Small Success And Great Ambition

It was the typical usual morning. Wake up, do some stretching before stumbling out of bed and heading to kitchen for the first of my coffee fix.

Let dogs out, let dogs in, feed dogs, let dogs out.

Grab second cup of coffee and check in to social media world.  Scrolling through I can see who’s been up all night if there are a zillion posts from them ( sleep people, sleep) I keep on scrolling squinting with one eye pasts the political posts and cheesy memes, blandly go through all the advertisements and for sale ads (unless some cute furniture item catches my eye) smile at the usual real life, real people photos, giggle over some posts that make my day already at the still dark thirty hour, and then, sometimes, something comes along that makes me pause and think… like this one..

great ambitions

I read it, then read it again. I kinda just let it breathe over me. There are some posts that strike me like that. They make me pause, reflect, look inside and examine it and then consider it’s impact on me.

The person posting it asked what it meant to the reader and was encouraging feedback. Although it was still early in the morning I let my mind engage and began thinking of what it meant to me, how I perceived it and what my take was on that thought.

I am not the only one I pondered, who has had great ambitions or currently has them.

Of course I believe those are largely dependent on the individual too. I mean, my ambitions might not be as big as someone else’s, but then, mine are quite a bit bigger than others.

If we get lost in the pursuit of our ambitions it might be easy to dismiss the small successes that lead us there, right? We could be so single minded and focused on the “big” thing we are pursuing we could stomp right over small successes and never give them a thought, perhaps even not seeing them as relevant.

In general, I think people can be so focused on hitting the goal, they may miss the important things learned on the journey getting there.

Those small things are what grow us, build us, and shape where we go and who we are along the way. If we are moldable, we learn and that shapes us on our way to the bigger things we pursue.

As I pondered those ideas in the early morning hour I started thinking about how learning to run one mile had led to me running more miles until ultimately, several years later I did a race that had 31.6 miles in it.

It took lots of small successes for me to step out and do a 50K.  It took time building my mileage little by little.

I never took it for granted, the privilege and ability of my body to run.

Small success to me meant overcoming things like a desire to stay in bed when it was dark out and I was getting up to go for my long run. Or leaving when it was cold or wet.  Overcoming myself to do bigger things kept me on the path to those bigger ambitions I had.

Similarly, I thought about last year when I made the commitment and signed up for my first duathlon.  There were so many small successes that led to me ultimately not only doing it, but placing first in my age group too.

After my very first training session that was a bike ride, immediately followed by a run, I wondered what I was doing.

It felt awkward. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles the first half mile. I wondered if I was really going to be able to get this thing down.

I did it again the following week and the week after that. Not always fast, not always the most skilled, but I did it. It then turned into a run/bike/run training session.

And I got stronger, not that the training was easier, I was adapting to it.

Small baby steps all the while I was keeping my eye on the prize, that big thing my overachieving self was pursuing. An ambitious goal for a average middle aged female athlete, competing in the race listed as the toughest in the state.

If there’s anything athletics has taught me, ( well, it’s taught me a lot but….)  it’s taught me to appreciate all those small things that get me to my final goal, the big thing I’m pursuing. Because it takes week after week of those small things to nail the lofty ambitious goals I tend to set for myself.

As I continued to sip from my almost empty coffee cup, I thought of so many other things in my life that if looked at in a separate way, might seem inconsequential, yet again they had a specific place in my life for getting me to that “bigger” thing.

I always want to be pursuing something ambitious, something bigger than life that scares me a little. I don’t want to get so comfortable being “comfortable” that I lose the rush of a new dream or vision or opportunity to challenge myself some more.

But I never want to become complacent and unaware of the small steps, the small victories, and sometimes not noticed successes that lead me to the top, for those things pave the road to my accomplishments.

So I’ll leave the same thought with you, that my friend left with me….

How do you personally define this? Do you relate? Do you ever think of the small things as being important to the “big” thing you pursue? Or do they seem unimportant?

Sacrifice And Success

success and sacrifice

If there are things in life that I find enjoyable ( besides athletic adventures) is coffee and good conversation.

Topics and ideas can abound.  I love creative convos as much as I love the deep intellectual or just plain fun ones.

I love the opportunity to be challenged and encouraged by others. Because it’s others who often see things that I don’t, or see my capabilities when I feel weak or inadequate.

Thus went one conversation the other day with a friend. I have been following her new job interests and was asking her some questions about it. We talked about the timing and time frame of schooling and actually beginning to work the “real” job in a full time manner.

Her take was…. if you’re on the path to where you’re going…. you’ll get there. Basically, just keep doing things that are moving you to your goals/job/dream.

Interesting thought. She knows how much I enjoy being able to help, encourage, motivate and challenge people in the ways of health and fitness.

I shared with her some of my struggles in the process and how in wanting to help people there was one thing I couldn’t deliver, which was to do to the work for them.

Which led to an interesting discussion of the work that’s involved to get anywhere or accomplish anything, whether it’s getting a new job, a degree, losing weight or wanting to train for something.

There is a level of determination that has to be there to make changes, to accomplish new things, to be unwilling to stay where you are.  No one can place that determination in you, it has to be driven from the depths of who you are.

That determination will drive and lead us to success. It’s almost a birth process we have to go through to achieve what we’re after. If someone did it for us we’d miss out on so much of the journey that would shape us  for where we are going.

The journey could be hard. It could make us want to quit, throw in the towel, not push on, but it’s so rewarding when we reach our goals or dreams.

I mentioned that the reason I share and take progress photos is because people who are new to me, or don’t know me, often think I’ve lived in the fitness world and always look like I’ve looked.

When I pull out photos that show me soft and “fluffy” with no muscles that are visible compared to where I am now they can see a journey of progress. Of determination. Of an unwillingness to quit. Of constant, small, daily changes, building new habits and disciplines to get to where I am today.

She assured me this was important for people to see and understand… that they understood it had been a work for me to get where I was at… that it wasn’t something I had always done or simply been “blessed” with.

8 years.

I’ve set goals, hit them, redefined them, crushed them again and kept moving forward. As I’ve gotten stronger on my journey I’ve been able to do more which has led to bigger visions of what I’m capable of.

I think that’s pretty applicable to whatever you have your sights set on.  There has to be a constant assessing and redirecting to get to where you’re going.

But do you want it bad enough to really push for it ? Are you willing to invest the time and energy?

The word we both used  almost at the same time was this: sacrifice.

Anything worth having involves sacrifice. If you’re on a journey to lose weight or get more fit, it will involve a sacrifice of learning to adjust your eating, learning to train yourself to get up and exercise, learning how to make better choices in your lifestyle.

It isn’t easy. It can often feel hard and be daunting.

The road to success in life, whatever, it is, won’t be easy. And maybe in some ways it shouldn’t be.

We often learn so much about ourselves on the journey, through the struggles, through the disapointments and up’s and down’s of what we are pursuing.

We find our strength, we learn our weaknesses. If we’re stubborn and determined we persevere through it and keep our eyes on the prize.

No matter where you are, or what you seek, don’t give up or quit. Small steps towards your goal will ultimately get you to where you are going.

As our conversation wrapped up I was left with these thoughts in my head about achieving success and nailing goals.

Steps to Success….

  • A path. This is the “thing” you want to do.
  • The process. What does it take to get to your “thing”?
  • Determination. ( no excuses)
  • Focus. (single minded)
  • Sacrifice. (This is the biggest. It won’t be easy. You will have to be uncomfortable. Give up things. Make different choices)
  • Achieve goals. ( the sweetness of victory!)

What steps or process have you used to reach your goals ? When you reached your goal did you feel what you invested to get there was worth it?