Are you putting one foot in front of the other with confidence that you are heading toward a meaningful goal?
I spent yesterday cheering on my amazing friend Christy, who completed her second Ironman Louisville. She completed the race in 15 hours, 21 minutes, and 5 seconds. There were many finishers ahead of her (2158), and many behind her as well. Our crew of “Ironman Groupies” cheered on all of them during the point in the run where they passed the same spot 4 times. We cheered as it got dark and most fans had gone home. We felt as if we knew many of these people that we’d seen as they passed multiple times. We gave them wild encouragement to keep putting one foot in front of the other, without thinking of the balance of the 140.6 miles that lay ahead of them.
What has someone be able to accomplish this amazing feat? We noticed that, surprisingly, Ironmen come in all shapes and sizes. They were not all the buff physical specimens you may hold in your mind as the Ironman. There were very heavy participants who were hours ahead of others who appeared toned and strong. And they all completed this test of endurance. We concluded that the game is mental as much as physical.
If you took the time to dive into the story of any Ironman, you’d find a clear reason they committed to the adventure. They wanted something from it, they had a purpose, they committed to the goal, and then they put one foot in front of the other. To complete the event, they needed a clear vision of themselves as a finisher, and then they let go of worrying about the “how” – if they didn’t, the “how” would have been too overwhelming to take the first step. In training, there is a schedule to follow each day. In the race, it is one event then the next, one mile then the next, one stroke, one pedal, one stride, then the next. Looking beyond to the 15 hours ahead would make someone not jump into the water. Visualizing the goal, then taking one step at a time, that is the key.
Similarly, with business or career goals, I recommend and do my best to follow this approach. Get crystal clear on what the goal is, and why you hold that goal as sacred. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else understands your reasons for doing it (MANY people told my friend she was crazy, repeatedly), but the reasons need to matter to you, enough that when the next step is hard, it is worth it. The goal pulls you forward.
Then let go of “how” exactly you’ll accomplish the goal, or thinking about all the steps you need to take to get there. Have a loose idea of how it might go. Create a calendar so you know how to spend your time each day. Then, identify the one next step that you know needs to happen, and release any concern in your mind about the step that comes after that, trusting yourself that you’ll handle that step when you get to it. Then repeat. For 140.6 miles, or whatever it takes to meet your personal goals.
For me, my current desires are a home on a beautiful lake surrounded by nature, a fun and flexible schedule, meaningful relationships, new adventures that stretch me, and making a difference in the degree of freedom, self-expression, and love on the planet.