Last year I ran my first full marathon. My little legs carried me for 26.2 miles through the streets of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It was an amazing experience, something I had only dreamed of before. Something that I felt was completely impossible just a year ago. Something I never thought I could do as a full-time working mom of two kids with a husband, a job, and a blog on the side. Who has time to add one more ginormous thing to their plate?
But I really wanted to do it. I wanted to see this dream become a reality. I knew that there would never be a perfect time and my schedule wasn’t getting any less full any time soon. So I decided that 2016 would be the year. I was going to run a marathon. When I set that goal early in the year I had many doubts. I didn’t actually think I could do it, but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I gave it a good try. I wrote down my goal. I told my closest friends and family. I was going to run a marathon.
I selected the race and put it on my calendar. I imagined myself running and crossing the finish line. I was really going to do this thing!
Maybe that is how you were feeling about your goals for this year just last week. You were so excited and ready and motivated. You were dreaming and imagining and pondering all that you can do in a year. You made your list of goals, maybe you even told some people about all the great things you were going to do. You circled and highlighted the big achievement date on your calendar. You imagined how your life would change, you dreamed about how amazing it will feel when you achieve this great thing. Life was good. You were going to accomplish tremendous things this year!
And then you went back to work and remembered how busy life actually is. You showed up at the gym for your first workout and the next day you couldn’t even manage to lift your arms to turn off the alarm clock. You tried to start working on your big project but your children just can’t give you5 seconds of peace. You hoped to stay up late to get started on your dream but your eyes started drooping before you even finished making dinner. You sat down to get started and suddenly realized you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing or where to start.
Your dreams have begun to dim. Your goals have turned into fears. Your excitement quickly faded and you are left wondering what in the world you were thinking. You can’t do this thing. This is too huge. You are too busy. It is way easier just to Netflix and Chill.
I get it, friend. I am right there with you. I’ve set some really scary goals for myself this year and I am so excited about the prospect of achieving them, but at just 11 days into the New Year, I’m seriously questioning my sanity. I do not have the time. I don’t know where to start. I’m not sure I’m good enough. And I have no idea where I’m supposed to find the energy and willpower. So I sat down with myself and my overwhelm and looked back at what I have accomplished that felt impossible at the time. I set out to determine how I did it then so I can repeat it this year. I wanted to share what I learned with you so that we can be brave and accomplish all of our dreams and goals this year, together.
Make a detailed, step-by-step plan.
Last year when I set out to run a marathon I didn’t stop with dreaming about it, writing it down, and putting it on the calendar. I did my research on how best to train. I studied the kind of workouts I needed to do, the kinds of food I needed to eat, and the time it would take. I found a training program that I could trust to work and put it on my calendar. I committed myself to doing the runs according to the training schedule and I got my family on board to support me along the way.
You won’t get anywhere in life just dreaming and writing things down. You have to develop a plan. For most goals, you won’t actually know on day one how to get from point A to your dream of point Z. You will have to do some research. Read some books or articles and ask other people who have done it before. Don’t allow yourself to become stuck in the stage of overwhelm and “I don’t know”. If someone has done it before you, you can do it too, you just have to learn how it’s done. So ask, research, and begin to learn.
After you’ve done your research you have to actually put that research to good use and develop your specific action plan. Research is step one, but what is step 2, what is step 3? Whether you work forwards or backward doesn’t really matter (although working backward from your goal is usually recommended as the easiest). But write out a plan of action, a list of daily action steps you can take that will slowly inch you toward your goal.
The smaller you break your steps down, the better. Try to make each item on your list something you can complete in one sitting. When marathon training I had a specific number of miles to run each and every day. I didn’t have any overwhelm or questions about what I needed to do. I woke up, looked at my calendar and saw “run 7 miles”, so I laced up my shoes, headed out the door and started running miles until I got to 7. Then I was done. This is how your plan should work. Keep working on breaking it down until you have a task list that you can add to your schedule and know you can accomplish that leads you all the way from where you are now to the “finish line” of your goal.
Once you have your list, put each and every step on your calendar. Schedule it in. You won’t have the time unless you make the time. If your goals are important to you, make the time. When marathon training, I had training runs that lasted 4-5 hours. My husband was also training to run the marathon at the same time (because we are insane), so for months at a time, our weekends consisted of trading off running and playing with the kids. It was exhausting, but we can now both say that we ran a marathon, something most people never do, and our kids learned valuable lessons about hard work and perseverance. There were trade-offs, really early mornings, sacrifices, and difficult decisions, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I’m so proud of what we accomplished. The point is, make your goals a priority and decide now when you will make the time in your schedule.
