This week I sat down with Kare Adenegan, a 2-time Paralympian (Bronze and Silver medalist), and discussed how she got into para-athletics & how she balances this with a university degree. This most definitely wasn’t a conversation to miss as valuable advice was provided throughout on how to be disciplined and how to find your identity amongst other things. Whether or not you are an athlete yourself, you’ll definitely derive value from our conversation and in this week’s newsletter, I want to explore some points raised in our conversation which I think are worth digging deeper into.
How to stay disciplined
As you can imagine, it is not easy to juggle being a full-time university student at an institution like the University of Warwick whilst also competing in high-level para-athletics. When Kare spoke about how she managed to balance these two, she stressed the importance of discipline. This point really resonated with me because being disciplined has been integral to helping me accomplish the things I have so far. But before I talk about my experience with discipline, it is best I define it.
Discipline is the ability to train yourself to carry out habitual actions that lead to your desired outcome.
I had to be disciplined to launch this podcast & newsletter whilst researching for my university dissertation. On top of that, solely organising a Christmas dinner event for 100+ individuals, speaking at different events whilst trying to keep some sort of social life was a significant challenge. However, I managed to achieve all of this by remaining disciplined.
Like anything in life, discipline is something that can be developed over time with practice. Here are some of the key ways you can work on your discipline.
By planning every day like Kare
Write out what you plan to achieve in the day and tick it off when you’ve accomplished it
We’re at the start of the year and now is a key time in setting the tone for the rest of your year. Plan what you want to achieve in the year as a macro goal and break this down into what you want to achieve every month, week and year. Here are some resources I personally use to help with planning:
- 2021/2022 Compass planner (It’s not too late!)
- Notion (free for students & educators)
- Google Calendar (everyday essential)
This is why I stay old school & prefer using pen and paper. I even went to the lengths to produce my own notebook and pen, so I could plan freely and remain motivated.
Other resources you could use:
- Planners - 7 habits of highly effective people planner
- Diaries - a great way to organize tasks day by day, both short and long term
Deadlines - how to set and meet them
Once you have planned your goals and plans for the day, week, month, and year, it’s important to set deadlines for these things. This ensures that you have a clear timeline to work with in order to accomplish the goal and you don’t procrastinate. Google Calendar is a great tool for this because you can visualize all your deadlines in the calendar. Something Kare mentioned that I think is also very helpful, is setting artificial deadlines i.e self-imposed deadlines before the assignment or task is really due. This helps you avoid last-minute stress (we’ve all been there) and gives you more time to perfect the task at hand.
How to find your why
In our conversation, Kare identified her “why” as hoping to have a positive impact on aspiring young para-athletes, especially those from an ethnic minority background. It’s incredibly valuable to identify your why as this informs everything else you do. If you’re struggling to find your “why”, here are some things to consider:
What motivates you?
Ask yourself what makes you wake up in the morning and keeps you up late at night? I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve had to force myself to sleep because I was too excited working and didn’t realise it was nearly morning. You need this excitement.
Also ask yourself, if money wasn’t a problem i.e. you could buy whatever you wanted in the world. What would you do for a living? The answer may help lead you to your “why”.
A consistent theme that underpins everything you do
Take a moment to reflect and try to work out if there is a consistent theme that underpins everything you do - your hobbies, the societies you are a part of. If there is, this should make it easy to identify your why. If there is no consistent theme, interrogate the motivation behind the things you do and see where the similarities lie.
What's the greater purpose?
It may not come to you straight away but it’s worth pondering what the greater purpose behind what you’re doing is. This could be anything from doing an activity simply to enjoy it and to feel good, to a desire to change the lives of others for the better. Once you find this greater purpose you’ve almost found your why.
Value as an individual (I'm more than my career!)
I’m sure you know by now that here at the valuable podcast we’re all about being valuable and sharing that value with others. However, Kare touched on a very important point in our conversation when she stressed the importance of finding value in your identity outside of your occupation. I think that it is important to remember that we are more than just students, athletes, or whatever else our main occupation may be. For Kare, a fellow Christian, it is helpful to remember that before anything else she is a child of God and that will never change, whether she wins a Gold medal in the Paralympics or comes last in a race. Once you detach your self-worth and personal value from your occupation you will feel far more at peace.
Featuring Kare Adenegan
Victor: What are your favourite resources that are useful to learn about black history?
Kare: “I highly recommend the book ‘Natives’ by Akala which discusses Black British social and political history. The TV series ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’, narrated by David Olusoga, is another interesting introduction to the topic and explores the history of Black people in Britain as early as Roman times. The recent drama series ‘Small Axe’, directed by Steve McQueen, based on true events also celebrates Black history beautifully.”
Victor: Do you have a diet or meal plan at all?
Kare: “I don’t follow a strict diet but generally try to eat high protein meals because that supports my recovery between training sessions. Although it seems trendy these days to cut carbohydrates, I ensure that I eat some form of carbohydrates in every meal so that I have enough energy to train.”
Victor: What is your favourite bible scripture?
Kare: “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Psalm 3:3 ESV
Listen to the full episode on a platform of your choice: https://linktr.ee/valuablepodcast