At Choose Your Attitude, we believe that small actions and choices make a big difference. They build up over time to create real change that can have a lasting impact on your life and the people around you. Too often, people believe that significant changes happen quickly, but that is rarely the case. In fact, life is much more of a marathon than a sprint. This idiom tells us that life thrives on small moments, and it takes consistent, thoughtful training and decision-making to do it well. On the other hand, a sprint happens in a flash with little time to consider different routes or choices. Since the annual Boston Marathon takes place during the month of April, now is a great time to consider how you can adjust your thinking to run your own marathon.
Invest in your long-term health
Ever wonder why gyms are packed on January 1st and clear out by February 15th? It's not the gym's fault! People became frustrated that they didn't see change quickly enough. When you start a new workout regimen, it is often brought on by a yearning to feel or look different. As a result, you may want to see results right after you begin making changes. Unfortunately, that’s not how big change happens. Instead, you will see slow progress when you invest time and are intentional in your workout choices. It is not only unrealistic to expect immediate results, it flys in the face of your whole goal when it comes to working out. That new workout regimen will need to become a sustainable habit before it can make any kind of real difference for you. We recommend making a few adjustments to your daily activity, give your body time to adjust, and then add more or switch it up. Eventually, your small changes will amount to big results.
Fast, steady money doesn’t exist
If people want the pounds to slip off quickly, they want the cash to roll in even faster. We know that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it allows for certain comforts and ways to make life more relaxing and fun. Instead of expecting a money tree to sprout in your front yard, make some decisions to cut needless spending out of your life. You should also focus on necessary expenditures or investments in either your comfort or financial future.
It can feel like falling into a pit when you invest time, energy, and money into a new business venture. The climb out may feel long and arduous. Still, if you are making financially sound business decisions, you can eventually see your profits increase and your investment produce. So stay with it and understand that time is often the most crucial factor.
Think long term
Our mantra, “life is a marathon rather than a sprint” should bring to mind how long it takes to reach goals. Rather than setting only short-term goals that do not build up into anything longer-term, set your sights on goals that take an extended period of time to accomplish. This may mean that you need to create smaller goals to meet your larger goal incrementally, but make sure you have something you’re planning for in the long term. This will help you ground your decision-making in a purpose that is some distance in the future. As a result, you will feel less inclined to need immediate satisfaction with your goals.
Goals with distant due dates also tend to make the most lasting, long-term change. As you make small changes to reach those goals, you’ll see them build into something much bigger. If you set too many short-term goals, you’re cutting your own promise off at the knees. Have faith that you can do what you set out to do.
Don’t rush success
Breaking habits you’ve held for a long time takes a lot of work and time. Do not expect it to happen quickly or even moderately quickly. If habits were easy to break, children wouldn’t bite their nails, adults wouldn’t smoke, and toddlers wouldn't suck their thumb. Be gentle with yourself as your put some of these ideas in play because the work we recommend here is far from easy. If you attempt to take shortcuts in breaking your habits, you’ll fall back into the same ones you had before but with a deeper connection and even more difficulty of breaking out.
Friendships not followers
One habit people may need to break is an addition to their phone screens. In a time when a follower count feels more significant than actual, human relationships, remember that your follower count is a number. Those relationships you forge over time are where you will find the most long-term joy and comfort. Sure, a spike in followers may be immediately financially beneficial. Still, it probably won’t pan out into a long-term financial gain. When those perks and endorsements fall away, you may find your relationships with real people in absolute chaos. So, instead of focusing on the number game of social media, use it as a way to connect with your people. If that means finding your people over the internet, just make sure the connections are what you focus on rather than the short-term number game.
Be with people
Electronics have changed our world and lives in remarkable and unimaginable ways. They’ve altered our daily lives in positive and negative ways. One of the things we’ve lost through the invention of new electronics and technology is the ability and the desire to be around other people. To run your marathon, spend more time with people rather than staring at the television or phone screen. When you take too much time away from people, you’re going to use those electronics to pass time rather than enjoying people who can bring you joy, love, peace, and happiness. Spending time with technologies is like hitting that fast-forward button to move on to the next part and escape your present moment. This also related back to the idea of being present in the given moment, free of outside distractions. What's one of the best ways to be present? Go to nature.
