Left, right. Left, right.
Swing those arms. Arch that back.
I have become well acquainted with the pavement recently. Every day, around 5:15 p.m., I steel my nerve to run further and faster.
Left. Right. Left. Right.
As the weeks turn into months (and the tread runs smooth on my sneakers), I wonder: Why am I running? Why am I carefully and purposefully expending so much energy to run one or two
miles every day?
I have no marathons on the horizon. I want to get more fit, for certain. But as that time of day rolls around, I ask myself still: Why?
The same goes of the rest of my life: the great discipline I exert to rise early, eat well, attend to coworkers and personnel during the workday, smiling and saying the right things with others. Writing and reading with abandon during after hours and preparing myself to write just one more cover letter, update my resumé just one more time, search just one more city for career opportunities.
How long can I keep this up? Trying to run the perfect race, when it seems I’m just running in circles?
As I have grown older, I have found that what happens to me isn’t what gives me true joy; it is how I attend to life that gives me inner peace. The discipline that I bring to every aspect of my life, the drive and purpose I put behind projects and initiatives – those are what give me joy. It is the act of doing that gives me joy, and doing it to the best of my ability lifts my spirits and validates my existence.
But, just like running, this discipline of purposeful action is incredibly difficult. As I put yet another sticky note on my screen to remind myself of these things, I thought I would share them for all others who are slowly, yet surely, running toward their own perfection:
- Recognize your self-worth. When you regard yourself as lesser-than, the energy you put into yourself instantly diminishes. You become empty; so much, in fact, that contact by other people is seen as threatening. Denying your own worth becomes a dangerous spiral into seclusion and depression.
- Stop procrastinating already. Don’t say you’re not ready to run a marathon. Don’t say that you can’t possibly begin writing that book. Don’t say you don’t know enough about CSS or HTML to start web design. Just do it. Confront your fears and grow.
- Find a running buddy. It’s hard to keep going. We all know that. That’s why you shouldn’t go it alone. I owe so much to the people around me; even if they are not in my field, the experience and advice they have is inspiring, instructive and invigorating. And who knows? They might just go running with you.
- Just keep running. Consistency is key. You won’t even think of stopping if it becomes routine. Turn your a-game into a way of life.
I might not have all the answers yet, but I won’t get anywhere by standing still. I’ve had victories, setbacks and thrills along the way. First real job offer? An incredible rush! Exploring a new city by myself? Still inspires me to this day. First day I ran two miles? I felt like I was on top of the world.
Now let’s try for three.