I recently had dinner with a group who ran the New York Marathon. They were all first-timers and their experiences varied. It was fun to hear about each unique journey.
One woman told me that by mile 16 she was really struggling but when she came across her children on the side cheering her on, she felt a huge surge of energy. A good friend told me that running across the bridge was the worst part. He described the exhaustion and said that pain at some point was unavoidable. Another chimed in about how brutal it was when he went for his first run following the race. The others could not believe how quickly he was able to rebound and train again.
One thing was clear: it had been excruciating for all of them. No one escaped without physical and mental anguish. Yet they all finished, and there was absolutely no question that they would. There was no way that any of these individuals would have given up. At one point, they simply made a decision. Yes, they trained and bought the right clothes. They fueled their bodies slept well the night before. But ultimately, it was not about any of those tactics. At the end of the day, it was all in their heads: They all decided that they would finish no matter what. Stopping was not an option.
It got me thinking about how powerful our minds are. Our brains can play tricks on us and steer us completely off course. But, our minds can also be our biggest allies, and the key to the achievement of our most ambitious goals.
I love the quiet and do my best work early in the morning, so have been trying to wake up earlier. It’s been tough. Some days I just sleep right through my alarm with no recollection at all of turning it off. And yet, when I had to rise at 3am to catch a flight, I did it, no problem. I got up on time, even though I went to bed too late. I did it because I had to, no matter what.
I am a sugar junkie and have a really hard time staying away from sweets. But when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my third pregnancy and had to abstain from junk food for a full six months, I did it with ease. I had to stay away from candy for the health of my baby. I had to do it, no matter what.
Is there something you have been struggling with? Cracking open that GMAT guide? Losing ten pounds? Saving money for a big trip? Making a difficult phone call? Launching a new career initiative?
Decide right now, that you will do it no matter what. If you really, truly make that decision and don’t give yourself an out, I am confident that it will happen. I may not know you or your circumstances, but I know a few simple truths about life. If you decide you will, you will. No matter what.