What’s stopping you? How to start Doing instead of just Dreaming.

So I am currently training for my first marathon and considering starting a business.   I am realizing through this process that the two journeys parallel each other quite a bit.

The hardest part may be committing.  Whether it’s hitting the register button or signing the dotted line when dollars on the line.

It’s one thing to talk about eventually doing something. “Hey, I have an idea.. One day I would love to do X.”  But eventually you need to stop talking about IT and actually start doing  IT. Whatever the “IT” may be in your life.

So how do you get to that point of doing rather than just dreaming?

For me, it helps to write down a list of everything holding me back.

So just a few short months ago, I documented every reason that I shouldn’t sign up to run my first marathon at age 43.    And guess what? The list wasn’t very long.  And even if the list was long, all you have to do figure out what is behind those reasons.  Is it fear? mere excuses? or maybe bad timing?

This year I realized the only thing that was stopping me from registering for Twin Cities was fear.  Fear that I wasn’t capable of finishing and fear of long-term injury.   And both of these fears I decided could be managed with proper training.

So now I am on the verge of setting up a LLC and turning a business idea into a real tangible thing.  Again, I have started a list of reasons why I shouldn’t proceed with this dream.  And I am sure this won’t surprise anyone, but my biggest obstacle so far is fear.   “Am I capable of doing this? Is this actually a viable idea or am I crazy?”

So how do you know? No one is guaranteed success at anything, but you can control  many of the contributing factors that give you a better chance of reaching your desired results.

As far as my marathon training goes, I have a goal and I am following a plan laid out by a trainer and experienced marathoner.  She tells me how far, how fast and how often I should run based on my target time.   With this coach also comes a supportive running network (friends) and they hold me accountable.  “Lori, where were you Friday? How far did you go?”

If I am going to take the next step with my business idea, I recognize the need to surround myself with those who can offer advice, direction and help me set up a system for accountability.  So one of my first goals is finding board members.

Here are some of the factors I believe will show if you are ready to sign up for a marathon, get a business going or both. 

1. Strong Foundation —  I would never recommend that someone who is new to running sign up for a marathon as their first race.  I slowly built up to this marathon. First with 5-Ks, then 10-Ks and half marathons. I believe the same holds true with any business venture.   It’s a good idea to have some business or life experiences that pertain to your role in that start-up.  Or it’s time to start reading up on things before jumping in.

2. Timing —  The timing has to be right professionally and personally.  When my kids were younger and with my previous work schedules, there is no way I would have had time to train for a marathon.     Now I have the time, but there are still sacrifices to make.  Less time for blog writing, volunteering at school, and more time devoted to running.  I feel strongly if you want results, investing time is just as important as investing money.  Are you willing and able to put in the extra hours?

3. Goal Setting– When I am running sometimes I tell myself, “Just get to that tree a few hundred feet up”.  In business, it is great to have an end goal in mind but you need to set short-term goals along the way or it can get overwhelming.  Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals. That is how I looked at my marathon training.  One day, one mile and sometimes as little as one step at a time.  You need to set realistic goals and you need to be patient and pace yourself.  I can’t expect to run a 3 hour marathon the first time out.  And when you start a business you can’t expect overnight success.

4. Resiliency —  Some days you are going to face setbacks and resistance. In marathon training it might be heat and humidity or wind.  In business, it might be a bad phone call, criticism or financial difficulties.   It’s how you recover from the challenging moments that can matter the most.  This will help pave the way for your success.   I had the hardest run to date this past Friday but I just kept telling myself,  I am strong enough, and I focused on what felt good as opposed to what felt tired.  I believe mentally powering through that run is going to make a huge difference for me come marathon day.  And on those business days where it might seem easiest to throw in the towel,  instead try to focus on what you are  learning along the way and it will ultimately make your company stronger.

5. Passion — I am sure you have heard this before.  But you have to be passionate about what you are doing.  It will be a huge factor in your foundation.  If you are passionate about something you will want to read and learn and experience as much as you can in that arena.  You will enjoy devoting time to something you are passionate about.  If you are passionate about something even the smallest victories or goals reached will be gratifying.  And with passion, it will be much easier to bounce back stronger in the face of any adversity.

I am now just a few weeks away from my first marathon.  I have gained a ton of strength and confidence.   I come home smiling and proud of what I have achieved.  I have completed a 20 mile run in fabulous weather. An eighteen mile run with aches and pains and a 17 mile run in high humidity.   In all three cases, I finished what I set out to do.  Come race day, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I am going to cross that finish line even if it means walking or crawling or to the end.

And that’s how I look at my business. I am going to get it done.   I am going to put my best foot forward.   The worst that can happen is I will learn from the experience, be forced to make changes and possibly even start over.  Or maybe I will realize the marathon or business deal is not for me and move onto something else.  But at least I will be able to say I tried.

How about you? What is something that you’ve talked about that you finally tried.  And how did you muster up the courage to take that first step?