The Transition Game: Week 5

Welcome back!

Since I last wrote I have had another facilitator meeting, finished “Attitude Determines your Altitude” in my workbook and began some of the homework that comes with the lesson. I have been procrastinating less but still have a long way to go, I’m working out more consistently and have worked my gratitude practice into my warm-ups which puts me in an even better headspace than training alone already did. Using my scheduler remains to be a huge challenge, I always have a plan in my mind and I need to just prioritize putting it down on paper when I first sit down to start my workday. I know it will benefit me and I have to remind myself of that each morning to get it done.

As always, this most recent lesson has been an opportunity to look myself in the mirror, analyze my past, and help shape my future. In my workbook, the first thing that struck me was I was asked to indicate whether my thoughts were positive or negative when it came to school, my sport, myself, and home life. It was hard to have to circle negative on each, but a needed wake-up call. Especially once realizing that the results I am getting or have gotten in those areas are not the results I want. Immediately I flashback to my hockey career and remember the years I had the most success, I would have circled positive for all but school (I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I would circle positive for school). I was very fortunate to have some great coaches when I first entered the elite levels of hockey, one coach made it mandatory for us to send him positive self-talk emails on game days, if you didn’t, you did not play. Many guys thought this was just plain stupid, they refused and were punished, or they didn’t commit and never saw the full benefits. With a nudge from my parents backed by the fact that the coach had a very successful professional hockey career himself, I committed to it. The impact it had on my on-ice performance and overall confidence blew my 13-year-old mind.

I tried to find the old emails but had no luck. From what I remember they went something like this:

“I am a physically dominant shut down defenseman, I am a solid skater and excellent positional player. I am a leader and will not allow my teammates to be intimated or taken advantage of.” We then would set goals for that specific game, mine were usually something like this. “I will have 20 hits with impact, 5 hard shots on net with potential for tips or rebounds, 5 blocked shots, and will be a +2 with 1 assist”. I was amazed to see that when I consistently did this, I not only truly began to believe it, but I reached those goals more times than not and it took me from barely making the team to being a sought after defenseman every year that routinely wore a letter on my jersey.

Somewhere along the line, I forgot about all of this, and by the time I achieved my dream of earning a hockey scholarship I had allowed it to be completely washed away thanks to my ego. I did not have the success in college I had dreamt of for the previous 8 years and thanks to my hindsight 20-20 vision I realize that was largely due to an unchecked negative shift in my attitude.

For my homework, I have to journal my daily changes in attitude for 1 week. Thus far I have gone from “I’m too tired to train today, I don’t have time” to “I will make time, working out will increase my overall energy and help improve my sleep”. Today I added “chores are stupid, annoying, never-ending, I have better things to do” and changed it to “Put on some music, have some fun with it, get it done and reduce my overall stress in the process”.

Thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with this blog, I’m truly enjoying writing it and It’s helping me more than you know!

Write you next week,

Esty

The Transition Game – Week 4

Welcome back!

Good news, since last week I have completed both the book and online lessons for Habits, got back on the workout train, have been much more productive, and have made progress in changing my bad habit of procrastinating tasks I dislike. My facilitator made it very clear to only focus on one habit at a time and I felt changing this one first would have the greatest impact on how I feel day to day. My gratitude practice is still really lacking and I need many reminders to do it daily, now that I am back to working out I have put a notepad and pen on my dumbbell rack and will incorporate my gratitude practice into my warmup ritual. Using my scheduler is another big challenge for me that I have yet to consistently integrate into my daily and weekly routines. I love having a plan, I hate having things planned down to the minute and that is my character strength score of 1 – which means I am very flexible as opposed to traditional. Often, I find myself completely disregarding everything I planned on paper which in turn causes me to think “well why the hell am I wasting time on this, I got way more done when I just winged it”. That is NOT a growth mindset and I will continue to work at using my scheduler consistently AND STICKING TO THE PLAN.