Nature is healing, nourishing, and stabilizing. It reminds us that there’s more to life than the rat race of our daily life. Want to run a marathon rather than a sprint? Restore your spirit in nature. You’ll quickly find yourself slowing down and noticing life’s small details. It helps you become a more present, intentional person guided by the truth within yourself rather than the quickest way to accomplish goals. There’s no need to take a soul-searching trek in the depth of the wilderness. Instead, get outside and take a walk, enjoy your morning coffee with the birds, or even go outside to play a sport or game. In whatever manner you choose, get outside. See where the adventure takes you. Remarkable things happen when we're open to them.
“Mom, I’m bored.” We have probably all said this in the past. What happened after? You found something to do, and you probably created a way to occupy your time. Moving through life with goals and a plan is obviously beneficial but be sure to leave time to be intentionally bored. Take moments to really breathe in the beauty and curiosity of our existence and purpose. In these moments when you’re bored, you’ll find yourself thinking and doing things that you may not have been able to do before because these moments came from the intentional act of being bored.
Live for each day
When people “live for the weekend,” it means they fight through the work-week to enjoy two days of relaxation before returning to the Monday to Friday work-week grind. Unfortunately, it also means that they do not enjoy what they are doing five days out of their seven-day week. This is tragic and a terrible waste of potential happiness. Rushing through the week for two days leaves you sad most of your life. Instead, invest in changes that will allow you to enjoy the every day rather than counting down the minutes to your retirement. Careers make up such a substantial part of our life; they need to also bring us something that makes those weekdays worth it.
Fail and get back up
In school, we got grades: an A in English, but we talked to much. Maybe a C in math because we never remembered our homework. And most of us failed at least one test in our lives, so many of us probably remember coming home to the consequences of a grade like that. Hopefully, there were motions put in place to enact real change and help us learn how to do better. If that wasn’t your experience, or even if it was, you now have the chance to fail again. When you do, get up, learn your lessons, attack again, and do better with the second round. Marathon runners know that the journey is fraught with failure, twisted ankles, worn-out shoes, and skinned knees. But they keep going. And you do too.
Listen to the wise
Remember another popular mantra: “listen to your elders.” While this may feel like a phrase that dismisses the brilliance of new ideas, its intention is much different. Our elders and those that have traveled the same ground before us have the wisdom and experience we long for as we begin our journies. So rather than dismissing their advice and experience, heed their words. By skipping by these valuable learning opportunities, you’re racing straight by opportunities that may help you in the long run as you run your own marathon. There is zero harm in hearing and absorbing those experiences if they've been where we are now.
Be a child
Next to our elders, children have the next best disposition for us to learn from. Childhood is beautiful. It's full of energy and drive and curiosity. It's a constant effort to answer the question “why?” To most parents, childhood passes by in a cruel sprint. Children grow up and find themselves learning how to slow down their lives again. When we were young, we spent the days with muddy feet, caked in dirt, going inside only when the streetlights came on. We made the most of every moment. To enjoy your marathon, reclaim your childlike spirit. Rekindle your love of the messiness of unexpected journeys and using every moment of the day. Your younger self would love to show you the way back.
Love the journey
In a marathon, you train hard for an event that takes a great deal of time and skill. You don’t train for a marathon for the moment you feel passing the finish line. Indeed, this is enjoyable, but you train for a run a marathon because the journey to accomplish this goal brings your heart joy. As you begin your own journey to slow down, make small changes, set big goals, and break habits, remember that the journey holds the key to your joy.
The Bostom Marathon is renowned for its honor and resilience. One of the pinnacle races of the year, runners from around the world journey to run the course. Boston treasures their marathon for the phenom that it is. But this marathon would be nothing without the strong, incredible runners that qualify and participate every year. We can learn from these remarkable people because their tenacity helps us understand that life is best experienced with patience, resilience, grit, and compassion. We learn that we can try, fail, and learn along the way. Our goals become the long course that we run, and our small changes amount to huge impacts that take time to bloom. More than anything else, we learn that this crazy life we live needs time to breathe. Life is not enjoyable when winded from the sprint.
So, are you ready? Let’s lace up your favorite pair of tennis shoes, fill up your water bottle, and discover your trail. We’re proud of you.