A PR Wasn’t Good Enough

AKA Why are we so hard on ourselves? + Lessons on Failure

On Sunday, I ran the Broad Street run, which is the country’s biggest 10 mile race and kind of a big deal in the City of Brotherly love.

broad st 2
broad st 2

It’s a wonderful race – 10 downwardly sloped miles through the heart of Philly and some diverse neighborhoods.  It was my first long distance race ever back in 2011, so it holds an extra special place in my heart.

This year was my second time running and I had big dreams of cutting close to a minute off of my per mile pace… I know that seems absurd, but my running and recovery has vastly improved since adding Crossfit, T25, and most recently P90X3 into my training routine over the past 18 months. 

My training runs were on target to meet my goal, but about 2 weeks from race day, my training fell apart.  I got distracted, I had competing priorities, it rained a lot, and running just really wasn’t that attractive to me.

Fast forward to race day.

There are about 40,000 runners who run Broad St. (not counting any rogue runners) so it’s PACKED to say the least.  I crossed the starting line probably 25 minutes after the first heat, but I was distracted and I didn’t catch the clock time.  Instead of focusing on my time, I put my phone on airplane mode and decided to focus on the race, my feet on the pavement, the cheers, the change in neighborhoods, and the excitement of the day.

When I finished, I had NO CLUE what my finish time was like.

Of course, I obsessively checked the results page every 5 minutes for it to be posted.

When it finally was, my heart sank.

I had PR’d (set a personal record for the non-runners out there), but only by 32 seconds a mile.  Even though I’d run one of my best races ever, I was disappointed to still be so far from my goal.

Writing that now, I want to smack myself. ONLY by 32 seconds a mile.  It’s absurd. 

Cutting 32 seconds off your pace is INCREDIBLE.  I should have been jumping off the rooftops, but instead I was down in the dumps.

Here’s the thing: I expect a lot from myself, not just with my running, but in every aspect of my life.  So, when I didn’t reach my goal, it was a huge blow to my ego.

I set the bar as high as freaking possible, but sometimes I don’t give myself true freedom to fail.

It really got me thinking… it’s something I see a lot with my clients (and with myself) – not just a fear, but an apprehension, about failing.  It manifests itself in all kinds of different ways – from working around the clock to meet unrealistic deadlines to never actually starting and pretty much everywhere in between.

But, the thing is, failure is a remarkable teacher.  We learn more about ourselves through failure than through any of our successes.

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” –Morihei Ueshiba

This week I learned that I need to consciously practice kindness towards myself, that sometimes the experience is more valuable than hitting a goal, and that all wins (even if they aren’t the wins I want) are worthy of celebration.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from failure?

4 Keys to Having It All

How often do we ask ourselves the question: can I have it all?

Our culture pushes us to work for the high-profile job, the big house, the fancy car, the happy marriage, the 2.5 kids, the golden retriever.  Those things will make us happy... won’t they?

having it all
having it all

If you cut through all the bull shit, having it all can actually be really simple... at the end of the day, it’s about a shift in PERSPECTIVE, not about what you have or don’t have.

Don’t get me wrong – shifting your perspective takes work.  It is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, but the process is simple – there are just 4 keys to having it all.

1. Define what ‘having it all’ means to you. 

Success, in work and in life, looks different for each of us.  What does it look like to you?  Dedicate time to answering this question. 

What will having it all look like? 

What will having it all feel like? 

Where will you be when you have it all? 

Who will be with you? 

Get REALLY clear on your vision of having it all.  Write it out as if you already have it and reflect on it often.  

Lastly, ask yourself how your vision makes you feel?  If it doesn’t get you excited, you’re not being truthful with yourself.  If that’s the case, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

2. Acknowledge that there will always be give and take. 

I’m pretty open about the fact that I think work life balance is bullshit – there is no such thing as balance.  Priorities are in a constant state of flux. 

It’s not all or nothing, but at any given moment in life, something will take priority.  Be OK with that.  Know that some days you’ll work late, some days you’ll need time off for family, some days you’ll be running to happy hour, and some days a romcom will be calling your name. 

