I hate running. Like really, really do not like it. And yet, it’s pretty much the only consistent exercise that has ever been in my life. Sure, I’ve fallen off the wagon from time to time. Sometimes it’s for years, sometimes it’s a few weeks. But running always seems to find a way back into my life. Running has helped me stay physically fit through high school and college. It helped me discover community and purpose through charity running as a young adult, and it provides a sanity break as I navigate life as a working mother.
This year, because of the pandemic, both my husband and I are working from home. As a result, my insane and solo morning routine of getting 3 kids under 6 out the door on time while ensuring I also look presentable has become so much easier. Without a commute, I now have some time in the morning for me. Re-enter running. The night before I started this new routine, I found myself laying anxiously in bed. I felt questions slowly creep into my brain. What route will I run? Can I even run anymore? How far? Do I even remember how to be by myself? Then came the excitement, the newness. The realization that I get to do something that is just for me. I can think about whatever I want! Listen to that audio book I’ve been meaning to listen to or binge my favorite podcast!
As planned, I was greeted early the next morning by my alarm. I sleepily dusted off and laced up my running shoes and was out the door before I was even awake. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my run. It was shockingly much easier than I thought it would be. I loved this opportunity to start my day on my terms. This feeling lasted for a few days… Then the soreness started to kick in. My knee had some dull pain. The baby was up most of the night. The newness wore off and all I was left with was the promise I made to myself. I had to decide, do I press on even though it’s no longer fun or exciting? Or throw in the towel. My brain can think of at least 25 great reasons why I should say farewell to running once again. I’m grateful to say, I decided to stick with it.
On one of these morning runs recently, I was listening to “Unlocking Us”, Brene Brown’s podcast. One of her latest episodes is called “Brene on Day 2”. In this episode she so perfectly described the experience I was having. What happens when the newness or adrenaline wears off? The decision to press on or quit can forever send our lives hurling down two very different paths, and this very question usually determines success or failure.
Sure, I’m talking about running but how easily is this scenario translated to business? Can you think of a time this has played out for you? We get really excited about a new product, initiative, or idea and then when the newness wears off or we hit an obstacle, we give up. Throw it out and chase the next exciting opportunity. What if we got excited when things got hard, routine or mundane instead? What if we viewed these things simply as a signal that the real work is ahead? It’s easy to start something. It is really, really hard to stay disciplined enough to complete something. We often hear about these companies that are overnight successes. What people do not see is the 10 years of hard, disciplined work to get there.
In a recent Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) Quarterly planning session, our team was discussing a similar theme. We were reminded of the 20 Mile March story from Jim Collins. The gist of the story is that if there are 2 teams setting out to go from San Diego to Maine the team that consistently and without fail marches 20 miles a day will get there first. Compared to the other team that tries to leverage the good days and marches 40 miles when the weather is nice but then is exhausted and needs a week to recover and then hits bad weather and puts them behind further and it takes them much, much longer to arrive in Maine. This methodical march is essentially the work of a Day 2.
Here’s the things that I have found helpful when I am plodding through a Day 2 Experience:
1- Embrace the suck. When the newness wears off and you are left alone with the commitment you made accept that it may feel hard. Don’t fight it. Accept that the work is not social media worthy or even necessarily conversation worthy. Just dig in and get to work.
2- Set yourself up for success. Do small things that make it more likely you will follow through. For me, in my running example, on days I know it’s going to be hard to wake up in the morning I sleep in my running clothes. It makes it so much harder to say no when I’m already dressed and ready. In business, review your week ahead on Sunday night. Time block time during the week before your schedule gets completely booked to work on the most important things for your business.
3- Celebrate the small wins. As Kyle mentioned in last week’s blog. Stop and celebrate the forward progress. Don’t dismiss the small wins while you are chasing your big win. Life is about the journey, not the destination.
4– Develop grit. Life will happen. Kids will not sleep through the night. A global pandemic will smack us all in the face. An injury or illness may even occur. It’s how we respond to all of these things that matter. If you really want to achieve your goal, accept that things will get in your way but see them as opportunities to become even clearer on what you are working to achieve. Use them as moments to motivate you and encourage you to innovate.
What tips would you add?
As we head into the last quarter of 2020, my challenge for you is to commit to Day 2. Commit to the unglamourous, daily discipline of unexciting tasks or routines that will get you to your goals. What daily habits or routines that you can start now that will set you up for the best possible 2021? What will you do when your brain convincingly tries to get you to give up? How will you cultivate resilience to push on? Progress happens in the small daily habits. Strive for 1% better every day. Just think, if you really dug into Day 2, this time next year you’d be 365% better than you are today. Just start putting one foot in front of the other on your daily 20 mile march. Your dream destination is waiting.
Embracing the march,