“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
Someone posed the question to me “How do you continually get up every morning to run & workout despite the time, the weather, and setbacks?”
I’ve pondered this question for many days and thought about the “right” answer. Unfortunately, the answer is simple, but it isn’t easy. To be clear, I don’t hit every single day perfectly. I do however hit at least 6 days a week consistently week in and week out. So, am I just special or do I have a special power? Absolutely not! I’m no different than anyone else. Well except for one thing.
I know I’ve told this story before, but I don’t think it has designated to the point I wish it would. I didn’t just start waking up early one day and busting my ass at the gym or running long distances. I started with a simple small salsa bowl and a walk around the block. I know it doesn’t seem like this would make a difference at all… But I promise, it was the most important thing I’ve ever done.
Why? Because I worked one meal at a time, one block at a time, one day at a time to develop a habit of success. Sure, I missed days, overate anyway, didn’t change the type of food I ate, but when it came down to it, I consistently made the necessary changes every single day to change my life forever. I focused on TODAY, not tomorrow and not yesterday. I focused on the hour I was in. I worked to not eat the extra doughnut, I focused on waking up 5 minutes earlier, making sure I got my one block walk in, and not screwing up my entire day when I got home from work. Again, did I miss? Absolutely, but I didn’t let one bad decision lead to another which led to more bad choices. When the day was done, it was over. Win or lose, I couldn’t change the actions so my only choice was to move on and make tomorrow better.
Now, I know what you’re saying… Won’t that take forever????? Well, yes and no. While I was working every single day, not seeing the instant results that are promised by products and pills, it was frustrating… There were days I wanted to quit. Days I wanted to throw in the towel and say screw it, I’m done. They I’d look back on my goals, actions and results from the month and I realized how much success I was having. By focusing on my daily actions instead of focusing on my results, I have the right mindset to keep moving forward. Was it easy. NO! The first 6 months was like going through hell. I wanted to give up Every. Single. Day… But I was committed to my plan and committed to taking the action.
As I moved from eating less and walking to eating better and working out, I used the same process. A little bit at a time, one day at a time and focusing on the process, not the results. I was committed. When I would oversleep and “not have enough time” to go to the gym, I forced myself to get out of bed, get dressed and drive to the gym. There were many, many days I didn’t even get out of my car. I sat in my car at the rec center and listened to the radio for 5 minutes and then drive home. Sounds stupid and worthless, right??!! Of course, But what I was doing was creating positive habits and building on my frustration to make more positive changes and take better actions.
I found that by forcing myself out of bed, I started getting in the habit of setting my alarm 5 minutes earlier and actually getting out of bed in time to go work out. If I only had 10 minutes to work out, I would use the 10 minutes the best I could. My frustration built on only having 10 minutes so I would get out of bed earlier and earlier. Eventually I had an hour and a half to get out of bed and work out before I had to be home and get ready for work. I developed a breakfast routine so I already knew what I could eat and I didn’t have to think about it. To this day, 3 years later, I still have the same thing for breakfast 95% of the time. I don’t think about it, I just do it. Think about it, it took me 6 months to change a major habit and then another 6 months to change a couple more habits to the point where I wanted to get up early and work out. Day to day, it sucked, it was hard and it didn’t seem worth it. After a year, I knew I was on to something.
When I started running, I went through the same process. Every single day, I would add some running to my routine. One block at a time until I worked my way up to a mile. When I started training for my first marathon, I added a little more every week. As I look back, day to day it seemed like it was taking forever and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. Now that I look back, those small consistent changes were the most important thing I’ve ever done. I would not be where I am today, having the success I have today without those small changes. Did I fail? Yes, a lot. But I didn’t focus on the failures, I focused on the process. The process of working past my failures is what made me successful. I have created a morning routine of success and hard work. That is why and how I am able to get up and work through the cold, the wind, the soreness, the disappointment and everything else that comes with training for a 100.
Does this mean I will breeze through my first 100 mile race? No. I’d like to… But no one will know until I fail or cross that finish line. I believe in my process. I work my process day in and day out. I work to follow my plan. But as with everything else I’ve done, until I can look back at the big picture, no one will know. I would be willing to bet though, if I push through the tough days and the disappointment, I will cross that finish line achieving my biggest goal yet. And to think back to how everything started, a salsa bowl and a walk around the block… What makes me get out of bed in the morning? The thought that if I can do what is needed today and tomorrow and the next day, I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. And for now, I’m going to run 100 miles and cross that finish line.
“Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is too far away. TODAY is the only day that matters.” So go out and make today the best day of your life and don’t give up until you have everything that you want.
Run Epic my Friends!