The finish line was in sight…so I went into a full blown, all out sprint. I wanted to finish my first half-marathon, my first race, leaving nothing out on the course. If I can only get to that finish line, all this pain will be worth the pride.
As I approached all the signage and structures from where I excitedly began a little over an hour and a half earlier, I was really surprised at the lack of fanfare for it being the finish line, but hey, first race, who knows?…and then it hit me…the starting line was not the finish line. Uh-oh…
I still had over a tenth of a mile to go. A tenth of a mile is not a long distance, except for when I successfully used everything I had to finish really strong…to the finish line that actually wasn’t. My legs wobbled and I dry-heaved that last tenth to the real finish line with a euphoric but deflated feeling.
Nearly 15 years later, the memory of that feeling is still deeply embedded in me, and I remind myself often when I find myself saying things like “if we only…[fill in the blank]…then things will really take off” or even more insidiously “…then things will get easier.”
That deflating feeling hits me really hard when I cross one of these fake finish lines and it doesn’t really take off or it doesn’t get any easier, which makes that next tenth of a mile extraordinarily difficult.
Instead of those “if only…” fake finish lines, now I try to focus on milestones and elevation markers, which provide me a sense of progress being made without being held hostage by unrealistic expectations (that I’ve typically set in my own mind)…because as I’ve heard said, “disappointment happens when expectations don’t meet reality”.
When acquiring our new building, I am so glad I prepared myself with the purchase just being a milestone in the race, and not a “things will get easier…will let up…will get less complicated” fake finish line. The challenges and complications definitely continue, which is not a huge surprise since there are a bunch of governmental agencies involved at the local, state, and federal levels – 2 steps forward, 1 step back is the name of that game.
With all the moving parts and pieces still in play, deflating, burning out, or dry heaving are not very good options. Since I prepared myself that the sprint to the acquisition was just a milestone, I pre-planned some recuperation strategies allowing my literal and metaphorical heart rate to recover before settling back in at my sustainable race pace.
When have you felt deflated when something didn’t end up like you hoped? What do you think caused that disappointment?
Where do you need to change your internal expectations from a fake finish line to a milestone or elevation marker on something you are working on right now?