Keep the Dream Alive

2017 hasn’t exactly started off with the “bang” I was hoping for. Well, unless by “bang” we mean, “BANG! You suddenly have a cold/sinus infection thingy that is here to throw off your whole week and make you feel miserable!”

The first week of January (once we begrudgingly say goodbye to holiday vacation time and trudge back into our normal lives), is usually the freshest week of the year. The gyms are crowded with bushy-tailed goal-setters, all throughout social media feeds and office refrigerators are colorful salads and leftover healthy crockpot meals, the internet is overpopulated with listicles about how to be productive, do it all, and have your best.year.EVER, and everywhere you go there is a pep in the air which rivals that of the holiday season, as everyone resolves to detox their bodies and souls and be some better version of themselves. Resolution madness is at its peak in the first couple weeks of January, before the pull of old habits and the realization that change takes hard work have time to set in.

But instead of charging across the starting line of 2017 with everyone else, I clumsily stumbled across it. 9 days into January and I already find myself besieged by setbacks and still stuck in a weird post-holiday limbo. The cold I got on Weds-Thurs of last week wasn’t too horrible – I didn’t miss any work – but it sapped my energy and I missed a couple runs and strength training days. The other thing about being sick is that it also made me kind of moody and detached, likely a result of the physical fatigue. Our trip to Mexico this week comes at a time when I’m peppered with work deadlines and pop-up projects and just finally starting to get into a routine, leaving me feeling stressed instead of excited about a few days in warm sunny paradise. The stress and the sickness has me feeling like I’m living in a fog, watching the days tick by.

The result, needless to say, is that all those fun goals and resolutions feel light years away, like they were set by another person in another far-off era. So instead of flying high on motivation and a surge of productivity, I feel like it’s already December again, and I’m facing down moments of looking at all those goals and wondering, “what am I thinking? I can’t do all this crap. I can’t even be a normal functioning adult and get out of bed on Saturday mornings.

(I will say that not all my goals are in the suffer tank right now – I did get a ton of reading done this week. Let no one say I don’t take lemons and make lemonade!)

Anyway, lest it seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m gonna cut the pity party and get to the actual point of this post. Believe it or not, I’m not just writing this to vent (okay, maybe a little…)

Heather recently wrote a great post about having a guiding mantra instead of a concrete running goal for 2017, and it made me think about how I could use something similar to get myself through sticky weeks like this one. Thinking about how laughable my goals have felt in my blah moments lately, I knew immediately what it needed to be.

Kara Goucher once said, “keeping the dream alive is half the battle.” We’re always so focused on what to do to achieve our goals that we forget how important it is to keep ourselves motivated and feeling positive toward them. Obviously doing the work is important, but – and forgive me being a little presumptuous here – I think where a lot of people go off the rails with goals and resolutions is that they don’t think about what they’ll do when the work doesn’t come easy, when the thrill wears off, when life throws them curveballs that make it hard to stay motivated. This is especially true with goals that are further away in time, such as yearly or 5-year goals. The pursuit requires more patience and doesn’t afford us the instant gratification we crave, so it becomes so much easier in the beginning to give in to excuses, to convince ourselves that what we do now doesn’t matter, and as I’ve experienced these past 10 days, to feel in moments of stress that it is just not worth it and that I might as well give up on it while I haven’t invested much time or energy into it yet.

Keeping the dream alive is hard. Sure, there will be awesome easy days. But as anyone who has ever pursued any goal will tell you, there will be more days that are hard or uneventful. There will be more weeks that are hard and uneventful. Anyone who says otherwise is either not being honest or isn’t making very challenging goals. But my last 7 months of 2016 were all about giving in to excuses and not wanting to work for anything, and I’m a little tired of excuses. I’m tired of feeling stuck.

So my guiding mantra for all of my goals this year, and all those moments, is “keep the dream alive.” None of my goals are unreasonable for me, and I picked them because I know that even if I don’t achieve some of them, it will be worthwhile just to try. So whenever life hits a lull or I experience a setback, I’m going to remember that. I’m going to tell myself to keep that dream alive.

