Go as long as you can, and then take another step.” Step by step, this anonymous quote repeats in my mind as I run. For nearly two years, I have devoted the majority of my personal time to training for and competing in various 5K and 7K races. In fact, by the time you read this, I will have completed the first of hopefully many half-marathons. What began as an exodus from the psychological ills of my past has transformed into a beautiful—yet often painful—journey toward unlocking areas of new potential within my soul. Running is liberating for me. I can run with anger, sadness and, thankfully, even joy. What I have come to realize is that joy is not an abstract emotion acquired externally; joy derives strength from within.
We all experience different seasons in life. Some are full of despair, while others are full of bliss. Nonetheless, in this vast journey of life, we all must embrace what comes to us. In fact, the most profound personal growth often occurs during moments of uncertainty. Accepting the tough moments in life—and then choosing to allow those to serve as motivators for something positive—will help you to unlock potential. Kobe Bryant once said, “Great things come from hard work and perseverance—no excuses.” All the tasks on your plate and all the wonderful people you meet along the way serve a unique purpose. But you have to determine your level of devotion to the lessons you will undoubtedly learn with each new opportunity.
As the year ends, I challenge you to take time to reflect on the times this year you went as long as you could and still discovered a way to take another step. I am sure you will be astonished to realize just how far you have come by utilizing your God-given abilities. I am equally sure that you will recall moments when your best did not feel like enough, and your distance seemed only but a few steps. That is OK. You still kept going. That is why you are still here and thriving. Stop comparing yourself to others, because your only competition needs to be with the person you were yesterday. Despite economic inflation, political drama, civil unrest, natural disasters, your own personal trauma, and a whole host of problems throughout the world, you kept moving forward. This was neither a matter of fate nor luck. Your faith and resilience brought you to this moment. Embrace joy!
Most of us wait until December 31 to plan resolutions for the coming year. But I challenge you—and myself—to create resolutions long before 2024 arrives. How much more invested in fulfilling those goals would we be if we mentally prepared ourselves weeks in advance? “Before anything else,” Alexander Graham Bell said, “preparation is the key to success.” But our work does not and cannot stop with preparation. Again, quoting Kobe Bryant, “Mamba Mentality is a constant quest to be the very best version of one’s self.” Whether you apply this to your interactions with your family, work life, or personal training, settling for less than optimal performance is an ingredient within the recipe for failure. So make a concerted effort to start new routines and develop better habits prior to January 1, 2024. If what you want to achieve is worthwhile, you will invest in your plan rather than making excuses.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have two months to begin preparing for another year of opportunities disguised as adversity, and you are already uniquely positioned to achieve what you previously considered impossible. The civil rights leader and boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, once said, “Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.” There is much more to that quote, but I would like to make a point here. While you must invest in yourself, you should never lose sight of the important work of serving others. Whether you are actively involved in nonprofit organizations or you devote your time volunteering whenever an opportunity presents itself, please continue this important work. In a world seemingly dominated by egocentrism, find a way to prove selfless devotion to humanity still exists. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” Let us all strive to make 2024 the best year of our lives.