Guest post by Chris Barber Visit seriousrunning.com for more running inspiration!
I was in the United States Army for over 4 years. I went straight from college into the military. My release from the Army was soon after I re-deployed from a 15 month tour overseas. A soldier’s change in lifestyle after a 15 month tour in a foreign country to the United States is difficult, but coupled with the change to cilivian life can be even more stressful. Answer the question of what you want to do with the rest of your life can be more stressful than a combat engagement! The quick, reactive decisions I made while in the Army were not the same life changing decisions I now faced. I did two things to deal with this new stress of uncertainty, I began running and developed a decision making process.
Running was a great way for me to add structure back into my life. I was used to the regimented lifestyle of the military and found it difficult to operate in the loose environment of the civilian world. I now had to figure out how to juggle my time and commitments. This is something that we all constantly struggle with. I first solved this problem by doing everything, all of the time. I had missed so much in 15 months that I had to make up for that lost time. I then realized I couldn’t do everything and needed to slow down. I had to make decisions about how I spent my time. I think we all need to remember we don’t have to do everything.
I was drinking 3 red bulls a day and sleeping 5 hours a night to keep up with my commitments. Why not, I did it when I was in the Army. After exhausting myself I realized I needed to slow down for my body and mind’s sake. Running was my break peddle. I decided to train for a marathon and began an expert marathon training schedule. Forcing myself to run and stop and take some time to myself helped my mental state tremendously. I enjoyed being able to process the world and my interactions while relieving stress. My favorite part about running was that it gave me a chance to think. To figure out where I was running to.
I didn’t know what job I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, or what graduate school I wanted to attend...either those things or move to Costa Rica. These life decisions started to consume me. I was always worrying about the “what ifs” or weighing the options. I found that I was spending more time stressing about my decisions than analyzing them. I think we all sometimes spend more time worrying than executing.
Speaking with a friend from the military that was going through the same struggles I was, we came up with a way to deal with our decision making stress and dubbed it “Grip and Rip” taken from the movie Zoolander. The essence of the Grip and Rip decision making model is that 90% of your decisions are made correctly by “gut instinct” or are too insignificant to take the time to think about, like choosing which kind of gas to fill up in your car. After gathering all of your information, getting others opinions, for the 10% of decisions left, you are able improve half of them to “correct” decisions. Half of 10% is only 5% improvements in decisions. This 5% improved decision making, you spend 90% of your decsion making time. Your time and your how you live your life is vastly improve it you don’t waste this time. It’s better to Grip and Rip, go with your instincts, and stop worrying about that other 5%.
The point is, don’t worry about where you are going, just go, you’ll make the best decision 95% of the time and be stress free all the time. If you do encounter stress, go for a run!