Many Short Races

Today’s Monday’s Motivational Mantra – “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” – Walter Elliot

Under the guise of you never know who is watching and the impact you may have on others, I received a most surprising email from a student recently. In it, she shared she wanted to make healthy changes with her body. She does do exercises, but loses motivation and then gets depressed. First, wow!! I do believe this speak volumes and resonate with so many people in so many areas of life, not just exercise or leading a healthier lifestyle. How many of us have started working towards a new goal, whether it be large, like creating a new business or changing careers, or small, like cleaning out and organizing a closet? What starts out as motivated enthusiasm at some point turns to frustration, despair and all progress grinds to a halt and we put it on the back burner to be continued at another time.

As this quote on perseverance so eloquently reminds us, the pursuit of anything worth doing and achieving isn’t about one big action or leap to accomplish it. No matter what the goal, it requires we put in a little work each time and it is the sum of all those small efforts that will lead us to attaining our goals. From day to day, those efforts don’t feel like they accomplished much. In fact, when I posted this quote as part of my Monday Motivational Mantra series, I used 4 photos of me in the gym over the past week or so. Guess what, for getting in all those workouts that week, I don’t see any differences in those pictures. But I went to the gym. I worked hard in each workout. I followed my plan. I put all of my effort into each of those workouts and executing my plans. If I gauge my success by those pictures of that one week, I should quit because I didn’t accomplish my goals.

It is that thinking that leads us to giving up on things we really want to do, way too soon. Our focus needs to shift away from the larger goal and to the more immediate, smaller actions required today in order to move closer to that larger goal. I didn’t fail by any means. In fact, that week of workouts was a complete success. First, I showed up and completed each of those workouts. Second, I hit every goal within each workout, and followed it up with hitting my other health and nutrition goals outside of the gym. Did I gain 10 lbs of muscle or lose 10 lbs of bodyfat in those pics? Nope. But if I didn’t nail those smaller actions and put in the work that week would I be any closer to accomplishing those things? Definitely not.

What you do today matters.  It may not seem like it in the grand scheme of your higher goals, but every day, every action counts.  You may not feel like it, you  may not know how you will get it done, but it is within you. In today’s world, some days nothing seems certain, predictable, or stable.  It has all of us scrambling, starting and restarting, falling, and getting back up. However, the determination, resolve, and perseverance, are within your control and are alive and clear within you.  You can make it happen today.

My response and advice to my student, I think is as universal as her feelings and dilemma. She already has the motivation – that desire to make a change and improve. She has proven she has turned that into action. It is not motivation she lacks. It comes down to running those short races day after day. She doesn’t necessarily need to feel like exercising that day or making a healthier choice, but she should do it anyway. Like us, we don’t always feel like doing what we had planned, but we must hold ourselves accountable. The time will pass, and if we only wait until we “feel like it” that time will be gone. You must aim to do your best in the moment of the day and work to be a little better than you were yesterday. This is not a linear path, but with each day and opportunity if you give the best you have at that moment, that is a success.  You control only you and what you can do in this moment.  Be present, focus and put your energy into winning the short race today.