Day 8: Starting a Story

I mentioned yesterday about a Donald Miller blog post that influenced my decision to start running. (He actually wrote a whole book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years about making your life into a good story. It’s on my ever-growing to-read list.) He said when we trade goals for stories, we are more likely to overcome conflict to get what we want.

I don’t have any problem with goals. I like goals and still set them. But without an overarching plot, goals don’t make sense and are hard to achieve. A story gives a goal a narrative context that forces you to engage and follow through. People who are in great shape and have their finances in order probably don’t set goals to be in good shape or get their finances in order. They probably set goals of running a marathon or paying off their house. In other words, they think in narrative rather than goals. The goals get met in the journey of the story.  — Donald Miller

I could have set a goal of learning to run. I could have even set a goal of running three times a week. I’m pretty sure both of those goals would have led to failure. My goal to finish the Couch to 5K program, which includes slowly learning to run three days a week, gave me a story to be a part of.

And, I’m convinced this way of looking at goal setting was key in learning to run.

I became even more convinced of it this week when my motivation to run dropped down to nothing. I mean, I ran a 5K last weekend. Story over, right?

Last fall, I was running into November. This meant I got up to run in the dark. I got up to run in the cold. I got up to run even when I didn’t want to. And why? All because I was trying to finish my story.

And, even though I finished my most recent 5K, the story isn’t really over. Hopefully it was just one chapter. I am still running. At least as long as the weather cooperates. 😉

I plan to run a local 5K again next spring. My friends who participated in the 5K last weekend decided we should do it again next year. The story continues. I better keep running!

What goals do you have? How can you turn them into a story to make them more achievable?

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7 thoughts on “Day 8: Starting a Story

  1. I am really enjoying this series. I started running (never ran before) a little over a year ago at 31. I actually started it as a way to manage some anxiety issues I have. I have been surprised about how much I enjoy it and how much it helps! I have it in my head that I want to try a 10K and eventually a half marathon. We will see. I am juggling the schedule right now to accommodate for dark and cold and rain right now, too, but I prefer going outside so I hope to keep going through the winter.

    • I am glad you are enjoying the series! I’m on the fence about trying a longer race like a 10K or half marathon. Exercise does amazing things for anxiety and a whole host of other issues we deal with.

  2. I started running this past summer as part of a ten week women’s running training program. At the end of the ten weeks we ran our “Graduation 5K”. I finished and I felt great and I had even already signed up for my next 5K just two weeks later. And my training fell flat on its face and my second race was AWFUL! I’ve been trying to figure out why, and you just gave me that answer: I had a goal but no story.
    I have since got past that little ‘speed bump’ when my husband (also a runner) decided to commit to doing a half-marathon next September and I (without thinking) said “Cool! We can train together!” Without knowing what I was doing I was beginning that story. But I like knowing what I’m doing.
    Thanks! And Good Luck with C25K!

    • How cool that you are training with your husband for a half-marathon! Sometimes it’s best to make a decision like that without thinking through all the details. 🙂 I’m wondering if running a second 5K so close to the other one was part of your issue. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about our bodies needing rest.

  3. Pingback: Day 1: 31 Days of Learning to Run « It's the little things.

  4. Pingback: Day 26: Goal Setting « It's the little things.

  5. Pingback: Day 31: The Finish Line « It's the little things.

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