Start and Win the Race to Your Goal

Start and Win the Race to Your Goal

As a recent assignment for a health & fitness class, I had to participate in a 5K walk or run. The last time I did a 5K, I lived in South Africa (a climate much more temperate than this hot, Louisiana summer) and I was nearly 10 years younger! But I knew that I needed the grade, so I recruited my daughter, and off we went.

When I arrived, I saw lots of healthy-looking people, dressed athletically, and doing their stretching – looking like they must run a 5K every weekend! Immediately, I started to feel a bit of intimidation about how I would look as an “obviously less in-shape and less-experienced” participant. Before my mind went too far off, I heard them calling for runner and walkers to line up.

Don’t let what external things “look like” deter you from preparing yourself to GO! When your thoughts begin to take you down the “but I don’t have” or “I’m not (this or that)” paths, listen for the voice of the “referee” (whether that is your faith, your goals or a human supporter). Allow that voice to call you back to attention, so that you can ready yourself for the beginning (or next leg) of your race.

The race started, and of course, the runners took off! I was at the back (as a walker), and my start didn’t seem too bad until I began to feel tightness in my calves – because I hadn’t stretched. I had started the race a bit before I was fully prepared. But I kept walking because (1) I hoped that if I kept walking, they’d stretch on their own, and (2) I had too much pride. If I am honest, I wasn’t going to be the “drop out” of a community 5K!

It’s often best to BEGIN, even if you are a bit less prepared than you’d like! Honestly, we will never be fully prepared to launch out toward your dreams and goals. If you had everything they required, you would have moved on to something else, right? Even if there are slight aches and pains (lessons or losses) along the way, having started the journey, you at least have momentum on your side. And a little momentum can go a long way. Having started, pride can sometimes serve as a great tool to keep you “in the game.”

As the race went on my daughter started to run (which I was not going to do) so the gap between me and everyone else widened, as we reached the halfway mark. By this time, I was sweating and praying the incline of the bridge we were crossing didn’t “take me out.” I noticed that I had gained a personal “police escort,” as I was alone at the end of the pack. I entertained myself and the officer by making jokes about helping him accrue overtime hours! My other big realization was that what I thought was the “halfway mark” was actually the 1 mile (of 3) mark! But I kept moving.

Plans change, obstacles come, and people separate from us.  Find the lesson or the laugh – and keep moving! It does not matter that some people separate from you as you begin to pursue your goal; they may have goals of their own to pursue. It does not matter that there will sometimes be hills you did not anticipate, or benchmarks you miss. In the end, what IS important is that you stay in forward motion toward to goals you set. Just keep moving.

Although I didn’t like the look being so far behind the pack (there were times I could see no one, ahead of me!), I was resolved to finish the race. I knew that I needed the credit (for class). So, I stayed in motion at a pace that worked for me – not too challenging on my body and breathing, but one I could sustain long enough to cross the finish line. As the “checkpoints” closed down and packed up after I passed, I realize the race must be over for many people.  But my race was still in full swing.

Pace yourself, and stay present in your “race,” remembering your goal and purpose. Sure, some people will do it faster – graduate college, start their business or ministry, lose weight, get married, or reach a certain income mark. What matters in your race, is the reason you started it. Success will come at the speed it needs to come for you. You can sprint at the start, and burn out; or you can move at a pace you can sustain. What good is the start, if you don’t set yourself up to finish? Pacing is key to enduring. Give little attention to the people ahead of you or the things behind you. Your full presence on your now will help sustain your momentum.

Alas, I turned a corner and saw the finish line ahead! I could see people who had finished the race – already enjoying refreshments and dancing to the celebratory music. Oh, I couldn’t wait to join that bunch! As I did my last several hundred feet, the entire race flashed before me. I had covered these same grounds, walking the other direction, when I first noticed the pain in my calves. And now, I was closing in on the goal. As I approached, I saw my daughter waiting for me on the other side – she looked so relaxed (like she’d finished an hour ago!), and she looked proud. Having her there to welcome me “home” magnified the joy I felt nearing the finish line.

As you near the goal, allow those who have finished before you to inspire you to keep going; and remember the inspiration that you are to those whose voices prompted you to start. I finished. By the time I did, the timers had been put away (so my time wasn’t clocked) and the party was in full swing. I was inspired by the colorful, glistening bottles of Powerade and the plates of jambalaya people were munching on. (Hey, it’s Louisiana – jambalaya is good for every occasion!)

Know that once you reach the goal, you join the ranks of the successful; and regardless of how long you take to get there, your celebration and reward will meet you! It was a great feeling to know that the same people who could have seemed a bit intimidating as we started the race, welcomed me into the dancing, food and music. I took celebratory pictures with my daughter, enjoyed refreshments, and received the rewards bestowed upon the finishers. A great time was had by all. I earned my class credit, and I had the satisfaction and pride of not just starting, but finishing.

It didn’t matter that I’d finished last.


What about you?

Who (or what) calls out to you to begin, or keep moving, toward your goal? How do you deal with obstacles that arise? How does it feel to cross the “finish line?” What are you working toward now?

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Gratitude – The Blessing Amplifier

Gratitude – The Blessing Amplifier

I am blessed. I am grateful. My life gets better every day.

Over the years, I have come to realize that despite whatever challenges I may have faced, there were always people experiencing things far worse.  That perspective has come to be a regular part of my being. When one of my daughters is sick, I remind myself that there are parents with children suffering life-shifting conditions. When I am frustrated with my job situation, I remind myself that there are many without jobs who are praying for the means to take care of their families.

Regardless of what challenges are happening in my life, I realize that my days are filled with endless blessings; and that they increase when I take the time to acknowledge them. I’ve learned that when I consciously make note of the things that I am grateful for, I am rewarded with a positive mindset that lasts all day, and becomes an amplifier of blessings I may sometimes take for granted.

Acknowledging the love and support of family and friends gives me confidence to push through challenges. The blessing of family is a gift that I give thanks for each day. Who, after all, is there to support me in my lowest, and to cheer for me as I elevate (whether it be spiritually, financially, professionally or otherwise)? Knowing that I have their encouragement and guidance nudges me forward. It helps to know that there are people who believe in me when sometimes I question myself.

Helping others allows me to focus on being grateful for what I have. I strive to notice opportunities to help others. It is a blessing to be in a position to impact someone else’s life. I am grateful for that. When I see how much of a difference my help makes, I am reminded me that even the smallest blessings are worth being thankful for. It causes me to remember times when others sow seeds of service into my life.

Knowing my purpose allows me to make the most of my time, energy and talents. This is a blessing that is often overlooked. Because accomplishing it often requires much work, it is important to daily express my gratitude for the gift of purpose.  Every day, I make note of how thankful I am for this knowledge.

Today, my mindset is increasingly positive because I focus on the good things in life. Making a conscious effort to note my gratitude for the blessings in my life exposes how many more blessings I sometimes take for granted.


What about you?

What are some of the blessings that are less obvious in your life? How does taking note of your blessings help in your ability to see others that you may take for granted? What do you do to keep yourself in a gratitude mindset? Who are the people in your life who support you in good and bad times, and how do you communicate your gratitude to and for them

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