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I signed up for a half marathon this fall…that I didn’t end up running. I stopped training about halfway in. That wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, especially since I sort of pride myself on “doing hard things.” But it was the right decision for me for several reasons. I actually feel that choosing not to run was the harder, and better decision.

Sometimes we commit to things that we shouldn’t, or commit to things that aren’t the best fit for our needs or our lives at the time. New Years is coming and so many people get enthusiastic about setting goals! Maybe you feel that impulse, maybe you don’t. Either way, as we decide what commitments or “marathons” to take on in our lives, it’s valuable to ask ourselves some questions before saying, “yes!”

What is my “why” for taking on this endeavor?

Especially if it is an intense, time-consuming commitment… Where does it rank on my value list? Why do I value it? What will it add to my life? Will it cost me too much of what I need in my life as I pursue it? That is, will it take a lot of time and energy that I need to put in other places? Do the costs outweigh the payoffs?

Is it my dream?

Referring again to marathons, or in my case ½ marathons, where did this dream come from? I’ve already run one, why do I want to run another? Whether it’s a marathon, or something else, is it something I want for myself? Or is it something someone else wants for me? Or something I think I “should” want because it seems to be on everyone’s bucket list? We don’t need to live other people’s dreams for our lives. And we certainly shouldn’t “should” ourselves into commitments that don’t align with our personal truths! (Yes I double should-ed there).

Do I have any misguided notions about how this commitment will change my identity?

Sometimes people pursue goals in an effort to be more “likeable,” or more “worthy.” Running a marathon, or whatever version of that you pursue, will not change your worth. You are inherently worthy as a living, breathing, human being. When you pursue activities and goals in an effort to be more “worthy,” you are buying into a delusion that your behavior reinforces. What I mean by that is, you will reinforce a belief that your likeability, loveability, acceptability, and worth is contingent on your accomplishments. This is an unhealthy lie. One way to break free from this lie is to stop acting like it’s true. That is, no longer pursue accomplishments with the goal to be more worthy.

Is now the best time to pursue this goal?

Maybe you have a clear “why” you want to “run a marathon.” Maybe it does align with your values and is a personal dream. Maybe this pursuit has nothing to do with worth. But is it a good time in your life to introduce such a demanding goal? Do you have the time and physical and emotional resources to pursue it? Do you have the support you need from family and friends?

Life is demanding. Life presents us with several marathons to run without us adding to them. We have family, friends, careers, education, and so many daily tasks that can require our full attention. How important is it to run this marathon well? Can you be flexible about your expectations? Do you have a specific goal or is it enough to just finish? Will a “5K” or “10K” (insert smaller goal) make you just as satisfied? When we take on “marathons” we need to be sure that the demanding process will be worth our efforts. That it will enhance our lives, enrich our souls, and help us develop in the ways we need. We need to be mindful of our resources or else these “marathons” may deplete us and frustrate us, when we were hoping for the opposite!

 

I believe strongly in setting goals, in challenging myself, in developing myself more fully in life. I also believe in pacing myself, and taking into consideration my needs, resources, and stage of life. Each year I have a personal motto depending on what I believe is my next developmental curve. This year I chose, “Content.” I believe there is value in finding contentment where I am. There is value in slowing down and appreciating my life as it is. Running a half marathon this year would have thrown me out of a balance I’ve worked really hard to achieve, and wasn’t worth that sacrifice.

When we reflect on our responses to the answers above, sometimes the conclusion is: We shouldn’t run the marathons!

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