3. Set aside time every day to do something you love. 

It is way too easy to get caught up in our to-do lists and in other people’s agendas.  Set aside time, even if just 5 minutes, to do something that makes you smile.  It could be as simple as savoring a delicious cup of tea or rocking out to your new favorite song.  Or it could be more involved – getting lost in a good book, going for a run, getting a massage.  Bottom line: treat yourself well each day.

make you happy
make you happy

4. And the absolute most important key to having it all: be grateful for what you have now.

Gratitude is a really amazing thing.  Gratitude breeds happiness.  Gratitude breeds faith – an expectation that good things fill your life and will continue to fill it each day. 

Practicing gratitude helps us to realize, every day, how much we really do have – you know, all those things we all normally take for granted.

And, if by practicing gratitude, you look frequently, closely, and carefully, you’ll learn you already do have it all.

I Was Scared of a Wooden Box

Let me tell you a story.  It’s a story about a girl and a box.  Sadly, not a shoe box.  Just a plain old wooden box, about 18 inches high.One day, the girl went to a Crossfit class.  The board read WOD: ... something, something... lateral box jumps... something, something.  Eek!  The girl already disliked box jumps, now she had to do them SIDEWAYS?

Well, she put her big girl pants on and jumped like hell (sideways) onto that box.  She did quite well at first, but as her legs grew tired, her jumps grew sketchy. 

And then... she fell. 

Not a graceful type of fall.  More of a straddle-the-box, bruise-all-four-sides-of-your –legs, land-flat-on-your-face kind of fall.   Her eyes were burning with tears; she was fighting hard to hold them back.  In her head, she screamed “Fuck that box!”; in her heart, she was defeated and embarrassed.

She walked away that day terrified of the box and she stayed that way for over a year. 

Sometimes, she’d get it in her head that she was over it.  She’d stand at the foot of a box and she’d think about jumping.  But her feet wouldn’t budge.  Fear’s grip was tight.

That girl was me.

I’m embarrassed to share this story.  I’m even more embarrassed that I was scared of a wooden box for over a year. 

But there’s no rhyme or reason to the things that terrify us.

There’s a happy ending to this story: I jumped on a box this weekend!  15 times to be exact. 

box jumps
box jumps

I beat the shit out of fear.

So, how’d I do it?

First, I made the decision that I was going to jump (literally). 

Second, I gave myself the time and space to do it.  A whole year in fact. I told myself, “I will do f’ing box jumps this year.” (those were my exact words)

Third, I declared it publicly.  I wrote it as a goal on the wall at the gym.   

Fourth, I got fired up.  Sometimes, I’d watch other women at the gym doing box jumps and I’d tell myself, “If she can do it, I can do it.”  Somewhere deep down I knew I could.

Lastly, I got focused.  I turned off all the noise in my head (thanks meditation practice!), I found a spot right up against the wall, I only looked at what was straight in front of me.  And I jumped.  BOOM!  Feet on box.

Clearly, this isn’t really a story about me vs. box jumps.  This is a story about me vs. FEAR. 

It’s a lesson about how fears hold us back from achieving things that we are totally capable of doing. 

I could have jumped on that box a year ago, but my mind was holding me back. What is fear holding you back from?

Are you ready to punch fear in the face?  I dare you to declare your fear in the comments. 

You Need an NBA Team

My friend “Bill” had what he called a basketball team: a harem of 5 women available at his beck and call.  Bill was a bit of a womanizer. I think "Bill" also had a couple of benchwarmers.  Bill was also kind of a dog.

You should have a basketball team, too.

Not the 2:30 am booty call kind.  C’mon, I give you WAY more credit than that. 

You need these 5 people to push you toward living a life you love.  Here’s your starting line-up:

  1. Point Guard: Your point guard DOES NOT get caught down in the weeds with you.  Instead, they’re great at seeing the big picture and visualizing the future.  They help you keep your “eye on the prize”. 
  2. Shooting Guard: Quick on the trigger, your shooting guard hates your indecision.  They push you to keep moving forward by taking shots and course-correcting when necessary.
  3. Small Forward: This little powerhouse is your biggest supporter.  The “man’s best friend” of basketball, the small forward is always by your side and committed to your cause.
  4. Power Forward: The power forward’s motto: “Do what you say you are going to do.”  They make you accountable and what let you forget your goals.  They’re constantly checking your progress and measure your success by the moves you make.
  5. Center: Your center does just that: keeps you centered.  When the shit is hitting the fan, they’re there with you right in the thick of it, reminding you why you’re there in the first place.

Who are these people and where do you find them?  They could be anyone: the girl you see next to you on the treadmill, your boss, your mom, your man, your favorite lifestyle coach (had to!), a writer you totally dig. 

