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One Piece At A Time

Posted Jul 10 2011 8:15am
Story by David Mills, author of The Distance: An Average Joe’s Path to Balancing Family, Work & Triathlon (Available at the end of July)

Guest blogger for July 2011

There is something deep inside all of us that asks the question, “Could I do that?”  Whenever we see a person earn a difficult degree or cross a big finish line we cannot help but wonder if they are different from us.  Do they have something we don’t?  Are we capable of the same accomplishment?
After watching two of my friends finish an Ironman Triathlon I couldn’t help but ask myself that same question.  “Could I do that?”  At first I dismissed the question.  It’s absurd.  Only other people do stuff like that.  Average Joe’s like me can’t do an Ironman, right?  After all, I’ve got kids and a job; I’m not the kind of guy who wears a Speedo and shaves his legs.  Still something in me couldn’t stop asking that question.  So I set out to discover the answer.  I decided to find out if I could do that.
When I first got into the pool at the fitness center I could barely swim two laps before I needed a break.  How was I ever going to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run 26.2 miles – all in a row?!  At first it nearly killed me to bike 20 miles.  Soon enough I could bike 25.  By consistently increasing just a little bit at a time, I was eventually swimming more laps and biking and running more miles than I ever had before. Whenever I looked at the entire event I would get overwhelmed and discouraged.  But I would force myself to just look at the small portion that was right in front of me.  I knew I could bike just one more mile.  I knew I could jog just a little bit further.  Large goals must be broken down and tackled one small piece at a time.
I often hear people say, “Oh, I could never do that.”  I want to tell them, “Of course not – you haven’t trained yet.”  That’s like thinking, “Oh, I could never play the piano.”  Well, you could if you took lessons and practiced a little everyday.
There is no single, huge workout that prepares you for an Ironman.  It is only through many consistent investments that we accomplish anything great in life.  Whether we are earning a degree, learning to play an instrument, or saving for retirement, we can easily become discouraged if we try to take on the entire mountain at once.  But with gradual change, anything is possible.
By focusing only on the small goals right in front of me and tackling one at a time an Average Joe like me was able to finish an Ironman Triathlon.  I answered the question, “Could I do that?”  And I learned a lot about breaking down large goals into smaller, more manageable pieces.  What mountain in your life appears insurmountable?  It’s amazing how everything changes when we start to view our marathon as merely a series of one mile jogs.
What goals are you pursuing right now? Have you broken them down into pieces?
Click HERE to friend David on Facebook or HERE to follow him on Twitter.  Check out his website, , for more information on the author and his forthcoming book!
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