ReCommit and Get Support.
Now you know how you will achieve your goals. You have a plan and a schedule. You’ve decided what sacrifices you will make and where you will find the time. Now you must recommit to yourself. This is the point when you see every step ahead of you and you must look at all those steps and tell them who is boss. Recommit to your goal and make a promise to yourself to show up and work your plan.
You also need people who believe in you to back you up. You may or may not have a supportive spouse, bonus points if you do, it is a huge bonus. But even if you don’t have a spouse or he isn’t supportive, there is someone out there who believes in you. Find that person. Share your goals and plans with them. Ask them to be your support, your cheerleader, and your accountability partner. It is even better if you can find several people to fill this role. If your goal is big, you need a lot of people helping to push you toward it.
If you have kids, get them on board as well. Let them know your plans. Share with them how they can support you. Discuss your “why” with them so they understand the sacrifices and decisions you are making. Not only will you be teaching them amazing lessons on achieving goals but they might also become your biggest and best cheerleaders.
Start doing the work.
You’ve got a plan, you’re committed, and you’ve got support. Now it’s time to lace up your shoes and get moving. Start with step one of your plan and take action. At this point, you just need to follow your plan. Do the things you planned to do at the time you planned to do them.
Somedays will feel amazing. Somedays you will get off track. Somedays you’ll realize your plan just isn’t going to work the way you imagined and you have to adjust. All of these are normal and expected. Readjust, get back on track and keep showing up each and every day.
Want to know how to beat fear? Take action, any action in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be huge, just do something small that will lead you in the direction of your dreams. Then take the confidence you earned from that small thing and use it to do something a little bigger. Step by step, day by day, you will begin to move closer to your goal.
Failure must happen on the road to success. You will make mistakes. The only way to achieve our dreams is to rise from our mistakes and failures and keep moving forward.
When I was marathon training I was determined to have a 26-mile training run. Most training plans do not include a training run this long as a marathon is only 26.2 miles and the energy and excitement of race day will propel you from your shorter training run (usually 20 miles) to the finish line during your race. But I wanted to go into the race with the confidence that I could do it.
My 26-mile training run was scheduled for a day with high humidity, bright sunshine, and the temperatures quickly crept up to 83 degrees. I set out for the run as early as possible, packed tons of water and fuel, and took off with confidence. As the miles progressed, my confidence began to wane. No matter how much water I drank I could tell I was still getting very dehydrated. My head hurt, I was dizzy and started to feel nauseous. Eventually, I called my husband to come rescue me before I even reached the 20-mile mark. I had failed. I collapsed on the couch feeling miserable and defeated. I was scared that I couldn’t do it, scared that I would never make it to 26 miles.
There was no time to make up the run another day. I had to go into the race with the knowledge that my last long run had been a failed attempt. I didn’t know if I could do it anymore. But I kept showing up for the rest of the (shorter) runs on my training plan. I used the failed run to teach me. I researched better ways to fuel and stay hydrated. I started focusing more on my nutrition in the days before the race. I slept more, drank more water, increased my electrolytes, and prayed for cooler temperatures.
Crush your goals and Achieve the Impossible.
On race day, I was ready. As we drove to the starting line on race day I was so hydrated that I nearly peed my pants. The temperatures were significantly cooler and it even started raining for the end of the race (praise the Lord). I ran with all my heart and I finished proud and strong.
Failure did not defeat me and it won’t defeat you. Just keep showing up, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward.
That is how we achieve our goals. This is how we see our dreams become reality. A plan and daily action in the right direction. Show up, adjust when needed, brush yourself off when you fail, and keep moving ahead. Little by little you will get from today to your grand finish line.
Let’s do this.
Today’s Action Step
Start with step one, if you have a goal you hope to accomplish this year begin doing the research for how exactly you will achieve that goal. Find a book or a blog or a person who has done it. Schedule some time in your calendar to read and begin working toward your dreams. Just take a tiny step in the right direction.
The full story of my first marathon experience.
17 Ways to Make the New Year Your Best Year.
The marathon training plan I used.
How I’ve developed a daily running habit that has changed my life.
Need a confidence boost to help you realize who you are and what you’re capable of? Check out IAmBook.net to sign up for a free video series and then preorder the book “I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is” and start reading it (one of the preorder bonuses is a digital copy of the book so you can start reading today).
Not sure how to set up the systems and processed you need to actually make the time to work on your goals? This course can help get you there.
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If one of your goals involves running, fitness, or health, be sure to follow my running Instagram account where I share my exercise journey and inspirational messages a few times a week.
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