Creating Finish Lines
The first blast from Coach Taylor’s whistle was the harbinger of doom. The instructions were simple: sprint, and sprint, and sprint; with 100% intensity until the whistle sounded off again, which allowed us to go back to our ‘recovery’ jog (e.g. shuffling our feet across the indoor track). But there was no solace in this gentle strut around the oval. Each athlete had their ears sharply tuned to that whistle: fearing it would sound again while praying that it wouldn’t.
Imagine running a marathon as if you were running a 100 meter dash. At best, you could sustain that pace for a quarter of a mile before blacking out and slamming into the road in front of you. Now imaging the reverse: running a 100 meters race at a marathon’s pace. You couldn’t even beat a middle school child with that strategy.
Now imagine the worst-case scenario: not knowing the distance and direction to the finish line, if that endpoint even exists at all!
Track and Field: The Sport of Known Distance
Usain Bolt wowed the world when he smashed the 100 meter and 200 at the 2008 Olympics in Bejing. I still remember the electric feeling I got while watching his performance, which I’ll remember for decades. How’d he do it? Natural talent obviously played a big part. But that talent was greatly enhanced by years of training from a very young age: constantly improving and perfecting these races of a very definite direction, length, and track conditions.
This moment would not have occured if Usain showed up and the officials decided it would be a 345 meter race, slightly downhill along a sandy beach, at 2 am in the morning. I bet he still would have won, but it wouldn’t have had the same awe factor.
The Intervals within Work, Family, and Life
In a track race, it’s easy to see the destination and one’s distance from it. Life is different. Our goals, hopes, and dreams are much more amorphous. And in the frenetic nature of everyday life, we may even forget where they are, how to get there, or that they even exist! Sometimes we sprint when a long haul is ahead of us. Sometimes we stop when the result is a few steps away.
We lack definition. We lack measurement. We lack a simple X marks the spot of where we want to go and here are some little x’s along the way.
Make Your Own Finish Lines
It’s true: Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I bet at the empire’s peak, there was some tangible result every day. And within that day there were a series of smaller achievements that contributed. And so on down to the most minute actions and decisions. The aqueducts didn’t just happen randomly. They occurred as a result of millions of tiny actions aligned along a grand vision—a finish line.
A helpful tip: make you own finish lines! What is one thing you can do for 30 minutes (or 5 minutes (1 minute?)) to move you one incremental unit closer to some goal/dream/wish. Now plant your finish line 100 meters in front of you and go! And don’t forget to celebrate this achievement. Done enough times, you’ll find yourself many miles closer to your larger goal.
The key is to keep making a new finish line. Never sit. Even if the goal is figuring out what you want, place a finish line in that direction and go!
How do you create finish lines for yourselves? Do you celebrate your victories once a year? Once a month? Every day? Or have you never given yourself recognition for your achievements?
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!