The Habits section of the Success Strategies program has been a great challenge but also my biggest opportunity for growth yet. I have realized how many poor habits I have which makes it difficult for me to not beat myself up. I have to constantly fight my utter disappointment in myself with each bad habit I recognize in my homework as well as when they pop up throughout my days. This is going to take years of hard work and dedication to break all these bad habits and replace them with good ones. I am very familiar with years of hard work and dedication however; I am not so used to it being on the mental side of things. Going back to the first blog post I wrote I talked about how during my Hockey career “I was the athlete equivalent of a Formula 1 racecar being driven by a gorilla”. This has rung true yet again, after writing down all of my habits both good and bad, all the good ones were physical (eating healthy, drinking lots of water, staying in great shape, staying very active even when working out is a challenge) and the bad ones were mental (stressful thinking, negative self-talk and self-doubt, mistrust of people, skepticism of all things society, procrastinating tasks I dislike or think are stupid, pushing my feelings down, putting up emotional walls).

I truly cannot wait to rid myself of the “gorilla” but I have to stay patient, focused, and increase my dedication to this work. Through the work that I have done so far here is what I’m noticing (on days I stay on top of it):

  • Decreased symptoms and feelings of depression
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased motivation
  • Better sleep (less dependant on cannabis)
  • Less autopilot and more present in the moment
  • Exhausted… but from the work, workouts, and mindfulness not for seemingly no reason
  • I’m starting to get excited about doing things again (rollerblading, walking, outdoor hangouts)
  • Looking for new hobbies instead of just letting myself rot, though this has been hard due to covid, at least I want to find something, I’m interested in trying Muay Thai and can’t wait for things to open up and to get vaccinated so I can dive in.

There is much work to be done, but for the first time in a while, that doesn’t bother me or stress me out.

Thanks for checking in, write you next week!

Esty

The Transition Game – Week 3

Welcome back!

So what’s new? Well since I last wrote I completed the online portion of “Defining your Role”, had another meeting with my facilitator, and completely went off the rails with all my new self-care habits.

The online portion was great, it helped me solidify the lessons I learned in the book and allowed me to add more to my strengths and weaknesses as a family member. An area that I have struggled to define my role and find my identity within. The facilitator meeting was a highlight as always, these meetings bring so much clarity, direction, and energy. I’m always ready to run through a wall by the time I complete my course work and have that discussion. It has kept me far more accountable than anything else I have ever tried.

Why did I completely go off the rails with my self-care? I thought about omitting this, but the whole point is that I’m real with what I experience and how I feel. We had to say goodbye to a dear family member, Trooper. Those of you that are close with me know all about Troops and what he meant to our family and those that know me at all know I’m a crazy dog person. Those of you who were lucky enough to know Troops, well you know why his name was Trooper. From being dumped in someone’s back yard with a massive gash across his face and eye, multiple eye surgeries, knee surgeries, and cancer. Troops went through a lot in his 13 years, and man did he ever live up to his name.

The loss rocked me, you’re never ready for that kind of thing, but I really wasn’t ready. I don’t know if it’s just that I have been very lucky and not suffered much loss in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, Trooper was the closest thing I ever had to a brother. Maybe I am just a crazy dog person, whatever it is dogs are the key to my heart, whether it’s filling it or breaking it. All this made me realize I hate the word pet, I don’t know about you but “pet” sells every relationship I have ever had with a dog so incredibly short. In my crazy dog person opinion, there is only one word worthy of the unconditional love and joy we get from dogs… FAMILY. So needless to say I have been a bit of a mess. It has been cry, then work, then eat, then cry and repeat, nothing else. Should I have kept working out? Yep! Should I have continued to practice gratitude? YEP!! Should I have pushed extra hard to use my scheduler? For sure! I did none of it, not even one of them one time. From the time I got the news that he was starting to go until a week after he was gone, I didn’t even try to do any of these things. All I wanted to do, all I still want to do is sit, process, cry, and remember. I let it cripple me, and honestly, it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized the best way I can honour him is to be a trooper myself.

