Well, it’s official. I am a triathlete. Two days ago I competed in the US Women’s Triathlon Series race in Illinois, and all in all, I had a wonderful experience. I’m not very fast, and I was racing with an injury, so I finished in the last third of the competitors. But I got something far more valuable than a win, I gained a great new perspective.
Everyone I’ve talked to in the past two days has congratulated me on finishing the triathlon, and even as I planned and trained for the race, finishing was my only goal. But Sunday morning, I learned that finishing isn’t really the hardest part of the race. Starting is. That morning, every possible excuse for not starting the race was running through my mind. I had an injury, my son was sick, the weather might not cooperate, and my stomach was upset. I had a million reasons why I didn’t want to start, and I know that no one would have blamed me if I backed out at the last minute. But I wasn’t doing this for anyone else, I was doing it for me.
I pushed all those excuses out of my mind, and I started the race. Once I got going, it was just a matter of doing what I had trained to do. Two hours later, I had done it. Finishing wasn’t nearly as hard as starting was.
So why am I blogging about this on the Writer’s Retreat? What does this have to do with writing? Well, for me this was an interesting revelation. I always tend to focus on the importance of finishing. If I don’t think I’ll be able to complete something, I tend to talk myself out of even trying. This has certainly always been true when I write and for that reason, I rarely start any writing projects. The problem with that theory, is that since I’m not starting, I have no chance whatsoever to finish anything.
So, I’m going to try to take this lesson from the triathlon and apply it to the other aspects of my life, especially writing. I need to shift my focus away from the all the reasons why I can’t do something and reward myself when I have the courage and determination to start projects that might be difficult to complete. After all, starting is the hardest part.