My friend sent me a Facebook message reading, “Happy Anniversary!” I wasn’t sure what he meant, I thought he must be thinking of someone else. Then, I looked at the photo in the message. It was me, crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, one year ago. This past Monday thousands of runners did the same. It’s the pinnacle of marathons. It’s one of the few races you have to qualify for, which means you have to train hard and run fast. Most people will never run the Boston Marathon, it will be some weird thing that “those crazy runners” do. Well, I’m one of those crazy runners. And I’ll tell you, that particular event was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
I set my goal to run the Boston Marathon about 10-12 years ago and simply never got around to it. Then the bombing happened in 2013 and I vowed to train, qualify and run, in honor of those who were hurt and killed. I wanted to run to show support for a sport that is so dear to my heart.
I trained, I qualified and I ran! It was an incredible experience that words cannot explain. To be in the midst of 36,000 runners and over a million spectators all standing up for freedom is something I will never forget. And to have one of my dearest friends and my wife supporting me along the way made it so much sweeter. It was, by far, the most amazing event I’ve ever been a part of. But now what? Where do I go from there?
When you find something you love, you want to do it more and more. I’ve learned that some of us lack things that we love. I encourage you to search. Search high and low! Life is made up of experiences and if you are too busy trying to make money and buy things, you’re bound to continue filling an empty hole that will not give back what you put in.
Start setting experiential goals. When you set a goal that is a physical event, for instance, you have to train for it. It doesn’t have to be a running race, it can be a century ride or a hike to the top of Kilimanjaro. If you’re not willing to go that big, then something smaller and closer to home. A 5k, a 10k, or an active vacation with the family are great places to start. Your imagination is your limit. I have a friend decide he wanted to get into trapeze in his late 40’s. It was something that kept him interested. He got a bit banged up, but he loved it. It was a new beginning.
That’s what I want you to do. Think of something super cool that will be a challenge. Something that you’ll have to train for. Rowing, cycling, hiking, running, triathlon, paddling, or anything else you can think of. Find a race or a ride. I’m not saying you need to be competitive, I’m saying you have to participate. Find something the whole family can participate in. Life is flying by and if we don’t jump in the mud now it’s going to be too late!
After you’ve taken my advice and you’ve experienced one of the great adventures life has to offer you may find yourself a bit depressed. The post event depression is bound to happen, but remember, life isn’t always about those big events. It’s about the lessons learned along the way. It’s about the commitment, and the struggle, and the overcoming. It’s about achieving and feeling that sense of accomplishment at the top of the mountain. It’s important to stay present and enjoy the moments along the way. We also must take time to reflect. Like Dr. Seuss said in his great book Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.”
Life isn’t perfect, but when you’re willing to live it to the fullest you’ll get the most out of it. It will have it’s ups and downs, but if you’re challenging yourself and you’re willing to look inside to examine your life, you will continue to be rewarded by your efforts. Try the following strategic plan for creating a life of abundance:
1. Search for things you love to do and make a list. Start with 3, 5 or 10 things. Preferably outdoors.
2. Set a goal to achieve an event. For instance, if you love to paddle, maybe the river or ocean near you has an annual paddle event for charity. Sign up!
3. Begin your training. Put it in your calendar. Make it part of your life. Make it an “A-list” client.
4. Make sure, during your training, you keep your eye on the prize, which is the experience. Then begin looking at other experiences after that one. Start to create your next event. Your mind will follow once your body is there. You’ll start saying, “well if I can do this, what else can I do?”
5. Give it your best. Don’t worry if you’re not fast or if your form is not great. The point is to participate, not to win.
6. Digest your experience. Give yourself time to reflect. I know, some events don’t always go as planned. Sometimes we’re let down or disappointed. In ourselves or others. We can’t hold it against anyone, this is for us
7. Sign up for another event. And get back in the game!
As for me… I might head back to Boston some day. I have some friends that love it and I might accompany them. I love running in the trails and I love mountain biking. I love experience new trails all around the world. This weekend I’m heading to Zion National Park for the first time for the Ragnar Trail Relay, then in May I’ll be over in Catalina for the Gran Fondo, a mountain bike race around the island. Again, a place I’ve never been. See you on the trails!
Photo Credit: teddymcdonald.com