This is my mantra with my running, my business, and my life.
Like most people, I have no problem dreaming big, but I have often failed in connecting the necessary actions to achieve the dream. I have been frozen by my desire for perfection. If I stumbled in the beginning, it would lead to me feeling that my goal was impossible because it couldn’t be perfect. I would abandon it entirely and become stuck in the loop of failure.
I’ve tried various approaches over the years by reading quite a few self-help books, listening to podcasts, and watching TED talks in hopes of passing through my mental roadblocks. The recurring message from all my resources was how futile it was to wait for perfection. How opportunities would be missed in doing so.
February will mark my fourth anniversary of me owning my running and outdoor store. If anything has taught me about flexibility in goals, it’s from owning a business! In 2015, I was in the best shape of my life and crushed every single goal I set for myself.
A year later my life drastically changed when I opened my store. Working sixty to eighty hours a week to get things running (yes, I love puns) annihilated any of my fitness goals. Survival was all I had in mind. I felt a distinct loss in that part of my life. Running has provided companionship and solitude depending on my mood. Working as much as I did caused running to take a backseat in order to juggle work and family. I don’t recommend overhauling fitness goals during large changes in life. Grace is the best gift you can give to yourself.
Adjust expectations – In the run coaching world, we say “You are where you are”. It seems overly simple and redundant because it is. Too often we get caught up in where we think we “should be” or we become stagnant by beating ourselves up over past missteps.
Accept where you are at this moment of your life from an objective view – Review past mistakes from a new lens of acceptance. Determine which activity interests you or think of one you’ve enjoyed in the past. If you don’t enjoy running, then don’t register for a 5k race! Buy a 10-class pass for a local gym and try different classes. Find a local hiking group and join them. Set a goal to walk around the block once a day, or three times a week. Sometimes we forget we can do hard things and it can take time to remember. The key is to create a new habit in your life.
Identify priorities – When I was starting my business, training for another marathon would not have been an achievable goal. My business had to come above any other personal goal. Picture what your daily schedule looks like to help you determine where you can add an activity. Pinpoint the barriers in your life and decide on a plan to overcome them. There are many free resources available online for yoga, weight lifting, cardio workouts, etc.
Write it down – There’s something about my fingers turning a page or drawing a line to check off a completed task that satisfies my soul. When I was in junior high, the school district gave each student an academic planner. It had motivating quotes on the thick pages and horizontal sections. It’s why I still use a planner with the same qualities. It is how I taught my brain to organize my days. I do not get the same satisfaction by typing on my phone. I also tend to forget to look at my calendar on my phone. Some people prefer to use an app on their phone or some other techy program. The best application is the one you use. If you’re unsure, experiment with both and see which one you use the most. For my running goals, I use a running journal/calendar. It helps to see how many miles on which days I need to run. Marking them down is the way I plan for the week and can hold myself accountable.
Determine who you are and what you need – There is no right or wrong way of doing this. You are who you are. Do you find you have better success by setting small goals to slowly build your confidence or by overhauling an area of your life? Feeling overwhelmed may have you giving up before you begin, so think about how you can approach your goals. Reflect on some previous successes and failures of your life with a kind and objective heart. Analyze the factors that contributed to each in order to create a step-by-step plan.
Find a community – I live in a rural area and we have a variety of running groups. We have co-ed groups, a women’s only group, and a trail running group. Each of our local gyms has a fantastic community of people as well. It doesn’t seem as ridiculous to get up at 4:50am to run 5 miles in 14 degrees Fahrenheit when someone else is willing to do the same! Facebook, meetup.com, and other social media platforms are helpful in finding a community. If your area doesn’t have what you’re looking for, start your own group. There are sure to be others interested. State parks often have “Friends” groups that do trail projects and events and can help you meet like-minded people.
No matter what your goals are, remember why you chose them and what you’re trying to achieve. Moving our body feels good! Give yourself the freedom to adapt and adjust your goal if needed. For running, the Couch to 5k app recommends users repeat the previous week if the current week feels too difficult. These are your goals and there is no one way to achieve them. Sometimes life is going to take you other directions.
In my running journal, Marty Jerome writes “Completing your regular run is not more important than quelling a pitched fight with a loved one, meeting a critical work deadline, or showing up for a friend’s wedding – not even if you’re training for Olympic gold. Sorry, but discipline does not make you a hero…
“Discipline is the product, not the creator, of realistic goals and proper planning.”
You might stumble or slow down, but whatever you do, keep moving.
Jenn Soisson is an outdoor enthusiast, wife, mom, and stepmom who loves to run, coach runners, and sell running shoes at www.runhikeplay.com and at her brick and mortar store. She spent years overwhelmed by blended family conflict until she decided to become the creator of her own life.