There is something about driving across the country, hitting that first open road surrounded by nothing except for fields and constantly changing landscapes as the road remains straight and narrow. Exciting in the sense that it begins a new adventure and peaceful without the distractions of ‘city-life’.
As a runner, it is the same feel as you round the corner onto a new street and look ahead – seeing a stretch of endless road with the countryside to the left and right. Exhilarating with the surroundings and at one with yourself as you begin to overtake the road.
Using this analogy, we can draw parallels to all of our lives. Every once and a while, we seem to encounter a stretch of pavement, an enduring task with an end that appears to evade being captured. Often times, we begin to focus on the end in sight, and fail to remember the process that is required to get there without increasing the difficulty.
With a focused mind, a positive approach and relentless attitude, the long stretch before our eyes can be conquered without fail. Whether completing a quarterly work project, studying for the GMAT, or even overcoming illness, the only option should be to discover a way to reach your goal without physically and/or mentally breaking down.
I do not have all the answers, but there are a few strategies I have used that have helped make the long road to the end a bit more enjoyable without exhausting myself.
- Running or moving faster doesn’t guarantee a quicker arrival – As tempting as it may be to push the pedal to the floorboard or propel the legs as fast as humanly possible, this isn’t always the most promising route – unless you have prepared months in advance for a challenge of this nature. It’s okay to burst on the occasion, but if the end can’t be seen, then there is no need to prematurely blow out the candle.
- Appreciate the process – I have written on several occasions about understanding the processes involved with reaching your end target. No different here – soak in everything, learn with each step, and use your new-found knowledge to get you to the next farthest point.
- Be prepared to adapt – It’s so easy to become one-directional while focusing on the end point. Amidst the journey, you can expect unforeseen circumstances to cross your path. Be willing to compromise your process and make adjustments without compromising your end focus.
- Break the road into small segments – The end will arrive if you continue to move forward. Make the road there more enjoyable and appear less daunting by dividing your task into segments, or mini-milestones. Celebrate the victories with the completion of one portion before diving head first into another segment.
- Continue to place one foot in front of the other – No one ever said you couldn’t slow down, it just wouldn’t be the most beneficial to stop completely. Place one foot before the other – one step at a time, one day at a time, one task at a time. If you keep moving, then you are making progress. If you are making progress, then you are onward to achieving the end of the road. And, eventually, you will reach your destination.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu
The open road is yours for the taking. It is only daunting by appearance. The reality is that the long road ahead is waiting for each of us at some point in time. Become timid and find another route – an easier path where the end is in sight? Or, become excited and greet the way before us? After all, this road is a mere glimpse of our lives when put into perspective.