I know it’s not easy to stay on track with a new program, way of thinking or new creative endeavor. It seems that life wants to derail you and send you back to GO! Sort of like an adult version of Chutes and Ladders. You’re going along just fine, doing all the right things and then BAM, you run into one of those darn chutes and end up right back where you started from. Soooo frustrating. And maybe you get down on yourself for failing….again.

I’ve found that having a few key elements in place really increases the likelihood of success when starting something new. I will use the example of making the decision to run a marathon to illustrate these elements.

1. Make a solid commitment and share that commitment with a few supportive people who will lovingly hold you accountable.
In my case, I committed to run my marathon as a fundraiser for leukemia. The mother of my son’s friend had started running marathons when her 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.  She was my inspiration.

2. Put some skin in the game by making it bigger than you.
I joined the Leukemia Team in Training and received the name of a little girl who I would be running in honor of. I connected with her and her family to let them know I was her designated runner. Then I created a list of potential donors and sent out letters to ask for donations.

3. Get outside your comfort zone.
Running 26.2 miles was definitely outside my comfort zone but I figured with the right training and support I could do that. I had been a casual runner for years and had gradually increased my training to fun half-marathons. What was really uncomfortable for me was asking for monetary donations to support my efforts. But doing that made me feel responsible to the people who’d invested in me! I would not let them, or the little girl I was running in honor of, down.

4. Get the training and support you need.
I joined the Team, got my training schedule and joined in the bi-weekly long runs with the team. Knowing that I had to do groups runs of between 9-20 miles kept me committed to doing my own training during the week. I’m competitive enough not to want to be sucking wind at the back of the pack!

5. Get an accountability buddy.
I am NOT a morning person. But with 3 kids and 2 jobs, the only time I had to train during the week was very early morning. So I enlisted my neighbor, who IS a morning person, to be my running partner. I knew that I would get my butt out of bed and ready to go if I knew Joanne was going to be waiting at the end of my driveway. If it was just me I might have rolled over, pulled up the covers, and told myself I’d go later. Clearly, a bold-faced lie but at 5am I would have believed myself!

6. Adopt the necessary mindset to support your commitment.
Trust me when I say there were days when my body was REALLY sore, that I was tired, that my black toenails were throbbing, that I’d rather have that glass of wine or stay up late watching a movie, but my commitment was great enough that I couldn’t even let myself entertain those thoughts. If I had they would have derailed me. My mind was made up, my mindset set was focused and I was not going to make excuses for not completing what I’d set out to do. I talked myself through many miles of training, like the little engine that could!

7. Make the required lifestyle and environment changes to assure success.
Going to bed earlier, drinking lots of water, changing my diet, drinking less alcohol and adopting a pre- and post-run stretching routine were critical to my success. Saying YES to your goal will require you to say NO to the things that don’t contribute to your success. Decide how to create the environment that will best support your desired outcome.

8. Celebrate your journey along the way to keep yourself committed.
Along with everything I’ve laid out, it’s also important to remember to pat yourself on the back, celebrate small victories along the way and recognize how far you’ve come. I did that at certain milestones in my training such as after running a certain distance, not walking at all during a training run, increasing my pace or getting up an especially big hill. Celebrating your consistent efforts is as important as celebrating the end goal!

These steps are great even if you’re not running a marathon. Put them in place the next time you want to reach a new goal or complete a program and see how it supports you!

We’re not made to go it alone. If I can support you in any way to reach one of your goals or dreams please reach out. I’d be honored to be your guide, mentor and partner!