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My 2021 Xmas Tree and Athletic Year Analogy

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

By Bob Byard, Certified USA-T Level II Triathlon Coach

Note: Although the article is a couple of years old, the analogies still apply...

I’m putting this out as a look back on how 2019 unfolded, maybe as just a rambling summary of the year’s events or maybe somehow mentally therapeutic for me. Not really sure which, but here goes…

On reflection, I’ve compared my undecorated tree as I began the 2019 Season – fresh, uncluttered and full of options (like the aspirations in the New Year) as a unique opportunity. The finished tree will be the result of my decoration decisions (similar to my final goals and unplanned challenges)) when it completed.

When you put the lights on first, (like setting annual goals and challenge, yet attainable) it give basic form and symmetry to the tree. You move the lights around (as you do with life’s priorities) when you stand back and observe your initial efforts.

Next, the bulbs and ornaments you hang are various colors and shapes (similar to the year’s priorities you place on planned events) that fill in spaces. As the tree decorations become more numerous (and challenges and unplanned events occur), you make changes to fill in the empty spaces (or unexpected events) identified.

You finish up the tree with minor additions like candy canes and tinsel (making final changes to goals and adapting to unforeseen event as time passes) as desired. The last minute tree adjustments (and changes in life priorities due to health, etc.) are then viewed as a finished project.

The decoration of the Christmas tree is done (as are the events of the year) and now is when you review your efforts. The tree is illuminated to see flaws and its beauty (as are reflections on personal accomplishments and challenges).

I use the tree decorating and what’s happened to me this year as a simile – a comparison to show a similar flow, yet of unrelated events. The way the tree is finally done is rarely changed; it’s accepted for a finished product. Similarly, I accept the outcome of events of what did, and didn’t, happed as planned in 2019; you can’t change outcomes. My Christmas tree turned out pretty much as I’d wanted (and 2019 was pretty good in spite of health issues) so I like what I see in both instances.

Next year, I’ll cut another tree that I carefully pick for its attractiveness and potential (as will be my fife, social, training and racing goals). I have some ideas on how to decorate the 2020 Christmas tree better (and set clearer life style priorities and new athletic challenges) to make next year more rewarding.

I’m looking forward to 2020 – both next year’s Christmas tree decorating and on how the personal challenges and achievements of the year hopefully unfold. How are your preparations for 2020 going ?


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