Today, while making an attempt to get back into a running routine, I had a bit of an epiphany.
I don’t know how the rest of you play mind games with yourself during a workout, but for me, it’s pretty much entirely an exercise of will. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of goal setting, and so, in an attempt to overcome the odds that my mind would convince me that I was actually dying in order to stop running as quickly as possible, Todd and decided to set a goal before we started. We agreed we would run to the end and then walk back. I hadn’t run to the end without stopping for quite a while, so that seemed like a noble goal. I can’t say it was easy, but I was capable of doing it. But, as we approached the end, the turning around point, where our goal would be achieved, the voice in my head started up: you should push harder, go further, what you did is not enough, you’ll never lose weight if you don’t do more, stopping is weak.
But wait! I promised myself that if I made it all the way to the end of the trail without stopping, I would walk back. So, why is what I did suddenly not enough? Why can’t I celebrate the achievement of today’s goal and make a new goal for tomorrow? Isn’t it more likely that I’ll want to come back out here tomorrow if I stop and feel good about the goal that I achieved and set the goal for just a little further out tomorrow than if I keep going and feel like I’ve failed no matter what I’ve done? If there’s never any stopping, if there’s never a point where the goal is achieved and I get to rest as my reward, why would I ever want to go out and do it again? It seems that most of the time I’m a pretty big jerk to myself. And as I thought about it more, I realized that is exactly how I act towards myself in my photography business as well. If I reach a goal, complete a task or finish a project, I never keep my promises to myself that I will rest or get a reward for following through. I just tell myself that what I did is not yet enough, put my head down and keep going.
It’s no wonder the burn-out isn’t going away! First, it’s because we never stop, never allow ourselves real rest- and not the kind where you mindlessly wander the internet pretending to work so that you can tell yourself you’re working but you are actually procrastinating kind of rest- the real deal, step-away-from-the-computer, slow-down- and-be a real-person kind of rest. And, probably even more so, it’s because I’m a con-artist when it comes to myself- promising one thing, and then changing the rules.
We would berate ourselves if we didn’t keep the promises we make to our clients, so why are we so okay with it when we break the promises we make to ourselves?