I have a longstanding love-hate relationship with running. In the early mornings as I’m leaving my neighborhood, my brain screaming for coffee, the local roadrunners pedal their svelte legs and it looks so effortless. The ones who run in small groups especially catch my eye, chatting casually as their toned legs turn over in graceful arcs.

I stare, flooded with a mix of envy, admiration and shallow optimism. Maybe one day running might look that beautiful on me. But the reality is, when I find the courage to pull on my running shoes (because believe me, it takes courage to face this kind of pain), I look and feel nothing like them. My lungs burn and my body becomes obstinate, heavy and aching. And as my body rages it attacks my mind. My mind wills my body to move forward.  My body wills my mind to stop.

The very essence of human motivation is to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  Babies are born with an instinctual reflex to withdraw from noxious stimuli, like pain. When you touch a hot stove, your hand retreats before you have the conscious thought to move it. Pain is an incredibly important signal that alerts us to danger and keeps us alive.

So if running is painful, and pain is a signal to stop, what am I doing this for?

There is something beautiful about bearing witness to internal struggle and learning to tolerate discomfort. To lean into it.
There is something beautiful about bearing witness to internal struggle and learning to tolerate discomfort. To lean into it. To feel your body agonize and protest against the determination of the mind. To prove that you can overcome the part that is begging to stop and complete the task, no matter how difficult the path.

This battleground between pain and willpower is fodder for growth – mind, body and spirit. Learning to tolerate discomfort, pressure, and tension grants us the opportunity to accomplish things we might otherwise believe to be impossible.

Learning to tolerate discomfort, pressure, and tension grants us the opportunity to accomplish things we might otherwise believe to be impossible. 
Emotional pain like grief and anxiety is no different. Just as I am teaching my body to endure discomfort to achieve a goal, our hearts, minds, and spirits are equally important. Studies have found that the areas of the brain that become active when experiencing physical pain are also active during emotional pain like rejection or heartbreak. Pain is pain.

And that is why I run. It might not look pretty. But learning to tolerate discomfort builds resilience, confidence, and stamina. I run to prove myself wrong.

Whatever discomfort you are enduring, lean into it. Study it like a curious child. Challenge the negative thoughts. Persist in the face of adversity. Succeed anyway.

P.S. – I recently ran down one of those beautiful, ethereal runners (figuratively, of course). He laughed at me heartily, explaining if he didn’t feel challenged he wouldn’t still be running. He endures pain just like the rest of us mere mortals, but perhaps he has been leaning into the discomfort so long that it just feels more natural now.

3 Ingredients for Achieving your 2018 Goals (Plus a free Goal-Setting Guide!)

Happy New Year! This time of year, most of us are thinking about all of the goals we have for the New Year. So what will it be? Are you ready for a new you? Or will 2018 be another year of the same old you?

Before we speed ahead to plan for 2018, take a moment to thoughtfully reflect on all that you’ve accomplished in 2017. What are the top 3 blessings or achievements from last year? Did you travel somewhere new? Gain a new family member or friend? Start a new job or hobby?

A lot can happen in a year! Take stock and allow yourself a few moments to thank your mind, body, and spirit for carrying you through another year.

The more difficult 2017 was for you, the more time you should spend cultivating a practice of gratitude for the strength and resilience it took for you to get here to 2018!

The good news is that each January gives us a fresh chance to think with intention about what we can do to improve our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health for the year ahead. Having goals that balance all four of these areas are essential to becoming more well-rounded and healthy.  So embrace the energy and optimism that comes with a fresh start, and take some time to think carefully about what you’d like to achieve this year on your journey to a more holistically healthy you!

Take a moment to reflect on what your goals might be for 2018. What matters most to you? Perhaps you want to spend more quality time with family, improve your physical fitness, lose weight, drink more water, enhance your communication and negotiation skills, or meditate more regularly.

Whatever you choose to tackle this year, successfully achieving your goals will require three things: Intention, Commitment, and Resilience.

There’s a difference between setting a goal and setting your intention. Setting goals helps us to identify what we’d like to achieve in a future state so that we can develop a roadmap, mile markers, and a plan to stay on track. But your intention is a state of being – a consciousness you bring to your values, desires, and ideals. They are the heart of what motivates you. You may have an intention to be loving, successful, wealthy, healthy, grateful, or at peace. Want a good example? Let’s say you have a desire to increase your wealth this year. Your intention might be something like “My intention is to cultivate a sense of abundance and financial freedom.” A goal to connect with this intention might be “I will generate $75,000 by December 31, 2018.” Naturally, you can develop a few related action steps towards achieving that goal for this year.

Just make sure that your goals align with your intentions, and then take a few moments at the start of each day to consider your intention, connect it to your goal, and take positive action.

Read Setting Goals Isn’t Enough: Setting Daily Intentions Will Change Your Life by Marla Tabaka for more

Commitment is the second ingredient necessary to achieve your goals this year. Nothing can be accomplished without commitment to execution. There will be obstacles! But these goals mean something big to you, right? Remember that when times get hard and stay focused on what means more to you – that piece of delicious German chocolate cake? Or dropping that last 10 pounds and moving out of the pre-diabetes category?

Read Three Keys to Staying Committed to your Goals by Joseph Wilner

This brings us to the third ingredient, which is perhaps the most important: Resilience! In our society, we are surrounded by distraction, and we are far busier than we’ve ever been. There are going to be moments where life’s obstacles trip us up and we lose sight of our goal. But don’t let a temporary setback become the demise of the goal you’ve been working so hard to achieve! Pick a day to reset, dust yourself off and get back after it! Every time you overcome an obstacle and get back after it, you’ve become stronger and smarter. You’ll know what to do the next time this obstacle comes up again. The personal resilience you’re developing is preparing you for more goals and challenges in your future.

So – are you ready? I’ve included a free Goal-Setting Guide to help you plan your goals for 2018! Make sure you go back to it every month or so to update and refine your goals throughout the year.

You can also bring our Goal-Setting Guide to your next session with us to kick off the New Year and make it your best year yet!

Cheers to a New You!