While I was out on a run Monday, I had three things going through my head. I was disappointed that I didn’t have a blog post scheduled for Monday, but I’d spent my evening playing Civ V and I really didn’t have much to kvetch about. I was steeping in my usual disdain for cyclists who wear black from head to toe in low-visibility conditions. The biggest thing on my mind was the run though, and that really came into focus as I turned a corner and saw a bridge in the distance. I thought for a second that there was no way that I could run that far, but then I realized that I’d actually be running past that bridge and over the one after that before beginning to turn home.

As I’ve said before, I have worked hard to run this far. I struggled with that first mile, pushing myself to run just a little bit farther each time. I set tiny goals for myself, just keep running til that next telephone pole. As I finished each goal, I focused on the next one, chewing the distance slowly.

Now that I run farther, I think about it differently. I try to focus less on the milestones until I’ve passed them, thinking more about what I have accomplished in my run that what I still have left. Even in a longer run, like the one I had on Monday, I try not to think about how far that turn-around point is, but instead to quietly celebrate how far I’ve come.

As I ran under that bridge, the one I had seen in the distance and thought was too far away, I gave myself a pat on the back for having done it anyway. Like so many things in life, it is not quitting that makes for success.

It’s that way for me with a lot of other goals in my life. I enjoy writing and part of me has always wanted to be a writer, but nay-say had kept me from trying. Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and wrote a novel. The process was enlightening. I had attempted what I might have thought impossible and achieved it. By focusing on daily success I just kept writing until I was done.

This is one of the biggest take-aways I’ve had from reading about start-up mentalities. If you don’t push yourself and set ‘impossible’ goals, you won’t really achieve much more than mediocrity. I don’t do it in every aspect of my life, but I try to apply this where I can. I set hard distance goals and do my best to run them. It sometimes takes me a long time to grow into it, but without the goal I would idle and plateau. The writing too needs hard goals. I’m going to write another novel next month, this one more complex than the last.

So there you have it. Set some hard (maybe even impossible goals) and then achieve them. It might take a million little steps, but it is worth it. Just about all of my big accomplishments in life were preceded by the decision to damn the risk and try the hard thing anyway. Even the failures took me forward without much regret.

Okay, now I have to go work on outlining that novel.