I’m ready to get back to my new routines and I’ll remember this the next time life squeezes a lemon in my eyes. During those hard times is when I need to put in an extra effort to stick to my workouts, gratitude, and scheduling. Have I been told that before? Yes, of course! My facilitator even gave me plenty of reminders but I have a bad habit of learning things the hard way which is another item on my long self-improvement list. Funny enough, my next lesson is “Habits – Why Do You Do What You Do” which I am quite enthusiastic about as I am such a creature of habit. Whether they are healthy or unhealthy, I’m notorious for my habits and looking forward to finding out why and better yet finding out how to break those unhealthy ones!

Write you next week! Till’ then, keep on being a Trooper!

Esty

The Transition Game – Week 2

Welcome back!

Since last Thursday I have received my PES (Profile Evaluation System) results, had my kickoff meeting with my facilitator, and completed lesson 1 in my workbook. Let’s start with my PES results, this is the most accurate and insightful personality evaluation I have ever done. Some of the results caught me off guard but after reading the explanations and having a discussion with my facilitator things started to make sense. Going through the results with my facilitator was awesome, it helped me see where these things pop up in my life and what they can cause me. We highlighted a few scores that I need to be mindful of which helped me connect the dots to some of my past experiences. I was very nervous before we started but as soon as we started discussing it, I found myself having fun, laughing and telling stories. My facilitator got to know and understand me on a much deeper level while I gained a clearer picture of who I truly am.

The scores that surprised me at first were in dominance and competitiveness. On a 1-9 scale I scored a 9 assertive in dominance (the opposite end of the spectrum is 1 cooperative), and 8 winning oriented competitiveness (the opposite end of the spectrum is 1 team oriented). These threw me off as I always thought of myself as a team-first guy who was very cooperative. After digging into it, I realized that what was going on in my head was this: “Hockey is a team game, I want to win, so we need to play as a team”. I’m not team oriented, I’m winning oriented, but I need the team to achieve the win. Here is where my 9 assertive dominance score kicks in “if you aren’t being a team player, you don’t care about winning, so f*** you why are you even here?” which explains all of the conflicts I had with my teammates. I only see one way to get the win and anyone who isn’t thinking the same way pisses me off. Another example of these scores shining through in my career is my “practice how you play” mentality. I believed this with my entire being, and I was a very physical player. For me, that meant never letting a teammate off the hook in practice because I would never let an opponent off the hook in a game. If I had a chance to throw a hit, I was throwing it, as hard as I could. That was my job, that’s what I needed to do so we could win. More hits in practice, for me, meant more hits in games. Yes, this often made it difficult to make friends but I didn’t care, I wasn’t there to make friends, I was there to win. My friends were typically guys who thought the same way as me, we’d laugh about running each other in practice, we loved the battle and to us, it was just iron sharpening iron. To all my former teammates that hated me or just hated when I ran them in practice, sorry man, I just wanted us to win.

Lesson 1 Defining your Role was interesting and a bit frustrating for me. it exposed some insecurities and honestly really made it clear that I don’t have a solid identity when it comes to my family or work life. I was asked to list my strengths and weaknesses as an athlete, student/employee, and family member. It is further broken down into the categories leadership, mental strength, communication, and habits. I rattled off my answers as an athlete with no problems. As a student/employee, it was a bit of a challenge. As a family member, I was completely stumped and I’m still trying to put some answers down. Makes sense why I feel so lost since I hung up the skates, at least now I know I need to find my identity and focus on defining those roles for myself and it will make a huge difference in how I feel day to day. I’m really looking forward to my next facilitator meeting and finding even more clarity. The workbook helped me to draw some parallels between how I felt in certain roles on certain teams and how I feel in certain roles in my life today which is what clued me in. The moral of the story, define your roles! ALL OF THEM, or you’re going to have a bad time. If someone gives you a role, have a deep and meaningful conversation about it. Maybe you are a little nervous to have that kind of conversation with that specific person, but trust me just do it. What you’ll feel if you don’t is far worse than the anxiousness before the conversation.

Thanks for the support!

Write you next week,

Esty

The Transition Game – Week 1

Welcome back and thanks for being here!

So what’s new since last week? Well, I just went through the Profile Evaluation System which essentially builds a psychological profile that will help me and my facilitator identify my strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. This is the first step in the Success Strategies Program.

