Today is my 1,000th day of running every single day. It is now a fully established habit and expectation in my life that I run at least one mile every day. There is no question, no excuse, no way to avoid it. I just do it.
I recently read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. The book is all about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A growth mindset will lead you down the path to success while a fixed mindset will keep you stuck.
“Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.” What this means is that success is not simply a measure of luck, genetics, or giftedness, but hard work and focused effort.
If you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be, you will have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to do hard things. That’s why I run every day. It actually has only a tiny bit to do with my health, my weight, or my physical fitness now. My run streak instead, has everything to do with pursuing hard things to experience my personal best, in all areas of life.
If you want to be successful, grow in life, and become your best, you’ll have to work your hardest, pursue discomfort, and get well-acquainted with failure. Here are some other tips I’ve discovered during my streak about how to tackle hard things and blow your own mind:
1. Choose a Goal You Care About.
The book Mindset shared a lot of stories of various professional athletes. Dweck mentions an athlete who had great skills and talent and parents who pushed him to pursue his sport because he was so good at it. The problem was, he didn’t actually like the sport! He never reached his full potential because no matter how skilled he was, you can’t force passion.
So shut out the crowd of people telling you what you should do with your life and pay attention to what you want to do. What burns in your heart? What excites you? What wakes you up in the morning? What fuels and energizes you? Pursue those things and leave the rest for someone else.
It kills me how many times I hear people complaining about how much they hate running, and yet they try to force themselves to run all the time. And they’re miserable about it. You don’t have to run to be in good shape or lose weight, in fact, there are better ways to do both of those things. If you don’t like running, don’t run. But if you do like running and you’re maybe just not very good at it, then by all means, run more, you’ll improve and you might just start enjoying it more (worked for me!).
2. Develop a Good Reason.
If I was running for weight loss (or weight maintenance), which tends to be what most people assume, I would have felt defeated and given up a long time ago. Not that I’ve gained a ton of weight on my streak, but I also haven’t lost much. My body size was never my reason for running every day.
It started out that I was tired of signing up for half marathons and then struggling to finish them because I was so inconsistent in my training. I wanted to actually figure out how to run on a regular basis. And now I have mastered the consistency habit I was hoping for. Last year I ran half a dozen half marathon or longer races and none of them were miserable. I enjoyed every single one and still had energy left over after each of them to take care of my kids and live the other parts of my life.
The “Why” you have for pursuing hard things is one of the most important things you need to figure out in order to keep yourself going. If you’re struggling to keep yourself motivated take some time to figure out why you decided to do this thing in the first place.
3. Commit and Decide Ahead of Time.
Never make important decisions in the heat of the moment. Always decide ahead of time. I chose to start a run streak. At first, I was only committed to 41 days. My goal continues to grow the longer I run. But I decided on my goal before I ever got started. Which means that the decision to run each day or not, is not a question I ever have to ask myself. I run every day, that’s just what I do.
Don’t let your emotions and excuses derail the things you want to accomplish in life. You will not feel like doing hard things at some point, but if you’ve decided and committed to yourself in advance, you can push past your excuses and just do it.
4. Accept Imperfection as a Learning Experience.
If you want to be successful in life you will not be perfect. Perfection means you aren’t pushing yourself, you aren’t growing, you aren’t doing hard things. You were made for bigger things, not perfect things.
The entire point of mistakes and failures is to teach us and help us grow. Babies don’t give up on learning to walk just because they fall down. They always get back up. And it is in the getting back up that their muscles are used in such a way that they are able to develop the strength they need to successfully walk. If babies didn’t push themselves back up after falling they would never develop the muscle strength required to actually walk.
If you don’t pick yourself up after a failure or mistake you will never develop the strength and knowledge you need to actually reach the success you are seeking.
5. Take It One Step at a Time.
If you would have told me on day one that I would be doing this 1,000 days later I would not have started. That sounded miserable, stupid, and ridiculous to me at the time. But I wasn’t focused on day 1,000, I was focused on day one, and then day two.
And when I’m sick, I don’t even focus on the whole day, I just focus on the very next step in front of me. Left foot, right foot, left foot. One at a time, just keep moving forward.
If you’re facing a mountain, focus on the next right step.
6. Stop Giving Up.
Sure, there are some things that are worth giving up in life. We learn something new and realize that we are better off taking a different path.
But what about those things you really want in life? What about that dream you have that just won’t let go? What about that desire burning inside of you no matter how much you try to ignore it?
You’ve tried before and failed. You couldn’t figure it out. You weren’t successful. It was too hard.
But what if you just didn’t give up? They say insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting different results. This is true. But what if you tried the same thing in a different way. And just kept trying different ways until you found the one way that actually worked for you. Everything is figure-out-able. Stop giving up.
7. Don’t Make Excuses, Find Creative Solutions.
There will always be good reasons for you to delay, hold back, give up, or change course. I’ve been sick many times over the past 1,000 days, but I still went out for a run. We had nearly two feet of snow on the ground last week, but I still went out for a run.
When faced with a reason to go off course instead of giving up, figure out what you can do to keep going.
8. Don’t Go Alone.
I have a friend who started a run streak with me on day one. We’ve only been able to run together a handful of times, usually at races, but I always know she’s running each day as well. I have a large number of people who have started (and many still continue) their own running streaks over the last 1,000 days. Knowing I’m not the only person crazy enough to do this is encouraging. And knowing that my friends across town are fighting this snowstorm too, helps me keep pressing on.
Find someone to support you, cheer you on, and maybe even go with you. Pursuing hard things can sometimes feel isolating. You feel like the odd one, the crazy one, no one else is working so hard. But there are others out there doing hard things too. Find your people (or inspire some people to join you if you can’t find any).
9. Push Yourself to Learn and Try New Things.
If I ran the same route day in and day out for the past 1,000 days I’d be bored out of my mind, so I’m constantly changing up my route. Sure, I have some favorites that I do most often, but if I’m in a rut or feeling bored, there are miles to run in every direction. Some directions have more hills, some have prettier views, and some routes I enjoy just because they are fun. I also tend to change up my pace when I’m looking for more of a challenge or to beat the monotony.
You will hit a point in every difficult journey where things start to become easier or monotonous or boring. Instead of just trudging along in misery, do something to change things up and help yourself grow.
10. Speak Positively to Yourself.
Listen to the thoughts and words you say to yourself, about yourself. You have to be your biggest supporter and your best cheerleader. Yes, you see your deepest flaws and imperfections. You know all your secrets. And you still get to love yourself and count yourself worthy in spite of it all, because you are worthy and wonderful and valuable.
Speak only things that edify, encourage, and build up, not just toward others, but more importantly toward yourself. If you can’t love yourself you can’t ever fully love someone else.
11. Just Show Up and Do the Work.
I know, I’ve said a lot of words in this blog post so far. And I think each of these pieces is important. But the mindset of a champion can all be boiled down to someone who shows up and gets it done, no matter what.
There is no easy button. There is no fast track or shortcut. Achieving great things requires great effort. “Personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best” (Carol Dweck).
Growth can only happen in the pursuit of hard things. And success is only reached when you put in the work.
Check Out Additional Posts About My Run Streak