Why Process Matters

I run.  I run a lot.  It didn’t start out that way, but I don’t tend to do anything part way.  So, when I first started running back in 2007, I started out with a mile, which then progressed to several miles.  Then I started looking at the idea of running a marathon.  How would I do that?  Well, there is a process to it.  And you must follow the process, or you will pay for it during the race.  Once I finished a few marathons, I decided that wasn’t enough for me.  So, I started looking at going longer:  50K, 50 miles, and then 100 miles.  100 miles???  If you pay for not following a process in a marathon, how much more will you pay in a 100 miler?  I am sure you can guess.  So, what is involved with this process?  Let’s look at it in more detail.

Planning The Process

First, you must plan your training.  This training typically lasts for about half a year.  What I discovered is that if I don’t have it planned out, it doesn’t happen.  I need to look at my next day, my next week, and the months ahead to make sure I am going to be ready for such an undertaking.  So, planning is the first aspect of running that translates to work and life.  We must plan our work, so we can meet deadlines and make sure we are working toward the greater goal.  We must also plan our lives, so we can make sure we are able to enjoy time with family, and to make sure, one day, that we can enjoy the rewards of our work with retirement.  To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, nobody plans to fail…they just fail to plan.  Setting a plan of attack for your race, work projects, and life goals sets the stage for what is required to accomplish the goal.

Next, you must review your training.  Reviewing your training helps to make sure you aren’t over or under doing it.  If you overreach and train too hard or too much, then you end up injured or burned out.  If you don’t do enough, then you won’t be ready come race day.  This is the same with work and life.  You must review your goals, understand how you got to the point you are at, and assess what is required to continue to reach your goals.  This ensures you are progressing properly to reach both your work and life goals, while balancing the time spent for each.

Executing The Process

Finally, it is a huge undertaking to run 100 miles.  It takes a full 24+ hours to finish a race like that.  That is an extremely overwhelming objective and I find that looking at the entire 100 miles can cause anxiety.  So, I like to break my race down into manageable sections.  In these races, there are aid stations set out every seven miles or so.  This allows me to run the race in bite sized sections.  All I must do is make it to the next aid station.  And anyone can make it seven miles if they must!

The same goes for work and life.  If we look at all the things that are thrown at us at work and then we go home and look at all the things we must do at home, it can all be too much.  But, if we break it down into manageable sections, then all we must do is make it to the next “aid station”.  And that makes it much easier to handle.    If we look at the big work project that is due next week and it just seems like too much, then break it down and handle it in sections.  The same goes for anything that home life throws at us.

Running is a metaphor for work and life.  And if we handle our work and our lives with the same approach that we should handle running, then everything will fall into place.  And if everything falls into place, we can run our race knowing that we will finish, and finish with a feeling of accomplishment.