Tag Archives: perseverance

Not resolutions again!?!

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. 

First of all, I think you can make changes at any point during the year.  I have a preference for making resolutions on my birthday or after I come back from my summer holidays, but everyone should find what works best for them and not succumb to an artificial pressure related to some random calendar New Year. 

Secondly, I have seen far too many people wish to start the year all squeaky-clean and virtuous, then fail at the first hurdle.  January is just too depressing and dark in this part of the world to keep the momentum going.  And then the snowfall which brought the UK to a standstill!  My running friends had made resolutions to stick to a rigorous schedule, but could not go out because of the snow and ice.  My weight-loss resolution friends found that they were raiding their freezers and cupboards for whatever was available, never mind the calories, as they couldn’t drive to the shops.  Meanwhile, I was stuck in the house with one lively chicken-poxed little boy and a slightly older, bored schoolboy, so instead of using my creativity for work, I used it to think up new games and art projects to keep the two amused and off each other’s throats.

Now that the snow is turning to slush and we all have time to breathe again until the next snowfall, I actually realise that I have learnt a valuable lesson about resolutions.  Namely:  There’s always next week.  Not in the sense of never getting started, always postponing what you know you should be doing.  Rather, it means that if you do get started and then things don’t go according to plan, you shouldn’t give up.  You shouldn’t think you have failed and stop doing things until the perfect circumstances come along.  Circumstances have an annoying habit of always being rather less than perfect.  Just go with the flow, and then get back to your resolution when you can.  And keep on doing it.  Small tracks in the snow where you went a bit adrift, but don’t sink in the deep snow.  Keep going back to the main path and you’ll get there eventually.

It may not sound like much, it may seem a really obvious lesson to some.  But you know what?  I knew it but I had never really felt it before.  So, resolutions, we are old mates now, not enemies to fear!  And there’s always Chinese New Year for setting some new ones….

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What I talk about when I talk about running

Yes, this is the title of a short book Murakami Haruki published recently, but I will only be referring to it briefly here.  Instead, this is about my personal journey into running and what it has taught me about writing, about perseverance, about life.  I started running about two years ago and have been hooked ever since. 

Well, when I say running, I mean powerwalking initially, to recover from a ski injury.  There we were, living between the Alps and the Jura mountains, and I was in danger of missing a second season of skiing (my favourite sport) because of a persistent niggle in my ligaments.  Physiotherapy, gentle swimming, MRI scans and countless visits to the doctor hadn’t provided any relief.  So I decided to start building muscle around my knee so that I would be able to ski come the winter season.  And because I never do things by halfs, I also decided to sign up for the Edinburgh Moonwalk in June 2008, so that I would have a goal to work towards.

After a couple of months of powerwalking, I realised that with two small children I did not have the time necessary to train for long-distance walking, so I started running.  Yes, I picked the wrong time of year – snow and ice and short, dark days.  Yes, I suffered the consequences at the Moonwalk (which I completed in 6.5 hours, hurrah!), because you use slightly different muscles for running and walking, so boy, was I sore afterwards!  But I enjoyed running so much, that I have been doing it 3-4 times every week since.  Several races and medals later (hint to the uninitiated and to my kids:   you get a medal for completing a race, not for winning it!), I have a new favourite sport and my life has been changed forever. *(see footnote)

So what are the lessons from running that Murakami mentions in his book and which I feel also apply to me?

1. Don’t compete against others, only against yourself.

I’m not interested in being better than others. I am just keen to constantly learn new things and improve myself.  It’s all to easy to blame others for your lack of success, but the real enemy lies within: procrastination, laziness, no focus…

2. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Things happen, life is unfair, plan A bites the dust, change will occur with or without us – it’s how we choose to respond to events that makes all the difference.

3. Muscles are hard to get and easy to lose.

Our brain, our creativity, our achievements, our relationships with clients, our brand, our reputation – everything takes so long to build and to get right, and it can all be lost in just a few thoughtless seconds.

4. I have only a few reasons to keep on running and a truckload of them to quit.  All I can do is keep those few reasons finely polished.

It’s much easier to NOT do things than to take action.  It’s much easier to find excuses as to why you can’t do things than to find reasons to do them.  Yes, it’s easier to motivate yourself when you feel passionate about something, but even so you need to dig deep to find motivation every single day.

5.  You’ve done everything you need to do.

It’s too late to start training for a race the day before, or even the week before.  It’s also pointless to worry about all the things you have or haven’t done.  Enjoy the race, enjoy life, enjoy your big moment in the limelight when you are presenting…  you have done your very best to prepare, now is the time to reap the rewards.

 

* OK, skiing is more exciting, but also more expensive and difficult to do all year round.

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