I never considered myself a runner... Until I became one. Truthfully, by many people's standards, I'm still not a true runner. That being said, I've managed to go from running a 10K once a year to running a 10K (and more) weekly---something I never imagined doing in my wildest dreams. So how did I pull this off? The funny thing is that I didn't even really try. Much of this accomplishment is a product of circumstance and my environment. If the following philosophy can make me a "runner," then I'm confident it can work for any goal that you are trying to achieve.
My good friend and collaborator, Karsten Klein, loves to run, and he's quite good at it. I enjoy running a good 5K now and then, and I'm not so great at it. I do love efficiency, however, and running with friends and colleagues while talking about life and work is very appealing.
This means that if I wanted to network and socialize more frequently, I had to push myself to run at least a 5K on a regular basis. What was once a sporadic, quarterly run, at best, quickly became a weekly one. This, however, was only the first step.
For those of you who have yet to experience the wonders of Tokyo, know that the Imperial Palace, with its perfect 5K circumference, is perhaps the most famous running spot in the city. Unfortunately, I live on the west side of town, several kilometers away.
For my first few weekly runs, I would simply take the subway to and from the Imperial Palace. We run early, so the inbound subway ride is pleasant. The outbound ride, however, is during full-on rush hour.
Not wanting to add another sweaty body into a subway car packed like a can of sardines, I started extending my jogs westward after running my initial 5K around the palace, inching closer and closer to my apartment each week. I ran as far as I could and hopped on the subway at less crowded locations. Eventually, I no longer needed the return-trip train at all, and my weekly runs are now reaching the 12K mark.
If you are struggling to achieve your goals, I have three takeaways for you:
1. Planning is important, but make sure you are always doing something to take steps toward your goal. Sometimes the path to success doesn't reveal itself until you are already walking on it (or in my case running).
2. When you are having trouble motivating yourself, try outsourcing that task to your environment and circumstances. In my case, my journey was shaped by my social network, geography, and a strong desire to avoid Tokyo rush hour.
3. Step out of your comfort zone. This is cliché, but there’s a reason for that: it's true. You are rarely going to find success in familiar territory.
We often see our environment as an obstacle to reaching our goals, and this is frequently true. Don't forget, however, that sometimes what we perceive as an obstacle is actually a tool for success in disguise.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.