Running regularly is good for you. That is an objective fact, and I don’t think anybody would want to argue that — surprise me and reply to this email with a rebuke. However, there is another perk to running beyond the health benefits of physical activity, the outdoors, and good vitamin D. One that might give you the edge in your career. The opportunity to taste success regularly.
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, you probably have never run to your limits. And if you have, you probably understand how powerful a feeling it is to push yourself one step beyond what you thought was possible for you. That feeling of exhaustion and depletion is accompanied by a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and success that, albeit short-lived, compounds over time and sticks with you.
Running is Good, Full Stop
Now, you don’t have to be a seasoned runner or breaking records to experience this. The act of consistently facing your limit and daring to venture outside of it, even if it is just one simple step, is all that is required. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
And it is that simplicity that makes it powerful because it strips away the mental games and shenanigans our mind recurs to when we dare to do something challenging. You just have to show up and take one step further than yesterday; go for a little longer; be a bit faster. Just show up.
Yes, you could argue that the same logic can be applied to pretty much any practice or activity that is constructive and productive. You could just show up at the desk and write one more paragraph than yesterday or show up at the gym and do one more curl. However, there is space for the brain to find reasons to justify procrastination in any of these. A simple rule of thumb is that the more straightforward the task and the fewer things you have to think about to engage in it, the better.
But what if I don’t like running?
What a lame excuse. Now go out there and don’t come back in until the soles of your lame shoes are spent.
In all seriousness, if running is not your thing, that is fine. There are other simple things you can do to taste that feeling of accomplishment and success regularly. They are not necessarily fun, but they are alternatives.
- Cold showers.
- Other forms of simple exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc.)
What all these have in common is that they give little space for you to be comfortable, they force you to face a limit quickly, and they have simple metrics for improvement. This is key because you want to track how you are improving every day so that the dopamine rush is linked to a number you can work on the next day.
Now, how does all this help my career?
It all comes down to momentum.
The Momentum Wave
When you are coasting in life, moving with the flow, and taking things as they come, it isn’t easy to find consistent energy and motivation to fuel the long, sometimes grueling stretches of work and sacrifices needed to succeed. Drive comes and goes like unpredictable and unreliable waves of impulse and enthusiasm. It’s rarely enough to take you where you want to be.
However, when you are consistently facing your limit in a controlled manner and experience victory over the limitations of your mind, you never run out of motivation and energy. This positive momentum spreads through your life, making you more proactive, open, reliable, productive, and positive towards the world.
Additionally, it teaches you that a lot of power lies beyond your limits once you have surpassed them. No, you’re not going to die if you push yourself a little harder; you are stronger than you think. You can take more than you believe, and that is a powerful lesson we all need to be reminded of regularly.
Now, I don’t want to claim that this is magic or the cure to all your ailments. But there is no question that it will at least help you be in a better position to tackle them.
For me, running has always been my reliable motivator. It has helped me vent my anger, exhaust my doubts, declutter my thoughts, and make space for creativity and purpose. It’s my place of solace and reflection, and I hope you can find something similar to help motivate you too.
Stay safe; Stay well;
Cover photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash