Monday, August 23, 2010

Today's Lesson: Persistence

A few times a year, I start a running routine. Many times, I couple my new routine with a tighter diet of good carbs and fats, lots of protein, and stricter control over empty calorie consumption.

It usually lasts a couple weeks. Then I fall off the wagon. Again.

About an hour ago, I was sitting on my couch watching re-runs after an eventful day at work. The more-than-usual busy season has begun. It's one of the most exciting times of the year in higher education: preparing to welcome another slew of (hopefully) eager young minds to campus. We get to witness the excitement, anxiety, sadness, joy and awkwardness that comes with suddenly being immersed in a totally new environment. And with this rush of new students on the horizon, we've frantically been preparing to provide a warm and welcoming environment for them. It's exciting. It's exhausting.

When I get home in the evenings, I just want to relax and...not think or do anything. This evening, I was trying to come up with reasons not to run. I've been doing pretty good -- maybe I need to take a night off. I'm really tired, so I probably won't be able to finish the run anyway.

Excuses. And more excuses. I almost talked myself out of it. But then I realized what I doing. I was standing on the back of wagon, ready to fall off again. And just before I did, I put my running shoes on, grabbed my iPod, and walked out the door.

Today was my 17th consecutive day of running. That may not seem like a big deal, but I think it is. This is usually about the time I give up. I decide that it's just not worth the effort, that I can pick it back up any time, and I go back to my old routine. I don't maintain the self-discipline necessary to make habit a new routine. As tired as I am, I'm glad I got my butt off the couch. I proved to myself that I can persist.

I think about all of the times in my life when I've given up. Something got to be too cumbersome, required too much effort, was too difficult, so I just quit. I wonder, not with regret, how many goals have gone unmet, how many challenges have not been overcome. What missed opportunities have I had to use my failures to give me strength for the second go'round. How many times have I missed feeling that sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing through when things get tough, when you're ready to throw in the towel, but at the last moment you decide to get back out on the court and finish the game?

And while it does no good to steep in the "what if's" of the past, I can use my small sense of accomplishment tonight to give me strength for the next crossroad I approach, when I must make the choice between resistance and persistence.

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