“Mom! I don’t want to wait! Don’t make me wait!” were the words of my sweet eight year old as she charged out from the START line of her first 5k.

Are you a runner?

Although I sometimes choke a bit on the word, I do call myself a “runner.” A complete stranger told me if I was training for my third half marathon, it was time to accept the mantle. Okay. There it is. I’m a runner. I’m not a fast runner, but a runner nonetheless.

Being a runner doesn’t make me fast, but it does make me wiser about the race. I knew what my daughter didn’t: that pace makes all the difference. If she started out fast, a few things would happen:

  1. She might lose sight of me and then get scared because she would be lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces
  2. I would lose sight of HER and then I would get scared
  3. Most likely of all, she would use all her energy up at the top of the race and then have nothing left for the finish.

She couldn’t know any of this. She was running her first race. Without any idea of how long a 5K actually felt or how much time it would take to run it, she charged ahead to the finish line.

Chasing the “Should”

Sometimes our goal is clear but our strategy is not.

In order to finish, at some point in our race together, she had to stop chasing what she thought was a short distance in front of her. She had to wait and let me catch up.

Often in our careers and in life, we chase the things we think we want. We chase the self-imagined idea of our finish line. It’s hard not to. Look at everyone else getting what they work hard for. They are SO happy! If they can do it, so can we. Right?

Maybe, but what’s the cost? Chasing the success we see others achieving is like replacing who we are and what we can achieve with who we should be and what we should achieve. We open ourselves up to the risk of getting separated from what we really care about.

I have trouble calling myself a runner because I run and walk in intervals – and I’m slow. Many runners are faster than I am. I don’t want to pull up the rear so I chase them or I criticize myself because I can’t keep up.

But you know what I want MORE than to run with the pack? To finish the race.

Finishing Strong

My daughter waited for me and eventually, she stopped being angry at me for making her “go slow.” She did get tired and she needed a lot of encouragement to keep going. It was a longer distance than she thought but we crossed the finish line, together, enjoying that feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes with the achievement of a goal that takes so much effort to reach.

We had to train and be persistent. We had to run with the right things in mind rather than chasing the wrong things.

What are you chasing today? Is it a spark of joy in a difficult job situation? Are you still pursuing that promotion that never seems to happen? Do you think your house should look like the inside of Southern Living instead of letting it be Southern Lived-In?

You are not alone. We all have that thing we think we should be striving for. That’s ok as long as you remember to look over your shoulder to see what’s chasing YOU.

Don’t put yourself at risk of getting separated from what’s really important in this small, precious life we have. Pursue your goals. Plan for them, practice for them and achieve them. While you do, every now and then, take a walk break and wait for what’s trying to catch up with you. It may end up making all the difference in how you finish the race.

 

Tara Lynn is a speaker, coach and writer who brings polished, insightful ideas to companies and individuals helping them clarify what makes them great and build the confidence they need to achieve success as they define it. She loves to help professionals find the positions, promotions and personal lives they love by sharing practical tips and tools that get them from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B. 

She is, in fact, running her third half-marathon this spring. The goal? #finishfierce !

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