Today is the Boston Marathon. It’s the oldest continuing running marathon that attracts international elite athletes to compete in running 26.2 miles. Due to its competitive entry requirements, the field is limited to 30,000 entrants of which 80% must beat a qualifying time at another marathon in their age category. It’s not for the faint-hearted but for goal-driven, competitive personalities.
The Boston Athletic Association does set aside a number of spaces for runners to gain entry by a sponsorship from a local charity. So if you are not really fast, you have to know someone to enter into this prestigious road race.
While I haven’t run a marathon, I have raced in sprint triathlons (½-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3-mile run ) and understand some of the commitment and determination toward an athletic goal.
What can we learn from a marathon runner’s mindset?
What makes marathons and other endurance athletic events so awe-inspiring is that the goal or outcome is delayed. Delayed gratification and self-control can be predictive behaviors of positive outcomes and success in certain settings.
Are you able to delay gratification?
Researchers have identified two different neural systems in our brains that work at odds with each other causing conflict between short-term rewards and long-term goals.
The limbic center associated with the midbrain dopamine system ( that feel-good neurotransmitter), is the emotional part of our brain that seeks out and responds to instant gratification and immediately available rewards.
“Our emotional brain has a hard time imagining the future, even though our logical brain clearly sees the future consequences of our current actions,” said Laibson, an economist in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Our emotional brain wants to max out the credit card, order dessert, and smoke a cigarette. Our logical brain knows we should save for retirement, go for a jog, and quit smoking.”
The logical side of our brain located in the lateral prefrontal cortex allows us to engage in forward-looking decisions and to rationally look at trade-offs to how current actions will impact future consequences.
If you are like me and don’t want to run a marathon, but are interested in adopting a mindset that gives you the resilience and power to complete long-term goals, here are some habits to try.
Develop these 26 habits and personality traits to achieve your long-term goals.
Goal-Setting and Research
1. Set a clear measurable goal with a timeline.
2. Determine where you are now and where you need to be.
3. Research and identify the best strategies and resources to help you achieve your goal.
4. Know the facts that surround your goal.
5. Perform a critical analysis: what are the obstacles and what are the opportunities.
Routines and Systems
6. Identify small steps required over a time period that will help you achieve your goal.
7. Block off specific time on your calendar to focus on your action steps.
8. Track and measure your small accomplishments daily and weekly.
9. Develop contingency plans should something unexpected happens.
10. Build stamina to endure tough times.
Vision and Future
11. Know how this goal aligns with your long-term strategy.
12 Visualize your outcome – what does it look like, how will you feel, who will you impact?
13. Dare yourself.
14. Develop fun new activities or reward systems to keep yourself motivated for the long-haul.
15. Allow for spontaneity to try new things.
Passion and Support
16. Enlist support from peers, family, or friends that will help you achieve your goal.
17. Attach emotional incentives to your short-term action steps.
18. Develop passion around your goal as it may require sacrifice or a trade-off in order to achieve it.
19. Provide yourself with positive self-talk to boost motivation and self-esteem.
20. Manage your stress and allow for recovery.
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. -Buddha (568-488BC) Click to retweet
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Wind in the Fire: A Personal Journey by Bobbi Gibb
The Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey, Chirs McChesney, and Jim Huling