Years ago when I started training for my first half marathon, I was running with a friend who I struggled to keep up with. In between gasps of air, I asked: “How do I get faster?”
His response was: “If you want to run faster, all you have to do is run faster.”
This answer annoyed me. Obviously, if I could just pick up my pace I would, but my problem was maintaining that pace throughout the run. Sensing my dissatisfaction, my friend elaborated.
“I know that seems oversimplified, but it’s not. You just have to keep at it. If what you want is to become a faster runner, every time you go for a run, commit to running a little faster than the last time. If you continue doing that, it’ll get easier. You’ll naturally become a faster runner.”
What he was telling me that morning, is a truth that applies to all of us in any circumstance.
THE ONLY WAY TO BECOME, IS TO DO
People often say to me, “Oh I wish I could run but I’m not a runner.” Of course, they’re not runners. They don’t run! I wasn’t a runner either until my girlfriend asked me to train for a half-marathon with her. All I had to do was put on running shoes, meet her on the street, and propel myself forward one leg at a time. Once the half-marathon was over, I trained for a full marathon and now I run a few miles a week to stay in shape. First I ran, then I became a runner.
For some things, this concept is intuitive. If someone asked you what they had to do to become a lawyer or a doctor, you’d have a simple answer: “Finish your undergraduate studies, attend law school or medical school, take your bar exam or boards and that’s it.”
But most things in life don’t have an exam that declares you that thing. Maybe you’d love to be a writer or a speaker, an artist or an actor, an entrepreneur or an adventurer. Maybe you just wish you were happier or more grateful. But if it doesn’t come naturally to you, then you assume you can’t do it.
Some of us dabble in that thing we’re curious about. We take a writing class or a public speaking class. We read a book on happiness or practicing gratitude and we learn a few things. But taking a class, reading a book, or watching a video still doesn’t make us that thing we wish we could be. Only putting into practice what we’ve learned will change the game.
BEWARE OF YOUR NEED TO COMPARE
There are some people born with talents or gifts that make them exceptional at a certain thing. On Tuesdays, I run at the track with one lady in particular who is an elite runner. Her speed is unbelievable. No matter how consistently I pick up my pace, I can never run as fast as her. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a runner. I can become a faster runner than I was, even if I can’t be faster than she is.
A friend of mine is passionate about acting and theater. He’s not the best singer. His talent doesn’t rise to the standard of being a Broadway performer. And yet, that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing what he loves. He consistently performs at community theater plays. There were some lead roles he dreamed of playing in a few of his favorite plays. But those plays either weren’t being offered, or he didn’t land the role he wanted. He decided to do something about that. He pulled some money together and produced a play himself in a local theater. It was a huge success. He recovered his initial investment and made enough money to produce more plays. Now he can say he is a producer and an actor. He did — and he became. And he never even quit his day job.
This is one reason I always warn against comparing our success against someone else’s yardstick. There may be things that come so naturally to us it feels like breathing. Those are our gifts and talents and we should use them as much as we can. But there are other things we may want to do and don’t have that natural ability. Or there may be areas in our life that we don’t know if we could be good at or not because we’ve never tried them.
If you dream of being a writer — you need to write consistently.
If you dream of being a speaker — you need to speak consistently.
If you wish you were happier — you need to train your brain to think happy thoughts consistently.
If you wish you were more peaceful — you have to practice breathing techniques, meditation, or other calming strategies consistently.
If you want to have a healthy lifestyle — you need to implement healthy food, exercise, and sleep habits in your life consistently.
If you want to be more self-confident — you need to practice positive self-affirmations consistently.
The common denominator to all of it — do it consistently. You must do consistently what you want to become.
Speaking of becoming. I’ve always dreamt of becoming a published author. I began writing 7 years ago in a blog I created called Pile On The Greens. After several years I expanded my topics and continued blogging on my current blog, Carolinedeposada.com/blog.
That made me a writer. It made me a blogger. But it didn’t make me a published author. The only way I could become a published author was to write a book… and publish it.
I am so excited to announce that I’m about to cross the finish line! I’ve written the book and will be self-publishing sometime between November and December. Just like that, I’ll become a published author instead of wishing I were one.
What about you? Do you catch yourself saying “I wish I could…” or “I wish I were…?” then there is something you’re being called to do. You’ll never realize that calling if you don’t start somewhere. So do it. Do it consistently and see where that takes you. Before you know it, you may be something you never thought you could be.