On the right course
A few weeks ago, I wrote about quitting my training for a half marathon. I found an expert to help me justify giving up.
“Finishing what you started is a useful course of action only if what you started is worth finishing,” wrote Michael Lewis in New York Times. “Often we can’t know whether the goal is worth finishing until after we’ve been working toward it for a while.”
So, after equivocating for weeks, I deleted the mileage plan from my calendar. And I vowed to replace the torture with activity that brought me joy.
I went back to running when I felt like it.
Fast forward to race day. I completed the full 13.1 miles. It was a bit of a slog, but I knew I was on the right course.
So before quitting something you love—or taking the Interweb’s advice—consider this:
Discipline vs. desire—If you’re holding yourself accountable to the really big things (being truthful, delivering on promises, shipping great work on time), then maybe there’s already enough structure in your life. If you truly desire the things that are healthy and make you whole, you’ll do them without a calendar note.
Muscle memory—If you developed a skill, even long ago, you can probably pick up somewhere near where you left off. Whether it’s a daily practice of writing or running, or deciding to love again, your brain and your body remember how to do that thing. When you begin again, it won’t be from scratch.
Optimal conditions—A sunny day. A downhill course. If you study the market and know your stuff, you can choose the best time and place to try that big thing for which you aren’t quite prepared. Start the book project. Get back on a horse. When you do your part, the universe has your back.
But as I laced up my shoes, I knew none of those things.
I only heard the voice of my 18-year-old son. He hasn’t run a mile since eighth grade PE class, but he’s got all kinds of confidence.
And he believes in me.
“Mom,” he said, “Sometimes you gotta just send it. You’ll be fine.”
So I didn’t really quit. I took a flyer on something that seemed farfetched and dangerous. I did what the kids call a “full send.”
Under the right conditions, this can work in business and on the road.
It even can work for a kid who’s heading off to college. He has no idea how hard it can be, some days, just to put one foot in front of the other.
I had to prove him right.