Where will you be in five years?
You will be somewhere. Alive or dead, in five years you will be somewhere. Hopefully, you will be alive, and then the question becomes; will your destination be a well-designed destination, or will it have no design at all?
Today. You are at a crossroads. Crossroads are powerful things; they are religious and full of meaning. They are spiritual and can signify calamity, uncertainty, and risk but they can also signify choice, freedom, and hope. And today – you are at a crossroads.
You have a choice to make.
Just by showing up today, you have made a choice. You did something today you’ve never done before and that led you here, to this new place with these new people. That’s not easy. It’s not as comfortable as many other things you could probably think of. I imagine eating ice-cream and watching Netflix might feel more comfortable than this. I imagine doing some quasi-work to excuse myself from not doing what I said I was going to do might feel better than this in the short-run. I imagine there are worse places I could have chosen too, but I made a choice – I came to the crossroads and I made a choice to be right here, with you all.
And you made that same choice so here you all are.
You will encounter many crossroads along the way, and this might surprise you but, whatever direction you decide to take when you get to that point, you will always end up at some version of yourself – in five years, no matter which way you turn. It is inevitable.
The version of yourself that you will encounter in five years will be the result of the direction you went when you made the choices you made today, and the choices you will make tomorrow. The YOU! that you will discover in five years will be the result of all the excuses and justifications or the sum of all the hard-work and hard-choices you made to get there.
This program really is that important. You really are that important. The stakes are high, and you have some hard choices to make if you really want to be the best version of yourself; Destination YOU!
My life is actually pretty awesome. I don’t always feel that way, but when I stop and really think about it, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve always had a sense that I was going to do great things and, I don’t think I’m alone in this. As I get older, the idea that I’m going to be remarkable, in any specific and tangible way, grows more and more distant; ever more remote. It might even be a kind of hubris, but entirely human all the same.
“We all think we’re going to be great. And we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met.” Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy
I want to say real quick too, that I actually like myself. At least, most of the time, even when I mess up, I’m learning to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously.. not all the time, anyway. What I’m trying to say here is that I can say nice things about myself without thinking too hard about it – and for some people, that’s a big accomplishment.
I’m not perfect. I haven’t reached some special state that has elevated me above the masses. I’m not really all that special, after all. I’m just a guy who has some ‘yes’s’ under his belt. And, at the same time, I’m just a guy who still hasn’t let go of all the NO’s!
There are a lot of NO’s.
My big think is that I’m afraid. I’m afraid to interview with ‘important people’ so I say no. I’m afraid to climb out on that rock with my friends, so I say no. I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think they’ll take me seriously, so I say no. I’m afraid to sign up for that race because I’ve never run that far, so I say no. I’m afraid of working out that hard so I can get to Boston, no.
So I was going to write this blog about all the NO’s, and sure, they exist BUT.. I’m not really feeling the “No’s” right now. I can think of yes’s for every no, right now. Right now I know that the road to greatness is mundane, persistent and consistent action; never giving up, letting go of the things that are hurting you, and being your own champion.
If I DID want to wallow in my miseries, then I’m sure I could look back and see a series of fear-laden “No’s”. No to myself, no to offers and invitations from others, no to flights of fancy that weren’t so flighty after all.
I want to do amazing things, when I don’t have time. Planning. Tomorrow. Later. Future-tense. I will get this cleaned up, weed-whack the yard, wake up early and run. I’ll finish making the brochures, design a booklet, work on a project, search for caterers.
Starting next week, I’m off carbs! Going to sit down and write up a schedule for home-gym workouts. It’s going to be life-changing. It will be amazing.
Someday, I’ll call the library and see about reading to little kids. That would be fun. I’ll raise money to fight cancer.
But right now, I’m at work and I don’t have time. Worse, I won’t feel like doing anything when I do have time. I’ll buffer with alcohol, entertainment, food.. anything to while away the hours so I can go to sleep too late, dehydrated.
Still dreaming about what I will do, tomorrow.
By the way, this isn’t going to be a guilt-trip kind of blog. If you’re braced for a verbal/written tongue-lashing, you might be disappointed. It isn’t that we don’t need a kick in the pants sometimes, but that’s not my job here – that’s your job. But you have another job too, and that’s what I want to talk about today.
We all have this script in our heads of ‘how things should be’. In running races from 5k’s all the way up to ultras, we have this undefined image of how the race ‘should’ go. Of course, things never quite turn out the way we plan though, do they? We go out too fast, the weather is awful, our knee is bothering us on race day, we trip somewhere along the way or take a wrong turn, we can’t quite seem to dig ourselves out of a recursive negativity. All these things and more can happen in races, they can happen to our plans, and they can happen in life.
Not only can they happen.. we all know, they will happen.
So something happens and our plans get wrecked. We can’t make it to a meeting we wanted to go to, we can’t find the will to leave an aid station and continue on our journey or race, we can’t figure out how to write a proposal or create a strong elevator pitch for an idea that’s been knocking around forever. But at that point, it stops being about that thing, whatever it is, and starts being about you. Who you are. How will you handle this setback, defeat or failure. What will you DO, now?
And the funny thing is, it was ALWAYS about you, the whole time.
When those curveballs come, you need to find the original script – “So those plans got smashed.. what gives me the best chances of moving forward?”. That’s how you show up, even when you couldn’t “show up”. You brush yourself off, you take on this new challenge of forgiving yourself, accepting it for what it is and nothing more, and you let go of that self-abusive, useless and even damaging thought process.
Letting failure tear you down is the worst two-for-one deal you could ever take – but you don’t have to!
“The thing that I love the most”
Emily, aka “RobotLeggs”
I recently came across an article entitled, I Hate Running, which resonated with me on a level I didn’t expect it to. It inspired me to further examine what I also love and hate about the thing that I love the most: running.
It really is a relationship in and of itself. Running is a thing or a hobby or an obsession or whatever you want to call it, that millions of people have a relationship with. Like most relationships, it has its peaks, valleys, and all the stages in between. If you’re lucky, it gives back what you put in. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s damn hard. Some days, reality matches your hopes and expectations. Some days, you want to quit before you even start. Running, for me, encapsulates how I want to approach life – by really being alive and experiencing, accepting, and appreciating it for what it is each day, whether it presents itself through love or hate.
Sometimes, thoughts and feelings of love and hate flow through my body simultaneously, as if they’re in an epic battle to see whether the other will back down and give up. Those are the most defining moments, those moments when you’re right on the edge of your physical, emotional, and mental pain threshold… and you want to quit. But you know that this is where growth happens. This is when all your best – or your worst – qualities surface: either your perseverance, courage and grit; or your fear, lack of confidence, and self-deprecating monologues. As it is in running, it is in life.
Thank you, Emily for this great blog. You really capture the way I feel about running and how, just as in life, it can be simultaneously challenging and totally rewarding.