How Preparing For a New Chapter in Your Life Compares to Preparing For a Marathon

by Val Miller

Change is hard.  One of the things I tell my clients is that sometimes we get stuck on the “treadmill of life”.  Routine, complacency, lack of challenge and “going with the flow”, can all be very comfortable concepts.  They feel safe.  The problem is, this mindset sometimes doesn’t offer us the “spice” which we, as coaches, equate to fulfillment in our lives.  Think of just going through the motions, drifting here and there as if on a wave, but never really planning where you want to go and identifying how you’re going to get there.

There might be several reasons why people feel compelled to get off the treadmill and head out into the fresh air.  Sometimes it’s about fighting boredom.  Sometimes it’s about proving something to themselves or the people around them.  Sometimes it’s because there is a voice which is telling them: “there’s something better than this out there”, “MOVE, GET UP, GO GET IT!!”.  There might be a life changing event that happens and makes people understand that we are not going to be on this earth for a very long time and they need to take advantage of every moment.  And, as I say every morning to my kids, at which point they roll their eyes back: CARPE DIEM!!!

So that day comes when you decide to reach out and challenge yourself and do something that will be hard work but very satisfying.  It’s like a marathon.  It requires lots of energy, changing habits, strength, and determination.  When you cross the finish line, how will you feel?  You might feel exhausted—but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as pride and success.  These are the emotions that make up the “spice” of life.  Buckle up and make your training plan to get you to the finish line!

ALWAYS REMEMBER WHAT YOUR MOTIVATION IS:  The road to accomplishing any goal can have tough times. The PROCESS can and will be tiring. If you identify your MOTIVATION for wanting to achieve this goal in the first place  (changing careers to have more time with your family, for example) it will give you strength to go that extra mile.

BUILD YOUR TOOLKIT: Just as runners invest in top quality sporting gear, spend time investigating and collecting the tools you will need in your journey.  Will you be taking a class?  Or will you be hiring a coach to keep you accountable and challenge you?  Building up a network of people to go to for advice along the way?

START TRAINING EARLY AND GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME:  Sometimes transformation calls for making a radical action.  Be ready for this moment by preparing the people around you.  Let them know you are considering it.  You’ll be surprised how much support and encouragement you’ll get which will help galvanize you.  Your friends and family and colleagues will keep you accountable.  People might be able to point you towards sources of information that might help you on your journey.  A colleague might tell you about a friend they have that works in the industry you are interested in.  If you are in a relationship and you feel stuck, someone might point you towards a support group you might need.  The possibilities are endless.

FUELING UP: Marathon runners call it “hitting the wall”.  In coaching we call it “The Dip.” There may be great intention and good things happening due to the new mindset.  However, there might be a moment when you feel fatigued by the exercise and, at the last stretch, run out of steam.  Organize in advance some “protein shakes,” figuratively speaking.  Reward yourself for your hard work.  Go out and dance if that’s your thing.  Get on your bike and ride for three hours if you need sunshine and wind and exercise.  See a movie with friends.  Make a last minute, unexpected rendezvous with your partner and go to that restaurant you’ve been talking about going to.  Do SOMETHING to raise your energy level and get you excited about your journey.

DON’T FORGET EXERCISE, GOOD NUTRITION AND SLEEP!  You’ll need to be on your toes mentally and physically.  Eat well, get eight hours sleep a night, and be careful of alcohol and drugs which can interfere with your well-being.  Build a workout routine into your schedule.  Make an appointment with yourself in your schedule so you won’t forget.  Send yourself an electronic invite to keep you accountable.

RUN A MINI MARATHON:  Set your sights on something small you can achieve and go for it.  Head for the molehill.  Once you’ve accomplished a few of those you can attack the mountain

REST AND RECOVERY:  After you’ve reached your goal, take a moment by yourself (a walk, sit on a park bench, meditate) to truly process and celebrate your achievement.  You’ve reached a milestone. You deserve all the rewards coming your way.  Create a peaceful mindset in order to receive them.