Every time I go for a longer run, I experience almost the same mental states, all of which feel like they will never end even though I’ve experienced them before. It starts with feeling fresh and excited; I look at my pace and see I’m running faster than typical and I’m not even out of breath! AWESOME! This lasts for about 45 seconds and then my body reminds my mind why I don’t run this fast.
Suddenly I’m trying to catch my breath and panic: I absolutely suck at this and there is no way I’m ever going to get this done. I slow down and eventually my lungs catch up and start pounding it out. As the run nears completion, I think about being done and that makes me focus on the pain and discomfort, wondering if I can get it done. Finally, I finish and feel the exhilaration for having completed it (and for no longer running which feels soooo good).
Every run we experience the same mental cycle: excitement, panic, grind, pain, and then elation. Each phase seems like it’s not going to end. We battle with our mind to convince it this feeling won’t last and overcome the temptation to give up.
This cycle applies to most large endeavors. We kick off a new project and feel the high tempo techno as the background music. Excitement fills the air. Then we start actually getting to work and it’s not what we expected and there are so many things we didn’t think about (panic). Followed by slowly finding solutions to those complexities and grinding them out. Then the looming deadline approaches and there are so many loose ends we knuckle down and bear the pain to get it done. Then we’re elated (and tired) that we were able to get it completed.
Each phase of a project also seems like it’s never going to end, but then we find ourselves in the next one. Just as with a long run, it’s easy to give up or not finish our projects, but if we push through whatever mental state we’re facing at the moment, we can get it done.
Photo Credit: marathonpix cc
I remember the “Six phases of a project”: Enthusiasm, disillusionment, panic, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent, praise and honors for the non-participants.