About five or six months ago I started up running again for the first time in many years. To be honest, I was never a serious runner even then. I usually just did as part of a sports practice or as part of my workout in general. I never really considered myself a “runner.”
The other day, though, during my lunchtime run I thought about when someone actually “becomes” a runner. When do you cross over into that territory? When do you earn enough clout to label yourself as such? Do you need to run a certain number of miles a day or win a set amount of races?
I determined that it was really quite simple.
To be a runner, run. It doesn’t matter your skill level, your depth of experience, or how many awards you’ve earned. If you run on a consistent basis and find enjoyment in it – congratulations! You are a runner.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that one could apply this notion to many other labels. For example, what makes a writer a writer? Does he or she need to have a long list of published works? While that may be the goal, I’d argue that it’s the actual act that makes you something, not necessarily the accomplishments that accompany it. So to be a writer, simply write.
It’s the act of putting a pen to paper and your passion for it that truly defines you in this way.
The same could be said for being an artist, carpenter, singer, or skydiver. It definitely can be said about being an entrepreneur and operating your own small business.
Worry less about labels and external validation and more about pursuing your passion and doing what makes you happy.
Don’t compare yourself to others to see how you stack up. Instead only measure your current self to your past self to gauge your improvement. It’s not about being better than others that matters, but about being better than you were the day before.
Put all of yourself into what you do, whether it be running on a trail or running your own business. If you lack passion and enjoyment for what you do, it will become a chore. You will begin to resent having to perform, hampering both your progress and your long-term success. If you start to feel yourself heading down this path, change it up to make things more fun for you, or consider going in a completely different direction all together.
Life is too short not to enjoy it.
Set goals for yourself. Yes, I know I said that it’s the act of doing something that defines you, but this isn’t about bragging rights or having something to prove. It’s about turning your passion into something meaningful. It’s a way to keep you on track and to help you see your progress. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon, writing the next great work of classic literature, or turning your small business into a global empire. It certainly could be if that’s your desire, but that’s the point. It’s what you want and the objectives you set for yourself, not external expectations that you feel you need to meet or live up to in order to validate your success. By tying your passion to the achievement of one of your personal dreams, you will be much more invested to see it through and accomplish what you set out to do. That’s success.
Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, though.
It’s easy to get excited and want to push yourself right away. But remember, just as it takes months of training to get oneself ready for a marathon, it will take you time to hone your skills before you can take on advanced level challenges. Focus on the basics first, no matter how boring that may sound in the beginning. No matter what you pursue, all advanced techniques require mastery of a fundamental base of abilities. Without a strong foundation, whatever you build up will no doubt fall back down. Create a strong structure; however, and you will be set to weather whatever storms may blow your way.
Bottom line, don’t be embarrassed to say you’re a runner if you’ve never won a race.
Don’t shy away from calling yourself an entrepreneur if you are just starting out or if your small business is still small.
You are doing it and pursuing your passions and that’s what matters. You’re already miles ahead of anyone too afraid to even start. Be who you want to be and pursue what you love and success and accomplishments will come naturally.