I ran my 99th Parkrun on Saturday! For those that haven’t come across this phenomenon, Parkrun is a free, timed 5km running event which takes place across 540+ locations across the UK (and more across the world) at 9 am every Saturday morning. My next Parkrun will mean that I join the “100 club” and I’ll be rewarded with a lovely t-shirt! The organisers will also mention my achievement before the run, along with others who are reaching 50, 100 or even 250 runs.
As I ran around on Saturday I considered my journey to get to number 99. My first parkrun was in November 2013, nearly 5 years ago. I went along to find out what all the fuss was about and have been going along steadily ever since. It’s a way to keep fit and to push my running fitness in a different way to going for a jog on my own. I’ve been a tourist (visiting different sites around the UK, and even managing to find one in San Francisco), but usually run around the route at York racecourse. When I first started, 100 runs seemed a long way away. But by going back week by week, the numbers stacked up – and 5 years later I’m running round in a pretty decent time, and enjoying it immensely.
That reflection led me to consider how this is reflected in other goals in life and I realised there was an immediate running link at a lower level. Quite often I get to the start line on a Saturday and I’m tired, I’ve been out the night before, had a hard week plus all number of other excuses and the only goal I have is to get around the 5k. I know that all I have to do is keep on putting one foot after the other, one step at a time, one breath at a time and I will get there. Once again the big goal is broken down into small, manageable steps and before I know it I’ve done it.
So how can we use this to achieve big things?
Have you ever wished you could do something, then felt demotivated because it’s just too big and out of reach? But then you find a way to break it down into smaller chunks, which feel a bit more manageable, and those get broken down into something even smaller… until you find something you can do daily or weekly which over time adds up to a big achievement.
I’m sure you have hundreds of examples like this scattered throughout your life, as I do, starting from an early age – learning to read, passing exams, learning to play the piano (I’m still not sure how I got to grade 7), learning to drive… I think you get the idea.
But at the same time, how many examples do you have of things you didn’t do because they felt too gigantic and it wasn’t so obvious how to break them down? Things like losing weight, creating and delivering on a business plan, developing that next product. Even this blog is a good example for me!
So What’s the learning?
- Break your goal down into smaller chunks, and then be prepared to break it down further if you hit a barrier or feel demotivated.
- Figure out what your next tiny step is and take it. Every action takes you one step closer and gives you a bit of momentum. Don’t worry too much about what happens after that until you get there.
- Be prepared for it to take time (and possibly longer than you want it to take). But trust that before you know it you will find yourself there.
One final reflection that Parkrun does well that we can learn from in this process: celebrate as you reach each of your milestones – large and small. The celebration keeps us motivated, helps us enjoy the journey and encourages us to step back and reflect on our achievement. So make sure you build some celebration into the process – not just for the end.
Please do share your thoughts below. What big goals are you putting off and how could you break them down into something you could do regularly? How will you celebrate along the journey?