How’d it go? Well, my incredible lack of basic math skills shone through in the beginning and got me sweating. I didn’t realize the kind of questions I’d be asked in the various sections and oh man it was embarrassing even though I was alone in my office. I ran out of time on the first few sections (even with leaving many of the math questions blank) so that made me even more anxious. Once I made it through to the vocabulary and more personal behaviour-related questions I relaxed and it was a breeze. I’m excited to see my results and I will share them with you once I have them. Although I think of myself as someone who is very self-aware I’m hoping it brings some new things to light that will help me shift my perspective.

My Success Strategies workbook has arrived so next week I’ll detail how the first lesson and facilitator meeting go! I’m excited to have some tough conversations and take a hard look in the mirror. In the meantime, I have still been trying to solidify a new workout routine, 30-45 minutes of dumbbell work weekday mornings as soon as my alarm goes off at 6 am followed by shoulder rehab until 7 am. I’m now consistently getting that done 4 out of 5 days and striving for 5 high-intensity efficient lifts per week. I am eating way healthier and more consistently, I signed up for Hello Fresh to help which has turned out to be a great investment. Those two things combined have made a huge difference in my overall mood. However, I have had days where I didn’t stick to these routines and paid the price in terms of mood and energy. My biggest struggle of late is focus and motivation. I have struggled to use my scheduler and notebook effectively, I seem to spend way too much time planning only to not stick to the plan or I forget about the planning entirely and spend a day shooting from the hip. Oddly enough I have been getting way more done when “shooting from the hip” for some reason those days I can focus on individual tasks better. I’m not giving up on it though, I think these are just growing pains.

I am still trying to practice gratitude as well but have been very inconsistent. My new plan is to work it into some positive self-talk during my morning lifts. I will put a sticky note on my weight rack as a reminder. This should help with the self-doubt and my tendency to disassociate and live in a fantasy world in my head. Focusing on the great life I have instead of daydreaming about a different one is my goal with the gratitude practice.

Thanks for checking in, write you next week!

Esty

The Transition Game – Week 0

The Transition Game

Week 0

Estevan Hale

Welcome to The Transition Game blog series! Every week I will make an entry to summarize and reflect on my experience as I go through the I Got Mind Success Strategies Program. I will do my best to be entirely open and honest about the experience and how it affects me. I hope through reading this series you will gain a better understanding of what I Got Mind does and learn some things that you can apply to your own life. What I really want is for this to inspire you to be open and vulnerable about your own experiences.

So, why am I doing this? Well, I have plenty of answers to that question but the simplest way to put it is I feel like shit! Now, I’m not here to vent or complain, I’m here to learn, grow, and feel the way I want to feel. Let me give you a bit more background on who I am and what led me to be writing this blog today. I’m a Hockey guy, I just finished playing five years of college Hockey. Always known for my work ethic, dedication to the weight room, and being an absolute grinder. My almost non-existent point totals throughout my career will back that up.

Hockey and the weight room have been my two main outlets almost my entire life. If I had a bad day, you’d most likely find me in the weight room or on the ice trying to hit every single person who touched the puck. This kept me going and feeling great for many years but once I got to the college level, things started to change for me. I found myself struggling with confidence on the ice, which meant I got to play less, which meant I spent even more time in the weight room. Of course, I always found time for a heavy bench press or squat day, but stretching and mobility… managed to mostly avoid being placed in my daily schedule. I started to struggle with injuries due to the way I played and the way I was “taking care” of myself. I struggled with injuries and confidence my entire five-year college career.

My two outlets began to slowly fade and it took a toll on my mental health. The first time I saw a counsellor was in my second year of college Hockey. Things were bothering me in my personal life at the time on top of my athletic struggles. It was a good first step, but it didn’t last long, and I didn’t commit to it fully, so I saw few positive results.

These same things plagued me for the next three years, but at the time I didn’t realize, I just kept doing what I had always done because it got me where I was.

