout and grow resentful toward my teammates and coaching staff, and to be honest, I did feel that way at times. There’s nothing more difficult as an athlete than feeling like you have the ability to do something without an opportunity to prove it.

However, after I got over myself, I decided to look for ways to help my team, even if it meant I wasn’t on the field. 

I ended up being in charge of relaying the pitch call to our catcher from the dugout for each pitch during the game. This was a blast. Looking back, I’m thankful I was able to do that job. 

In our pride, it can often feel like we are just at the center of our own ongoing movie. This can be a dangerous place to be because, when things don’t go as we’d hoped, we can become resentful, spiteful, and arrogant.

If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure what the outcome will be, or you feel you deserve better than what you’re getting, look for opportunities to serve those around you. You won’t regret it.

  • You can only go as far as the people you’ve placed around you.

I strongly considered quitting baseball after having surgery in the summer of 2017. I had lost my passion and love for the game, I hated the rehab process, and I figured staying on the team would just be a waste of time.

Towards the end of the summer, I had a conversation with a trusted friend who advised me by saying, “sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, in order to do the things you want to do.” 

I love that statement. 

At the time, I heard this friend, and I appreciated his comments and encouragement. However, what that would really mean to me didn’t settle in until later on in the spring of 2018. 

For those who know me, you know that my faith is the cornerstone of my life. In the spring of 2018, during our second week of the season, I had a teammate who got into some major trouble with our coach and the University. 

Through that situation, I, along with another teammate, had the opportunity to lead this teammate into a relationship with Jesus. Wow.

If I would have trusted my emotions and quit baseball prior to my senior year, this opportunity may have never come. But, “sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, in order to do the things you want to do.” 

Over the course of the spring of 2018, that phrase really came to life in so many ways. I realized my journey in baseball over the span of 18 years had led me to this teammate and the opportunity for his salvation, while also leading me to my beautiful wife, Michel. 

If you want to stay on course during difficult times and uncertain circumstances, surround yourself with people who will help you along the way.