Pace Yourself

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disciplineIn December Zain finished his testing for his first degree black belt.  This test, which is the second one he has done, includes a timed 3 mile run, a 3 mile obstacle course, a fitness exam and 30 minutes of grappling and sparring.  And both times he completed it with flying colors!  But not because it was easy…not even close.  If he had had it his way, he would have quit as a brown belt.  Because the whole thing seemed so hard.  So daunting.  And it was.  And what made him successful was that fact that he paced himself.

Zain is an incredibly genuine and amazingly strong, but he received my athleticism, which is to say he has very little.  He’s an amazing cheerleader and always in for the social, but having a competitive edge and a desire to push himself for a sport, is not his M.O.  And as a parent, I so badly wanted him to succeed, but in the end, I couldn’t do it for him—figuratively and literally!   I wouldn’t have made it a quarter mile!

So we started him on the Couch to 5K plan for running and little by little, he worked up to what he needed, which was a 12 minute mile.  Three times a week for months, he worked closer and closer to his goal—one 12 minute mile at a time.

So the day of the run, he put on his headphones, and he started out with the 20 or so other candidates on the high school track and he ran.  Nearly all completed it before him, but the majority of them ran fast, then walked, stopped for water, begged their parents to let them stop, then tried to out run the next kid to “win”.  And Zain just kept running.  He never stopped, he never went faster, he never went slower, and when he finished, with a minute and a half to spare (for his black belt) he had hardly broken a sweat.

When he ran this past test in November, so many of the other parents stopped him and us to tell him how remarkably he kept his pace—like a machine.  He again, was nowhere near the front of the pack, but he had the best pace.

This is a long story (sorry) to help illustrate how we need to look at the New Year.  It is human nature to look at how we can spring out of the gate with resolutions and the best intentions, but so often we burn out too quickly.  We set our expectations too high—we do too much too quickly and we can’t keep up the pace.  We then begin to walk, we cry to our parents 🙂 and before long we have put the new routines, ideas and intentions aside so that we can still finish the race/year…ending where we started, if not behind.

We also often set these resolutions and intentions based on what we “should” do or doing what everyone else is doing, and not truly based on what we want, what we need, and what we have energy to take on.  Because let’s be honest, breaking an old habit, taking on a new hobby, and/or creating a new habit takes work—a lot of work.  So if we aren’t doing it for the right reasons, then it’s never going to happen.

It’s like me saying that in 2017 I’m going to train to run a marathon.  So many people I know are doing that.  It seems like a really healthy thing to do.  It would be an amazing accomplishment.  But oh yeah…I only run when being chased.  I wouldn’t make it a week, before I would justify myself out of that.


Instead I try to set a theme for the year to use as a filter instead of resolutions.  For my personal life it is to live “the year of Hygge”, the Danish obsession with getting cozy (now that’s something I can stick with).  I have brand new cozy socks already and it’s only January 3rd!  For my work life, I want to “aspire to inspire others”—be it for non-profits for their events, or helping others find the balance in their life—I want to do my little part to light a fire, spark an idea, help someone take the next step!  And if other opportunities or obligations come my way that don’t fit these themes, then I know that they aren’t for me.  At least not now.  They work as my filters.  Because “stuff” will keep coming your way and wanting your attention and you need some method of choosing.  You can’t do it all.

It’s not like these aren’t hard or won’t require work, but I’m driven to do it, I will get a personal reward, or boost and most importantly, they don’t require lacing up sneakers at o’ dark hundred on a below freezing day.  Just saying.


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