I have found a renewed sense of energy and effortless motivation for my goals AFTER I push myself beyond the limit.
Here is a story that illustrates this point and tells you how you can reach this sweet spot.
One of my goals this year is to run a half marathon.
Now I know for some of you reading this that distance may not seem like that big a deal, but its big enough for me this year, and I think anyone can relate to the experience I had as I began training.
Part of what Im doing is at the end of a week, I run my longest run and make it at least half mile longer than last weeks longest run. 2 weeks ago, I was doing 4.5 miles on Saturday, which was actually ¾ mile longer than the previous week. And an odd thing happened at EXACTLY the point where I went past my previous weeks distance, the whole experience of running changed. My lungs seemed to open up, it felt as if I lost about 20 pounds and I just started CRUISING.
Running turned from something I had to distract myself from to get through into something really enlivening. It was weird- awesome, but weird. I ended up doing 5 miles and only quit because I was out of time.
That moment stuck with me all week and I couldnt wait for this weeks longest run – 5.5 miles on the schedule. Sure enough, mile 1 was nice, miles 2-4 got progressively more difficult, laboring, and kind of boring. Mile 4-4.9 picked up a little, and then at literally mile 5.01 POW! Same experience, felt a little different this time, but fundamentally the same release of energy that came right when I had reached my previous limit. I did 6 miles and really wished I had given myself more time to keep going.
Living in excellent gives you the motivation to go just a little farther, get just a little better, be a little smarter, it makes us raise the level of what is considered a success. And over time, living that way is what causes breakthroughs. You get that runners high, but Im (re)learning that you dont get it at mile 1. You get it when youve reached your limit and then you keep going.
I think the reason for this is that to live Excellence requires discipline. You have likely heard us talk about the pain of discipline vs. the pain of regret – how one causes us to grow and one just hurts. Well the great thing about the pain of discipline is that after a short time it actually starts to feel good.
This can happens in lots of areas. Think about the diet kind of sucked for the first few days (or weeks) and then you started to actually crave healthy food. Getting back to the gym made you really sore for the first few trips and then one day you found you could not wait for your workout. There are tons of examples.
So you may be asking, OK, do I now get the three tips for breaking through? Well, I actually have only one on this issue – STAY THE COURSE. Here we are 5 weeks into the business year, and this is one time when it is easy to feel like all the goals you set for this seem either:
B. Like you maybe didnt mean it when you made them, or
C. Far off
This is natural to experience when reality sets in. Mike Tyson once said Sure everyones got a great plan for how theyre gonna win the fight, until they get punched in the nose. So it is what happens AFTER THAT, that really counts.
Wherever you are at with your goals on February 11, 2010 – ahead, behind, or right on track – stay the course. Make the improvements you may need, get the coaching you need, and stay the course. We are just getting to the point where momentum can really kick in. The runners high is a beautiful thing, and it happens when you stay focused, stay on target, and then let just let er rip.
I would love to hear your experiences beyond the limit. Post a comment below.