I hate running. More than likely your parents taught you that ‘hate’ is too strong of a word and that you shouldn’t hate anything. Oh yeah? Well, I hate running. [My maturity is showing.] I’ve never been the athletic type. I work out a few times a week because apparently that’s what 30somethings are supposed to do when they are sprinting towards 40. But I like going to the gym – give me some weights, some floor work, an elliptical machine or a bike. I’m solving world problems when I’m at the gym!
Somewhere along the way I got a bee in my bonnet about wanting to run. Have you seen them? Those toned people that jog past you while you are strolling along the tree-lined park path? They run on the sidewalks of Washington, DC darting in and out of traffic. They post photos of themselves at races, with white sheets of paper clipped to their shirts, laughing and perhaps posing in rain. [Side note: one of the only times people are proud about just being a number.] Who are these crazy people who seem to always be having fun? So I figure, running must be enjoyable. Everyone’s happy and keeps doing it. I’m pretty sure if you’re city folk, there is a written agreement that you sign stating you will become a runner.
They run in the mid-west too. I’ve seen it in person. I have a friend in Iowa who runs at 5am (!!) three times a week. When I went to visit her I tried it, at my own pace of course. I actually kind of liked it – no one was on the road, it was flat, I only had to dodge the geese. You don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or mugged. Bonus!
But I don’t live in Iowa. And here, in the Washington DC area, I hate running. So what’s the difference?
Self-discipline. Ouch! You knew that was coming I bet.
Most people start a business in the area that they are familiar with. The region in which they live, with people they know. I would argue this is the harder way to be a company newbie. Imagine you move to Iowa (or insert any state where you don’t live) – you’ll leave behind friends, family, comfort, events, and anything else that can distract you. Sure, you’ll be a bit bummed out for a while because you’re alone. But you would use that very ‘aloneness’ to focus on your start-up. You’d pour yourself into it. And eventually, you’d establish a flourishing life in your new state.
You need that kind of focus now. You need the tunnel vision to persevere until the end of the race. Become disciplined. Learn to say no to the ‘fun stuff.’ It sucks, I know. But if you want it badly enough you can become structured enough. Develop a game plan and stick to it; find people to hold you accountable. Three times a week I go jogging in the morning, and I b*tch about it before, during, and after. But I still do it. Sometimes I get shin splints, sometimes I gasp for air in pain, and sometimes I just feel lazy and tired. But I still do it. Translating this into how it relates to your fledgling business: Carve out specific times to work, and say no to everything else during these times. Put on your comfy clothes if you need to, drink 2 pots of coffee if you need to [please don’t do that, I highly doubt that’s healthy.]But defend that time that you have carved out, protect it from outside influences. Feel free to b*tch the entire time about how you would rather be hanging out, netflixing, going to a museum, hiking, picking the lint off of your carpet. Complain about it, but do it anyway. And do the work.
Eventually it will be easier, but ‘eventually’ can be an awfully long time period. Being an entrepreneur, overseeing a company, or just simply running, these things aren’t for the weak. They are for the persistent. For the self-disciplined.
Here’s the thing – everyone runs. We are all running through life. Sometimes we sprint, sometimes we jog, sometimes we walk, and sometimes we stop and have to clutch our sides because of sharp pains in our ribs, gasping for air. But these are all stages of learning to run. Apparently, if you can be persistent and disciplined enough, you can make it to the end of the race.
And sometimes, you can get a celebratory beer.