In the middle of 2015, I decided that 2016 was the year that I would run a half marathon.
I ran two.
Prior to that decision, I had never run more than three miles.
I’ve always enjoyed moving, dancing, and playing sports, but I have never been naturally graceful or athletic. Nor did I have any kind of habitual workout routine.
Aside from my formal schooling, becoming a runner is one of the most educational things I have done in my adult life.
There are three main lessons from running that I want to carry with me into 2017, into my photography business, and into any other endeavors, I may choose to pursue.
It seems simple I suppose, but when I started to run, I was able to see, in a crystalline way, that progress is made when you literally put one foot in front of the other, over and over until you reach your goal.
The goal needs to be clear and the plan needs to be realistic, but reaching your goal simply can’t happen without all of the times you decide to say yes instead of no.
That proud moment, when I sprinted the final 0.1 miles and my throat burned and I cried and I couldn’t breathe… That moment was just the slightest fraction of what it was to run a half maration.
It was rolling out of bed on fifty or a hundred cold dark mornings. It was deciding to run one more mile than I did last weekend. It was the mantras and the heartbeats and the breaths and each and every step. It was doing something so many times that my body simply knew.
Lesson #1: If you want a dream to be real, you have to keep working at it, bit by bit, day by day, until it becomes a part of you. Until it is. The best way to manifest your dream is to take it one step at a time.
I am a slow runner. The only way I can get my body to tolerate long distances is to slow it down. Slow is key. Slow is me.
Running with other people can be intimidating and usually leads me to doubt all that I have accomplished. Other people always seem to be faster and leaner. And I am always, always sweatier!
But if I try to go as fast as them, my body rebels. I get wheezy. I get headaches. My guts… well they didn’t like it much either. So I slow down. And I get stronger. And I go farther. And maybe I am a little bit faster too. And when I cross a finish line, I don’t care who is ahead of me or who is behind. I only care that I have made it.
Lesson #2: Run your own race. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to yourself and you will see how far you’ve come.
“I am a runner.”
It’s not that easy for me to say. I feel like a fraud. Sure, I am “a person who runs,” but I’m probably not a runner. After all, a runner is fast. A runner does hill repeats without breaking a sweat. (A runner definitely would have run more than one time this month.)
But there is power in words. If you want something to be true, you have to believe it. And sometimes it’s easier to convince other people than it is to convince yourself.
When I started to tell people that I was a runner, I opened myself to encouragement and community. And over time, between their encouragement and my accomplishments, it became true.
Lesson #3: Project the image of yourself (and your business) that you want to be true. If you ask others to believe in your dream as hard as you do, and you act on that belief, you may find that belief combined with action creates a new reality.
Life is not a race and I’m certainly not sprinting toward the finish line, but I want 2017 to be a year of moving the reality of this photography business closer to the dream in my mind.
There is a lot of work ahead for me in 2017, but I plan to hit the ground running.
This blog post was inspired by the The Rising Tide Society’s Recharge Challenge. Today’s activity is to find one quote that will anchor your business in 2017. The quotes I found got me thinking about all of the lessons I have learned this year. Thanks for taking the time to read it and for joining me on this journey.