What is your 2017 mantra?

How has your year started off?

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10 thoughts on “Keep the Dream Alive

  1. Sorry you are starting your new year with a cold. That was my start to last year and it really sapped me of my resolution motivation for the month of January.

    I like your mantra for the year (and thanks for the shout out!). Although our mantras are a bit different, I think they are in the same spirit: be patient and respect that long term goals require long term commitment.

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  2. I sort of did this when I started training for my I thought about all the things that could go wrong or make me forget my dream, and I actually wrote the, all down…and then did nothing with them, oops. But hey, I had good intentions! I had totally forgotten I had done that until I randomly found the list the other day, and reading this now was another great reminder. I have never heard that quote from Kara before but it is so spot on. It’s easy to dream big and to be willing to put in the work when the work feels good. But sometimes the work feels bad, really bad, or it takes too long to pay off, and then it’s easy to lose sight of what the point is in the first place. Thanks for the reminder! And I’m sorry your year has gotten off to a rough start – I hope you feel better and enjoy your trip!

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  3. Oh man, sorry to hear your year has started on such a rough note! Oddly enough, you’re one of many people I’ve heard talk about being sick this year at the beginning of January, so you’re certainly in good company. I really like that thought of keeping the dream alive. Especially with more ambitious goals (and by “ambitious” I mean “requires more effort than putting in like five minutes of work per day”), that’s such a huge part of it – putting in the work even when it’s not fun or new anymore. I think that’s a great mantra for the year!

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  4. That’s a great mantra to have. Another thing that I think people forget is to enjoy the journey to their goals. I think that’s what marathon training taught me. It taught me that the journey is as important at the goal. I learned a lot about myself and by focusing on the moment, I was a lot happier. I hope you recover from your cold soon! 🙂

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  5. From one fellow cold sufferer to another, I know the pain of starting the year off on the wrong foot. When the ball dropped I was hopped up on cold meds and mad that I couldn’t breathe properly. I think you should think of Mexico as the new start to your year. Make the most of the days you are there and think about them as another holiday. When you get back from vacation make that your unofficial official start to the new year. Take a redo on these first few days. Leave them behind and start fresh! That’s the beauty that a vacation right at the beginning of the year affords — a chance for refreshing and renewing right away if needed!

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  6. I love the keeping the dream alive thought, I had to wait a long time and go through a lot injured months still trying to hang on to something that seemed far fetched at times. It is all about nurturing that one little piece of you that really wants it and squashing the thoughts that weigh you down.
    I hope you enjoy sunny Mexico and relax! Try to leave the work stress at the airport- you can pick it when you get back 🙂
    I have started slow this year, I really haven’t picked a word, mantra or my races. I think I am on my 3rd cold since Christmas, every time I get rid of it a few days, the crud finds me again. Hope you feel better.

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  7. I am sorry you have been under the weather. I, too, have started out the year being sick, and now it is cycling through my family. I found myself this morning wondering if I should just bag the marathon training, but your mantra of “keep the dream alive”…maybe I will stick it out a little longer. (I can’t help but wonder if I am supposed to be getting some message here though!). Have fun on your vacation. Soak up some vitamin D for me! The days just before leaving are the most stressful, I hope when you set out with your suitcase you can leave it all behind you!

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  8. Oh man, I call it grinding through. Happens to all of us. Getting started for a new race plan or a new goal and boom something stone walls it lol. I agree that the true test is how we pull it together and get ourselves back on track.

    I read heathers post and my mantra this part of the year is “Work on your weaknesses”. I do a great job improving at my strengths and a really bad job at improving on my weaknesses.

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  9. Oh my goodness. It feels like you wrote this for me, because this is exactly what I’m going through right now. While not stress-related, I have a big life change coming up (will make public soon!) that is causing me to want to put my goals on the back burner. You are so right that keeping the dream alive is tough…especially when I usually don’t lack motivation. Getting ready to go on vacation is always stressful for me, but you’ll forget all about that when you are relaxing in gorgeous weather. Can you bring some of it back here to us?! Enjoy!

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