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Totem

I got lucky in March of 2010.

I was fortunate enough to land an Invitational Entry into the Boston Marathon.  A teacher at my daughter’s school had a brother who was in charge of the chip timers that year and he was given several entries to do with what he wanted.  He originally gave one to one of his employees, but she ended up injuring herself.  He gave it to his sister who had heard I was on a quest to get to Boston.  After initially hesitating because I wanted to get there by qualifying, I came to my senses and happily took the gift from the running gods.  How cool would it be to BQ at Boston?

I missed running a BQ in that race but had an incredible time nonetheless.

After the race, the wife handed me half of a magnetic oval with a “B” on it.

“Now that you’ve completed the Boston marathon, you get this,” she said, “when you qualify for Boston, you’ll get to put this on the car.” She handed me the other half of the oval, which had a “Q” on it.

That “Q” lived on my treadmill for the next six months as I trained for the Smuttynose Marathon.  It came to symbolize my motivation, a totem if you will of my desire to qualify for the grand daddy of all marathons.  Every time I felt myself drag or drift, I would look at that “Q” and I would find a renewed source of energy.  For most of us, achievement only comes through hard work and my qualifying for Boston was no different.  We find motivation where we can, but in this Age of Veruca “I Want It Now” Salt, it’s easy to get side-tracked, distracted or even discouraged from our goals.

I have found that creating a physical home for my motivation helps tremendously.

So, how does that help you?

Well, let’s first ask what it is you are trying to accomplish?  If it’s qualify for Boston, I highly recommend the homemade BQ oval or an oval with 26.2 on one side and a BQ on the other.

But what if it’s simply to cover 26.2 miles?  Have you run a half marathon yet?  Then go grab one of those 26.2 ovals, cut it in half, stick half on your vehicle and put the other half on your fridge.  Not a runner?  More interested in losing a few pounds or maybe just redistributing your weight?  Find an old outfit (a pair of jeans, a bikini, a fitted shirt) that you used to wear and instead of hiding it away in shame, put it in a place where you will see it every morning as you get dressed and every night as you get ready for bed.  If you don’t have that outfit anymore, find a picture of something you want to wear in three months and pin it to your dresser, your refrigerator, your desk, your dashboard – make it the screensaver on your phone as a reminder to make smart choices.  If your goal is more abstract that fitting into an outfit, maybe something like finding inner peace, then find a physical manifestation of that inner peace and carry it with you.

The point is to have a touchstone or totem, something physical to bring you back from the edge when you are slipping and back to YOUR reality, back to the reality that you envision for yourself.

Will the totem guarantee success? No.  There are no true 100% guarantees other than taxes and death – but having a physical source for motivation will carry you through many of the times you find yourself struggling.

Do you already have a totem that you use?  I would love to hear what different people use to keep themselves motivated.

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