Have you ever had a great idea?
And then not followed through to implementation?
I might have done that in past. Once or twice 😉
One of those things has been this blog. If you’ve followed along, I have made a few commitments to writing here, and haven’t quite followed through.
Today that is going to change.
It is time to flex my writing muscles and get some practice in, so you are going to get some content now and for the next thirty days. Every single day for thirty days, that is my commitment to myself, and to you, whoever is reading this blog 😉
I will find something interesting or entertaining to write about daily, and I would love your comments or feedback down below – that will help me shape the future direction of this blog.
So, where to begin?
I got to thinking about this today, and I have something for you… and it’s related to this theme of starting and not finishing – so enjoy!
A little while ago I competed in endurance events. I started out with a 10K, which was a haul for an out of shape guy. Up to the half marathon, followed by the marathon. From there I moved back into a teenage obsession of mine – triathlon. Starting small, working on up to the “big one” which was the Ironman. You may have heard of the Ironman – it is a mix of 3.8km of swimming, followed by a 180km bike ride, followed up with a marathon (which is 42.2km of running for the uninitiated).
I don’t need to tell you that an Ironman is physically demanding – that is pretty obvious. If you are pretty fast, that’s ten hours of VERY intense exercise. If you are slow, it’s 16 hours of intense exercise, and it’s gruelling.
I don’t know exactly how to put it all into words, but no matter who you are, when you get to a point in that race, your brain starts asking questions. Questions it should have no business asking.
Now, to be clear, my brain is a bit more active than most. I have a hard time shutting it off, and I have found it’s even harder to shut off when my physical body is giving up the ghost.
Somewhere around ten hours into an Ironman my brain sounds a bit like:
“You probably shouldn’t have skipped those training sessions.”
“You probably shouldn’t have drunk SO much beer the other night.”
“Maybe you should have researched this course.”
(I made a point of never researching courses – not just because I like surprises, but rather the notion that you can be prepared for everything is flawed, and dangerous. You can know the course, but you don’t know what the wind will be like, who or what will be on the course, or whether it will be snowing (yes, I have had that happen).
So what’s the point in planning for “every eventuality” when you cannot possibly know what those eventualities are?
For me, the point was to train, show up, do the thing, go home.
And that’s how I like to do most things in life.
There are no 400 hours of research and planning.
There’s no asking 100 people what they think.
There’s just prepare physically and do.
No, before I go too far down this rabbit hole, there’s a reason I stuck my head down in the hole, and so I will get to it now.
In every endurance sport, there is something called a DNF. For those that have never done any race in their life, that is Did Not Finish.
It’s what shows up in the results, instead of a finish time.
It’s not the thing you want.
That said, I have never DNF’d a race. I am a little like that – persistent. I have also never broken any part of my body in a race, though I have crossed the line bloody, never been so unfortunate as to have to try to figure out how to finish something with a broken ankle, leg, or whatever.
Injured yes, broken, no.
But there’s one worse than a DNF.
That, in my books, is what we call a DNS (technical friends, ignore the actual technical meaning of DNS 😉
If you cannot do the math, that is Did Not Start.
There are a lot of reasons why you might sign up for something and not start it.
I have done this a few times. Not many times, but I have done it.
Of course, the “reasons” can look a lot like the DNF, but unlike the DNF, it’s easier to quit before you start.
And this is why this chapter is here.
In life we have ideas. Thoughts, plans, programs. Whatever it is that you have floating around that is a “good idea.”
But those ideas end up living in the land of “idea only.”
And that’s a sad state of affairs – for you, and for the world.
The question I have for you is this – what are the reasons for you not starting?
I could let you answer, but I already know the answer.
Fear stops us dead in our tracks. What if nobody likes it, or it fails, or whatever?
The reason I relate this idea to the race is that not starting is inexcusable.
And not finishing something you start is an option, but when you’ve got the world watching, you will probably do whatever you can do to get across the finish line.
If you start a marathon, and you have someone waiting for you at the finish line, there’s almost no chance you will leave the course, hop on a bus and head home.
If you have your entire family waiting for you at the finish line, there’s now zero chance that you will be giving up. You will be running across the finish line, or coming across it on a stretcher. Those are the only two options for you.
This part, I believe, is the critical bit.
It is really about accountability. You have made yourself accountable to those people at the finish line, and they are important people.
If you didn’t tell anyone, and you were just committed to going for a 10km run at 6 AM, it wouldn’t matter AT ALL if you gave up halfway, or even stayed in bed.
But, the truth is, you have just let yourself down.
A mentor of mine once said that the probably the worst thing ever invented in the world of accountability was the snooze button. You know – that thing you used to hammer on (back when we had digital clocks to wake us) at 6 AM. Just a little more rest you would tell yourself.
What you didn’t know was that you were starting the day by breaking an agreement with yourself.
You haven’t even gotten out of bed, and you’ve broken your first agreement with the only person that truly matters – yourself.
So the question that remains at the end of this chapter is relatively simple:
How do you get started and then make sure you finish?
In my experience, the best way to get started is to get started. I know it sounds too simple, and it is – just started the darned thing.
And by starting, I do not mean start researching. I mean start DOING something to push you closer to the goal.
Once you have started, I want you to make it public. Let someone know.
Only tell those people that will do two things:
1. Support you and your idea
2. Harass you if you aren’t getting your stuff done
You have a lot of well-meaning friends and family – many who will not see the vision that you see. These people we will refer to as dream stealers.
Do not talk to them about this project. Not even a word.
Now, find someone who can keep you on task, even if it is a paid someone (for instance, a coach). Someone who will listen, not judge, and most importantly encourage you across the line.
The goal is to start AND finish this race!
I find sometimes it’s not just fear that prevents me from starting something, but also some kind of scale where I have determined its “not as important” as something else I have going on.
This is OK. You have to weigh all things, but if it's important, start it. Then finish it.