Sometimes life just gets in the way. It’s that simple. You may have a clear vision, a realistic plan, positive motivation, and good support. You may be making progress along the way. And then something happens that is out of your control and you fall off track.
A common response is to beat yourself up with your thoughts and to feel like you blew it. How often do we blame ourselves and feel like a failure? And how hard is it to get back on the wagon once we feel like we’ve fallen? But, sometimes, no matter how determined we are to reach our goals, life simply gets in the way of you making things happen as planned. Then what? How can you reassess and revise your plan and jump back on board?
Let me share a little bit of my marathon training adventure as I’ve learned that running is truly a metaphor for life…. Here I am, a 43 year old single mom, in the midst of a difficult divorce, building a women’s wellness center, and just determined to run my first marathon.
While inspired by the movie “Wild” to embark on a healing journey, I don’t think I could handle even one night of camping out alone in my backyard, let alone the Pacific Coast Trail! However, I admire Cheryl Strayed’s incredible strength and perseverance and connected with her story.
As a brand new runner, running along the beautiful Jersey Shore boardwalks has become part of my personal healing adventure. I have not found anything else to be as soothing or empowering as running along side the crashing waves of the ocean. I can release my thoughts into the ebb and flow of the waves, I can inhale the ocean air and breathe in peace, and I can allow each step forward to show my strength and positive momentum in reaching my goals.
I steadily increased my mileage each week and enjoyed the camaraderie of training with my running partners. I even thought I had confronted my fear of training in the cold until Mother Nature “blessed” us with record breaking lows this winter. While I learned to feel invigorated running when the temps dropped under 25, near freezing conditions were another story! Then my divorce became exceedingly complicated with excessive demands outside of my control.
My life started getting in the way of my training … Clearly, I can’t control the weather. And sadly, I can not control the time needed to manage my divorce. Life forces, outside of my control, are now forcing me to reassess my goal.
On a funny sidebar, when I shared my marathon plans with my children, my 7-year old daughter said, “but mommy, you’re not going to win.” To which I responded, “not only am I not going to win, but at least 1000 people will finish before me.”
So, now I’m not only faced with the dilemma of giving up on my goal and feeling like I failed personally, but feeling like I will fail to be a good role model to my children and to my clients. Do I give up because the going got tough? Do I allow my marriage/divorce to prevent me from reaching another lifelong goal? Do I give up because it got a little cold this winter?
I have decided that giving up is not an option. While I need to accept that life and Mother Nature got in my way, I will not allow either to defeat me. And I have a little girl who needs to learn that I don’t have to cross the finish line first to be a winner, I just need to continue my own personal journey.
But, I also need to be realistic here. Life got in the way of my marathon goal (that might have been just a little too big for a new runner anyway) and pushing myself too far, too fast, is just not a smart move. Is the risk of physical injury worth a little disappointment and possible blow to my ego?
If I were guiding a client in therapy, the path would be clear. I would encourage her to break her goal down into manageable parts and embrace success at each step. I would never expect a client to push herself too far past physical limits because of fear of letting go of a dream. When outside forces interfere, it’s time to reassess where you are, revise the plan, and just keep going. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I’m going to run the NJ Half Marathon in 8 weeks and allow myself to embrace the joy and success of completing my first ever half marathon (not such a shabby goal in itself!). But, watch out Philly, because I’ll be there for the full 26.2 in November!
Life gets in the way sometimes and we need to learn to accept what we can’t control, move past the roadblocks, and embrace what we have the power to change.