I Gave Up.

Productivity, Spirituality, Temple Building

So it happened. I gave up.

I run 50 miles a month. I’ve hit the magic number a few times now, but I knew October would be difficult.

October was wonderful and busy and challenging, due in no small part to time in planes, rental cars and hotels. Traveling put a cramp in my otherwise clearly delineated exercise schedule. Treadmills? Yuck. Four a.m. wake up calls to get everything in? Definitely not. I decided to just run my miles whenever I could, and I’d adjust as needed. No ink on the calendar this month. Pencil only. Just in case.

Early on, I accomplished two amazing personal victories, yet I was already behind.

I made it halfway to my goal just after mid October. Yet as I counted the sunrises and tallied the miles, I lamented:

  A few days later:

And at some point I came to believe there were too many miles and not enough days remaining. Tired from the wear and tear of the month, I embraced inflexibility and pessimism. I decided there was nothing more I could do.

I gave up.

And I sat with that for a moment, that spirit of gave up. I realized two things. One, it didn’t suit me just then. Gave up felt like a stranger invading. Unwelcome. What have I been doing all these years, if not training myself for perseverance? Two, it didn’t make sense! It was definitely possible I would not reach my goal, but why in the hell was I giving up the game when there was time left on the clock?

“Even if things don’t unfold the way you expected,
don’t be disheartened or give up.

One who continues to advance will win in the end.”
~Daisaku Ikeda

I had time and determination left. And the only way I’d know if I had enough of either was to keep striving. I erased a few items on my schedule, realizing I was going to have to release the less important ones to keep my primary goal in focus.

Down to 10 miles, I had choices. Stick with my typical four milers and somehow squeeze in a shorter run? Or go for the five-mile barrier I hadn’t challenged in 18 months?

My next time out, I finished four and checked in with myself as I cooled down. I can do one more mile, I thought as I stretched one of my quads. I have the time. I have the energy… Let’s do it!

And out I went, for another mile. I hit five that day. Then, in a moment of inspiration, ran five again the next.

Finished my goal with two days to spare. The goal I was ready to shelve. I finished it. Early. This taught me something…

Sometimes it seems unlikely we’ll meet a goal. And if we’re tired or run down, it’s easy to say it’s not worth the effort to continue. And sometimes, for many reasons, that might honestly be the best choice. But check your gut and your resources first. Because here’s the thing: If the clock hasn’t run out yet, it’s not time to give up.

On accountability partners.

Personal Narrative, Productivity

Do you have an accountability partner?  I do. In fact, I work with groups and individuals to help hold myself accountable to my goals. It’s one of my personal victory strategies, and I talk about it with Ben over at Literature Review HQ.

This link takes you to Ben’s site. There you can play the podcast from his page or download it for later.

Spinning Wheels

Personal Narrative, Productivity

Let’s make big goals.
Every day, be clear about
the task at hand.
Ambiguity and ambivalence
are the cause for spinning one’s
wheels and getting nowhere.
Challenge yourself unremittingly
until you seize victory and success.

~Daisaku Ikeda, Nichiren Buddhist philosopher

Lately, I have not been clear about the tasks at hand. I have neither reviewed, revisited, nor reconsidered my goals, big or otherwise. There are certain tasks I must complete for my job, and those are easy to acknowledge and accomplish. But it’s the personal work I’ve neglected as of late. My writing. My teaching. Healing work.

I’ve let things slide.

The result? Days like today: a day in which I have the time and freedom to delve into pleasing topics, but no sense of joy because I’m rather unfocused. Haphazard. Today felt as though I were driving around in circles. I was obviously moving, but wasn’t really going anywhere.

I’ve talked a bit in recent weeks about what I’ll now call personal victory strategies (PVS). I conceive of them as strategies that work for sure. When you implement them, you are productive and are able to accomplish great things.

For various reasons, we I often engage in a bit of self sabotage. Fully aware of what works, I choose, inexplicably, to turn a blind eye and do something else!  One tried and true PVS is listing. I’ve made lists since I was a kid. In fact, I used them religiously, much to the consternation of my mother who thought I was a bit too obsessive with them.  “Are you okay?” she’d sometimes ask when she saw me brooding over yet another list.

Listing is my favorite PVS.

No one taught me to list. I simply thought of all the things I wanted to do in a given time period (hours, days, weeks, or even years), and I jotted them down. It was natural to me. I always knew exactly what to do, and I could just go do it. I’d cross things out, and when I got about half way through it, I’d rewrite it, revising as needed.

I remind myself of this particular PVS when I feel out of sorts, and after a day like today, it’s definitely time to implement it once again. Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be reviewing, revisiting, reconsidering my 2012 goals. I’ll list specific action items so I can move toward my goals with clarity and focus.

So tell me, what are some of your personal victory strategies?