It doesn’t need to be any one you know and you don’t even ever have to tell them they’re playing for you.

Who’s on your team?  Tell me in the comments.


5 Tips for Succeeding at Life (because resolutions suck)

Resolutions suck. For real.

Less than 8% of people actually follow through with resolutions.

Are you surprised?

Me either.

Here’s the thing: resolutions are fleeting.

How about instead of setting resolutions, we just RESOLVE to CREATE LASTING LIFESTYLE CHANGE (or revolt and eat all the jelly beans... whatever.)

new years resolution
new years resolution

Here are 5 of my best tips to always be successful at LIFE, no matter what you’re up to:

1. Be a student

The most successful people I’ve ever met (myself included, of course) seek out opportunities to learn. And not just from their daily experiences, although that’s part of it.

Become an avid reader. Attend a seminar. Take a class. Seek knowledge.

2. Limit distractions

If you’re read my eBook, you know that I think multi-tasking is a joke. It’s old news, folks!

But did you know this: according to a study conducted by Michigan State University, interruptions as short as 3 seconds DOUBLE errors.

So every time you pick up your phone to answer a text, or check in on your Twitter feed, or chat online with a coworker, your potential for success decreases dramatically.

My quick fix suggestions: turn off email notifications, log off of instant messenger, check email and social media on a fixed schedule.

3. Be accountable

We’ve all heard this before – but how often do we actually take action?

Tell someone (ANYONE!) your goals – a spouse, friend, coach, your dog... no, don’t tell your dog... tell someone who has the ability to ask: Hey, have you paid off your credit card bill yet? Have you told your boss that you want to work part-time? Have you started planning your big family vacation?

4. Start where you're at

Let’s get cliche for a second – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And the masterpiece that is you – as wonderful as you already are – wasn’t either. Growth, transformation, success... it’s a PROCESS.

It takes time to get from point A to B (or C or D or L). And no one’s jumping from D straight to L – first you go to E, then F... you get the point.

Meet yourself where you’re at – alphabetically or otherwise. Make the next logical step, from D to E, and move on from there.

5. Be generous

You know what feels GOOD? Being nice to people.

There’s something about sharing what you’ve got goin’ on that really elevates your whole mood, your whole world.

It doesn’t even need to cost anything: send a note, give a phone call, open a door – small gestures of generosity speak volumes and come back in spades.

This week’s challenge: Perform a selfless act of generosity. Tell me what you did and how you FEEL in the comments.

Goals with Soul: Starting 2014 Differently

Have you ever worked hard to accomplish something and then when you get it you just feel ‘blah’? So, then, you rush on to the next thing, thinking that was really what you needed all along... but, still, you feel unsatisfied, like something is missing?

“Constant racing for success creates habitual and unconscious goal-setting. We need to re-learn how to move toward our dreams — with the grace of trust, the grit of devotion, and the thrill of true presence.” -Danielle LaPorte

I often refer to myself as a classic over-achiever and that right there is me to a “T”. Once upon a time, I was pushing to prove myself in a way that caused me to completely lose track of who I was.

  • I got a Master’s degree and a professional license and then left the engineering profession 6 months later.
  • I completed a year of yoga teacher training and then decided I didn’t want to teach yoga.
  • I worked 60- 80 hours a week at a job I was miserable at because I thought I needed a flashy title to be successful.

All the while, I was miserable, disconnected, and drained – NOT how I wanted to feel.

>>> Insert Danielle LaPorte<<<

I have a major girl-crush on Danielle. Her work The Firestarter Sessions literally changed my life. It LIT ME UP, challenged my thoughts on success, and helped me zero in on the life I wanted to live.

In FSS, Danielle introduces the idea of core desired feelings – DECIDING HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL FIRST and then setting your goals around FEELING THAT WAY. FEELING GOOD. Revo-fucking-lutionary.

But it doesn’t end there. Next, Danielle created the Desire Map – a complete system to IDENTIFY and CREATE ACTION around your core desired feelings.

This January, Desire Map bookclubs will meet up all over the world to desire, dream, and create goals with soul. For those in the Philadelphia area, I invite you to join my group (limited to 12 people). For out-of-towners, you can visit this site to find a bookclub near you.

How about starting 2014 differently? "All juice. No push. Feeling good is the goal. Check." -Danielle LaPorte