If you told me last year that I would be running a half marathon on October 7, 2012 in Washington DC, I would have told you that you were crazy! Words like “I can’t, I will never be, I am just not that person” were commonplace in my vocabulary. Pity, really, when I know from experience, when I really want something I can make it happen. The only thing that stops me 99% of the time is ME.
So, it all began when my old supervisor taught a lesson one night in group. If you check out my blog from November 29, 2011, entitled “Change…clear, specific and appealing“, all this will make a bit more sense. I have, for as long as I remember had an unhealthy relationship with food, my weight and my body. I subscribed to the fact that I would “always” be overweight because I like to eat..as though change were impossible.
After my Supervisor’s lesson in group last year, probably around June, something looked different in that picture. He taught it another time a couple of months later and it really started making sense. So, I had to ask him to use my “problem” and guide me in the appropriate language to clear up the foggy messages I was sending to my brain.
See, I was saying I wanted to “lose weight” and “eat less”, but all my brain heard was weight and eat. The brain doesn’t understand negations, so you have to be very clear in what you want, whatever the goal, outcome, or result you are looking for. So, instead he instructed me to be clear without negations. He asked what I wanted my outcome to be. I said, I would love to run a marathon. He said, “Okay, how about lighter and more agile?” It immediately fit. When I am lighter and more agile, it will be easier for me to run a long distance. Next, it is about being specific. So, we came up with “I run a marathon.” Finally, how did we make it appealing to my brain? I see myself at the finish line, I have completed the marathon, I have a huge smile, and I feel happy, excited and proud of my accomplishment. My body feels good. Strong. And more agile.
That is when the work started, in those conversations with him, almost a year ago. So, fast forward to today. My husband and I moved to DC in January where running is a popular activity. I met someone at work who is an avid marathoner. They gave me a training calendar, offered a few tips, and recommended a running store. I did a little research, found a half marathon (gotta crawl before you walk), and began little by little to run.
Now, please understand, never in a million years would I have chosen to start running. I was the girl who attempted running with her husband and acted more like a 2-year-old with a temper tantrum than an educated adult. I was all, “I can’t, it’s too hard, it hurts, blah, blah, blah.” Looking back I can see why he was so annoyed with me. The only thing holding me back was me. I said, I can’t – so I couldn’t, it’s too hard – so it was, it hurts – so it did. I gave up before I even began! Yesterday, I ran 12 miles! 12.2 miles? Me? 12.2 miles! Yep! And this weekend 13.1 for my very first half-marathon! I cleared up the foggy messages in my brain, I set out to run a half-marathon, become lighter and more agile, stronger, proud of myself and my accomplishments, and what-do-you-know? I am doing it.
The lesson here about life is that large tasks work best when completed in small bites. If I had set out to begin running 13.1 miles that first week, it would have been impossible and I would have thrown in the towel. Instead, I did the research, came up with a plan, gathered the appropriate supplies (running shoes – super important!), and increased my miles each week. There were weeks when I got off track, but I still had my eye on the prize. My brain is on a mission, it has a destination. And this Sunday, those 13.1 miles are going down!
When working with clients, they may have tasks or situations that seem overwhelming. They may not be sure of where to even start. If we encourage them to start with the outcome, then work to the solution in small steps by using this strategy – clear, specific and appealing, big problems become manageable tasks. For example, I had a client who had a sizeable debt to repay, working 2 jobs, having car problems and was saving money to move out of the shelter. We worked a budget. We looked at the small to the large. What is most important? Keeping the car, right? Keep the car – keep the job. So, we worked a way to repair the car, so her jobs would not be affected. Next she portioned a part of her check for student loans, for savings to move and allowed a small part for her to have fun. There has to be some reward in all that hard work. When she looked at the whole picture, she became overwhelmed, “how will I ever pay it all? I am going to be here forever!” After we were clear about her outcome – live independently. She could focus on small tasks to get closer to that goal. How was she specific? I will find one job that pays well enough to cover debt and expenses to live in my own place. How did she make it appealing? She envisioned herself at her home, inviting her mother for dinner, entertaining friends, feeling safe, secure and happy.
To think, what we could miss if we allow limits that only exist in our minds to hold us back from the sweetness of accomplishing the extraordinary! We all have something extraordinary brewing under the surface. Find clarity to bring your extraordinary!