I was never much of an athlete growing up. Notoriously clumsy, I was ostracized by our school volleyball and basketball teams. Nevertheless, there was one sport in which I excelled - running. Year after year I won top prizes at school track meets.
Characteristics of successful runners are similar to those that empower us to achieve our life goals. Reaching your purpose is like running a marathon. The race is different for each of us, for it represents our unique destiny.
But though we run different races, the same attributes are required for winning. The Bible says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb.12: 1-2).
I periodically evaluate my progress in light of this scripture. Am I running free of unnecessary weights? Am I running with endurance? Am I remaining focused on my overall purpose?
Run Free of Weights
Any runner knows that she must minimize resistance in what she wears. Extra ounds, whether in body weight or clothes, impede speed and performance.
Reach your dreams also requires running "light." As the scripture above says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which easily ensnares us."
Sin is easy enough to recognize, and we know what to do with it -- repent. Weights, on the other hand, can be deceiving, for they are often obscured by well-intentioned motives. For example, excessive busyness is a common weight that is often rooted in the inability to say no or set boundaries.
Emotional baggage, such as regret and self-reproach for past failures and disappointments, will also weight you down.
Other common encumbrances include excessive amounts of time spent on activities such as hobbies, socializing, watching television, or shopping. All these are healthy in moderation, but overindulgence and imbalance will keep you from reaching your goals.
Make a list of all the things you need to lay aside, and prayerfully lift each area to God. If you have sinned, ask for God's forgiveness. If are carrying negative emotional baggage, let it go. If you are wasting time, make a quality decision to make changes and hold yourself accountable.
Run with Endurance
I love the feeling of having completed a long distance run. But this feeling comes only after a series of events that severely test my endurance. The first few minutes are easy. After fifteen to twenty minutes, I hit what runners call "the wall." My muscles ache. I'm burning up. I feel sluggish and fatigued. I can't remember why I wanted to run. I'm convinced I can go no further.
But I push myself to keep going. After a few more minutes of pain, exhaustion and the longing to quit, I experience a sudden burst of euphoric energy. My mind is alert and focused. Running now feels effortless, and I easily complete the course.
There is perhaps no greater factor in long-term success than endurance. Anyone can be enthusiastic and confident when bursting through the starting gate. But how do we react when we encounter obstacles and pain?
Be tenaciously determined to finish the course. Push yourself to keep going, despite the obstacles. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Refuse to give in to feelings of fatigue and discouragement.
I like the way best-selling author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. describes perseverence in The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book: "In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins --- not through strength but by perseverence."
Run with Focus
Finally, running a successful race means staying focused. Nothing will throw a runner off stride or slow her down more than turning to look at the runner coming behind her or glancing at the crowds in the stands to see how they are reacting to her performance.
In the race of purpose, distractions will throw you off stride and sometimes steer you in a direction that leads you farther from, rather than closer to, your dream. Comparing yourself with otheres or seeking their accolades will also hinder you from running with effectiveness.
Running with focus means not sweating the small stuff. It means keeping our eyes on the big picture, and not becoming discouraged by setbacks.
As you apply these principles, you will successfully run the race of purpose and reach every one of your dreams.
Judy Rushfeldt is an author, speaker, and online magazine publisher (http://www.LifeToolsforWomen.com) whose passion is to help women reach their dreams. Her latest book, Making Your Dreams Your Destiny - a woman's guide to awakening your passions and fulfilling your purpose, is available in quality bookstores in Canada and the United States. You can read more about this book and order online at: http://www.MakingYourDreams.comJudy can also be contacted at: Judy@LifeToolsforWomen.com