“Oh, god. Why the hell is everyone taking so freaking long in the damn portapotties?!”
The seemingly-mile-long line of runners snaked around the parking lot, barely moving as we all patiently approached the two only portapotties near the starting line. (Some might have been doing the potty dance while a brave few rushed to semi-covering bushes to do their deed.)
In the background, we were pressured by the announcements of each launch going every 3 minutes. Time ticked down, and those coveted portapotties felt as far away as when I started lining up.
Another woman and I decided to leave the line to become one of those brave souls who sought privacy in a distant area around the corner with more greenery. Others around us thought we were crazy and were reluctant to follow. And to our surprise, we found 4 more portapotties with a significantly shorter line!
Figuring out this whole bathroom situation was not what I expected to worry about at the start of my first half marathon ever. I went from planning to run in the middle of the wave launches to barely catching the last one. My run actually started waaaayyyy before the official start line. The volunteers were hurriedly waving us over to position ourselves before the yellow ribbon they were holding as that signified THE last official launch.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUU… Here goes! I started running faster than I wanted to, but I had to get myself before that moving yellow ribbon.
When I heard the beep of the tracker registering my start, it became official… I am doing a half marathon today, and there is no turning back.
Maneuvering to more challenges ahead
Oh, but that wasn’t all of the hurdles to my start: My watch wasn’t loading my race plan. So I spent the first half mile jogging faster than I wanted pressing buttons and scrolling through options on my new Garmin watch. (Yah, yah, yah. I’ve heard the advice don’t use/try new things while doing a race. I swear I had it figured out prior to the race!)
Once I got my race plan activated, I then faced this constant flow of people passing me. “Ahhhh~ I’m going too slow!” I kept the faster pace worried about being left behind and “failing” already.
My stress levels kept rising… “Kaaaaatttt, this is not working!”
I had to get out of my head and refocus myself.
I shifted the focus back to myself
For the sustainability of my energy and the endurance to get to the finish line, I had to put my blinders on and ignore what everyone else is doing.
I know my goal.
I have a plan set.
All I have to do now is just surrender to the process.
I changed my focus to just taking one step in front of another… with the mantra “slow and steady wins the race.”
I didn’t know the race route by heart nor know what was coming ahead. I just had to trust myself to adapt to the changing circumstances accordingly.
That one shift led to my success
I started calming down. I felt more steady and confident in myself. I continued to celebrate what I had achieved with each mile marker crossed. I was feeling good!
After I reflected upon the race, I realized that one shift and those choices MADE THE DIFFERENCE! I wouldn’t have gotten through the race if I didn’t reroute my focus back to myself.
Other people have their own goals, their own race plans, and their own physical capabilities. They weren’t mine. If I had tried to follow the faster runners, I would’ve pushed my body too hard, which could’ve resulted in unnecessary injuries or prevented me from even finishing. If I had followed the slower runners, I would’ve missed my own goals and felt regret that I could’ve done more.
They are not me. So why was I letting other people’s progress stress me out?
I shouted out “OMG!” as I picked up my own jaw off the floor.
“This is how I should be approaching my business!!” I did it successfully with the race, so why the hell am I not leveraging this same strategy in my business, along with my relationship and life?!
The comparison syndrome has been plaguing me as I felt like I was behind and not doing as well as others because of xyz reasons. It stressed me out that I wasn’t achieving these lofty or arbitrary goals I saw other people do. I kept seeking answers, validations, and goalposts elsewhere because I didn’t trust in my own progress, pace, process, and passion.
How I translated my experience into lessons:
1 – Focus on my own goals
This is my life, and I am inspired by the particular goals I set for myself. I’m not someone else, so why chase after their goals and then get mad at myself when things don’t work out for me?
Whenever comparison syndrome strikes or overthinking overwhelms you, take a deep breath and turn all that external focus back on yourself. Comparing means you’re allowing someone else’s standards to override your own. Overthinking is your mind getting ahead of yourself without substantial proof. Those worries are all just conjectures. They’re not facts, nor your only possibility.
You do you. Leverage others as inspiration to see what’s possible, but avoid getting all hung up on doing it exactly how they did it. Their plan is just a reference point. You have to create your own version of that plan that fits you and what you’re trying to achieve.
2 – Trust the plan and, more importantly, myself
I have to believe in my own plan. I have to trust that I can adapt accordingly based on new situations and data that show up. If I don’t have any of that, I’ll continue to flounder around lost and feeling unsure.
…and none of that inspires action!
A plan is just a starting point. When you craft it, it’s based on who you are right now and what you know at that moment. When you start executing that plan, you will encounter new knowledge and unexpected situations, and learn more about yourself.
I am fascinated by personality tests. I love being able to learn more about my strengths, how I naturally approach things, and what are the things to look out for. It makes me feel less wrong to be who I am because I’m not like the majority of people and I’m not meant to do things like everyone else! It’s like a sigh of relief. It feels like they’re showing me that it’s ok to be my version of me, and helping me build confidence in my own internal trust (aka intuition).
Trust because the alternate option is to doubt, and doubt and worry don’t help solve any problems nor move you toward your goals.
3 – Embrace the detours
Unexpected things will happen. Challenges will be sprinkled along your journey. Just because you’re doing something unplanned, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You never know where your intuition might be leading you, who or what resources you might find, or what you’ll learn that’ll strengthen your foundation to achieve your goals. Just because you can’t see where you’re going right now doesn’t mean the detour is wrong. You never know what you’ll find around the corner (like 4 more portapotties!).
Believe that things happen for a reason, so take each scenario as feedback that you can leverage to decide on your next step.
4 – Enjoy the journey
I am a Bay Area native, and, prior to this, I had never crossed the Golden Gate Bridge without sitting in a moving vehicle. I was blown away by the experience of seeing the sights of San Francisco and Alcatraz Island, being on this globally-recognized icon, and (literally as well) feeling the chills from the wind on my return trip.
We can get so serious about goals and achievements that we lose sight of the journey. (Yes, this is your stop-and-smell-the-roses reminder.) Celebrate your wins… all.. along… the… way.
Wins can come in many forms as milestones, lessons learned, pleasant surprises, meeting the right people at the right time, random conversations that inspire new ideas or actions, any sort of enjoyment or fun, etc.
You know what? Just celebrate everything. Celebration and appreciation of how far you’ve come sweeten your life. Accomplishing your goal is just a check off a list. That moment of accomplishment is fleeting. It’s what you’ve done and who you had to become that are more meaningful and long lasting.
Wow, right? I was pleasantly surprised to learn all this from doing a half marathon race. It was exactly what I needed to help me through the mental obstacles I was putting up for myself lately. It gave me the validation and injection of more confidence and trust in my own progress, pace, process, and passion.
My path has been quite unusual, feeling like it’d been filled with all these twists and turns. But the more I continue on, the more I can see why those decisions have been leading me to where I need to and want to go.
It can feel uncomfortable and uneasy when you can’t fully see the picture…yet, but trust that it’ll all work out for you
…if you’re willing to honor and value where you’re currently at and learn the lessons you need to be who you need to become to have what you’ve always desired.
You never know how and where your next lesson will show up. So keep your mental eye open for those amazing ahas to guide you.
Psst, the featured photo is by Pixabay via pexels