What can you do today?
Have you ever had days where you feel impossibly far from your goal? There’s you, and then there’s the person you want to be – whether as an athlete, a professional, a spouse or a friend – seemingly out of reach.
That feeling of impossibility is part of setting a big goal. Some days it just seems like too much. I (Coach Emily) have been feeling this way a lot recently; about a month ago, I planned my 2019 racing season and set a crazy, lifetime goal for a Fall marathon. Basically, I want to run the same pace for a marathon as I ran for my fastest 5k in high school. And here I am, sitting on my butt after a rather hastily-planned wisdom-teeth surgery, heading into my third week of discontinuous training. Right now, I can’t do anything more than walk around the neighborhood, and even that gets my heart rate up. I feel useless, out of shape, and when my marathon goal crosses my mind, it’s enough to make me laugh out loud because it seems unattainable from where I’m sitting.
After a short pity party yesterday, I sat down and asked myself, “If you can’t run today, what can you do today to get a little bit closer to your goal?” When you are sick, overloaded with other priorities, or out of your routine, you might not be able to make any big steps toward the person you want to be, but you can make the decision to inch closer, edge closer, create even a little bit of forward momentum. No day is purposeless.
For me, that tiny step was to block out an hour to move around and work on the mobility that often becomes an issue when I’m running a lot, in the hope that I can stave off problems when I do get to resume training at my desired level. I also sat down and wrote a training plan for a marathoner I coach, capitalizing on the forced downtime to make strides toward my professional goals and help out someone else.
The process of accomplishing goals is composed of ups and downs that result in a long series of small steps forward. Very rarely do we leap or bound toward the athletes of people we want to be. Occasionally, along the way, we experience glamorous PR’s or breakthroughs, but if you take a magnifying glass to those performances, even they are composed of many smaller, less glamorous day-to-day decisions and bouts of work.
If you feel distant from the person or athlete you want to be, or if your goals seem ludicrous, I have a couple things to say to you:
First, congratulations. You have set a goal that scares you. I can’t tell you exactly what is going to happen and when, but I promise you you’re going to grow over these next few weeks, months, years.
Second, get excited – about the future, the moment when you reach that goal, but also about today – because every day, you can make a stride toward that goal, no matter how small. Accept your current circumstances and ask yourself, “what can I do today to become more like the person or athlete I want to be?” Then, commit.