To Begin is To Win

To Begin is To Win

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I’m obsessed with beginnings. I find them to be powerful and inspiring.

Beginnings carry what I like to think of as “Pilgrim Energy”!

Beginnings are, by nature, about Possibility.

And Possibilities invite Optimism, Hope and Imagination — the three mindsets I love the most.

I’m talking about that effortless stream of vital energy we experience at the dawn of a desire. Think of the beginnings of falling in love, starting a business, or committing to a big mission.

So how do we leverage that Pilgrim Energy towards purposeful action?

One way to do that is to set clear goals.

A clear goal gives us a North Star out in the real world, in addition to, in our minds and hearts, to work towards.

 

I am an avid, albeit wholly average trail runner.

When I first discovered the sport, I was flooded with the Pilgrim Energy that had me pursuing various efforts to run on trails. Soon enough, I started setting the goal of participating in ultramarathon trail races. These races are anything but easy! Not easy in training, not easy on the body, and not easy to finish.

Every year for almost a decade now, my son and I eagerly await an email in September that informs us that The Broken Arrow Skyrace is open for registration. We both enroll immediately so as not to be left out of this adventure we’ve chosen to make our mutual North Star.

 

 

The Pilgrim Energy of the moment of signing up is so powerful, filled with excitement and optimism that we literally don’t think of any obstacles or challenges that may arise! Can we get injured during the training period? Can we make it to the destination in June? Do we even have what it takes to make it to the start line 10 months from now?

We dismiss all possible doubts, sign up for the race and allow dopamine to flood our system.

The moment of excitement inevitably passes, whether a day or a month later, and then I am left with the reality of what it takes to achieve this goal.

I reflect on the years I had signed up but didn’t make it to the start line due to illness or injury, the years I had started but did not finish the race because the weather was enough of an obstacle to have me missing cut-offs, or the year when I just gave up.

I realize that as my favorite race has grown bigger, I have grown older.

I recognize that I’m committed to meeting my changing body where it is, rather than forcing it into a state it’s not ready for.

I sit with the emotions that I would rather not experience. Emotions like fear, regret, and anticipation of disappointment. Emotions that I’m opening myself up to simply by signing up and setting this larger than (my) life goal for myself.

Yes, beginnings are wonderful and carry their own battery pack. But what comes next separates the pros from the amateurs in the Game of Life.

One of my favorite quotes from the Mishnah reminds us, “It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside.”

Starting is a pro habit that every single one of us can cultivate, improve and ultimately master.

 

 

Pros don’t have fewer doubts than the rest of us. What they do have, is the habit of getting to the start line. They’ve learned the top 3 skills required for not failing ahead of time, which are:

  1. Understanding that doubt is a feature, not a bug, in the human system. They continuously practice holding their doubts while putting one foot in front of the other.
  2. Holding space for all of their emotions (especially the negative ones) without velcroing themselves to those emotions.
  3. Trusting their training.

 

This weekend, it will be 365 days since the last Broken Arrow Skyrace. Last year, I supported my son and other athletes from the sidelines because I had an injury that made it impossible for me to start.

I have counted, trained, and prayed for 360 days with deep intention. This Saturday, June 16th at 6.00am, from where I stand, to begin is to win.

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