Then Covid-19 arrived, cutting my final season short, cancelling my last Athletic Banquet (The best night of the year every year as a student-athlete), and of course my grad. I remember watching my virtual grad ceremony and seeing my name scroll across the screen, I’m not sure what it was, but I just broke down. I couldn’t believe that’s how my five-year journey ended, all the work, injuries, and pressure for what? I felt like a loser, I felt like I put myself through so much for nothing.

Then I was faced with a question I had no clue how to answer… “now what?”. I didn’t want to start my work career… all I ever really wanted was to be a professional athlete. I needed reconstructive shoulder surgery from countless dislocations and my groin was hanging on by a thread. I still lacked confidence and I had grown quite bitter when it came to Hockey. So, I hung up the skates but I still didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do.

I floated around, worked part-time hours consulting for some small businesses and got my shoulder surgery. The combination of surgery and Covid ended up being quite hard on me, but it was a good time to do it as I didn’t miss out on anything. However, going from an extremely active and social student-athlete to being trapped in a small condo in a sling affected me in ways I never imagined. I started to spiral, more and more negative thoughts every day, no purpose, no socialization, no motivation. I just let myself rot, I felt stuck, and I felt like “what the hell is the point”. My attitude and mental state started to affect the people closest to me. It caused friction, fights, and further isolation. I continued to spiral. I finally recognized that this was more than just “a Covid year” and that I needed some help. I found a counselling service and started that process again, this time determined to really commit and see the benefits, and pull myself out of this black hole I was letting myself be sucked into. I half-committed and saw positive results, but they didn’t last long.

I continued to spiral, more negative thoughts invading my mind. I dreaded hearing the alarm go off in the morning, I never wanted to leave my bed. I didn’t want to deal with life, it started to feel like a burden I didn’t ask for. Everyday tasks became harder and harder and I recognized myself in the mirror less and less. Every once and a while I’d have a day where I felt motivated to make some change and pick up some healthy habits, from journaling to a new workout routine. But, I could never seem to make any of it stick, which isn’t like me… especially when it comes to working out.

Finally, one day on my way home from work I broke down again, this time I called my Mom. I vented to her, I told her how hopeless and lost I felt, how stuck I felt. She was unreal, Mom of the year, it was a conversation I don’t think I’ll ever forget. After I finished venting and she calmed me down, she told me about some other family members who have struggled with depression. I had no idea that those family members had struggled, but it gave me some hope. I thought okay if they can get through something like that, I can get through this. Unfortunately, that thought was followed with little and inconsistent action.

For a few more months I stayed that way, some good days, mostly not so good days. I had a really hard time taking care of myself physically, not eating, not working out, I couldn’t sleep without cannabis, all of which made me feel even worse mentally. Most days the only thing that got me out of bed was my puppy needing to go for a walk. I honestly don’t know where I’d be mentally without the little guy. I became very self-destructive which I had struggled with in years prior, but never to this extent.

I am incredibly fortunate to have the support system I have. Someone finally just called me out because it got to the point that I was bringing other people down with me. People I deeply care for. Sadly, that’s what it took for me to ACTUALLY do something about the way I have been feeling.

I called my doctor and officially was diagnosed with depression, checked off every single box. This was actually a huge relief. I finally had an actual explanation of why I felt so stuck, why I kept feeling the “call to the void”, why I couldn’t commit and pull myself back up. Now I just had to decide exactly what I was going to do about it.

The IGM Success Strategies program was the first thing that came to my mind. I need structure to keep me accountable when I am in this state, something more than just a Zoom call with a counsellor. I knew it would be at least a month before I could start. So I came up with a few ways to get back into working out, my boss gave me a great workbook to organize my days and set both personal and career goals, my girlfriend and I came up with a plan to eat better and more consistently. Essentially, I’m trying to reinstate my student-athlete lifestyle but in a sustainable way. I spent so long focusing on building the racecar (my body) but never once thought about the driver (my mind). I was the athlete equivalent of a Formula 1 racecar being driven by a gorilla. This time, my focus is balance, and mental wellness above all else. It’s time I truly practice what I preach.

Wish me luck, I’m nervous as hell, but I’m excited to share what I learn and how it affects me.

Write you next week,

Esty