TGIF: Brian Costanzo

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TGIF:
This Goal Is Finished
Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!
If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.
You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

Today’s TGIF Achiever is an amazing mentor and leader for Matt, Brian Costanzo.  Although Brian has enjoyed plenty of career success, and deservedly so, the goal he chose to share with us to today is a personal one.  Brian did such an enjoyable job of telling the story that we are going to forego our traditional TGIF Interview format and let this achievement unfold on its own for you.

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Is it the Goal or the Journey?
By Brian Costanzo

Brian, his wife and two awesome children. 

My name is Brian Costanzo, and I am a runner. To me, running is my time to meditate, my time to dream big, and my time to reflect on how fortunate I am for my health, success and relationships.

Needless to say, I set goals in my life regarding running. So last year, I ran my first relay race (Ragnar) with 11 other crazy people who wanted to run 200 miles in a 36-hour time period with little or no sleep (and riding around in a minivan). Sounds like fun, right?

To achieve any plan, one must prepare and train. I usually run 3–4 times a week for roughly 3–4 miles at a time. To train for the relay race, however, it’s recommended that you put in 30-40 miles a week (with a long run of 10-12 miles) for a few months in advance of the event. My goal was to run my three legs of the race under a 10-minute pace (OK, young runners … I’m not in my twenties anymore when my pace was in the sevens. Oh, how I miss that speed!). The goal for our team, called WTF (Waynewood Track and Field), was not to end up in last place in our category.

Waynewood Track and Field: The WTF Team

We took off at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, 24 September, and made our way to Cumberland, Maryland. Before the race, I shaved the head of Ben, one of our team members! The race started promptly at 8 a.m. with the sound of a horn, and off our first team member went. That is when reality sunk in, and I was a little nervous! It was already 90 degrees outside, and it was expected to tip over 100— not ideal running conditions!

My first leg of the relay race was eight miles— two miles flat, two miles up, an eight-percent grade, and then a rolling path. To be honest, the eight percent was freaking me out. My team members assured me, however, that I had put in enough training and that I would be just fine. I also think it was the “unknown” of not having run three times consecutively in a day, with no sleep and in the dark in some cases. That said, we did do several night runs with headlamps during training. With anything I do, I look at the positives and look to overcome the obstacles. I said to myself, “Whatever happens today, I know it is going to make for a good story or two.” We cheered on as the runners transitioned, and then drove up to the transition point, where I was scheduled to receive the bracelet.

Chatting with Christa at the transition point.

Ben arrived while I was chatting with Christa at the transition point. I started my journey of eight miles slow and steady. Every time I run, I always remember what they taught me when I ran marathons years ago: Do not to go out of the gate to fast; pace yourself, warm up and then test your endurance. With that in mind, I ran for 2 miles along a country road, where I passed a few barns and houses. It was a great run, and I was falling into a rhythm, confident and assured that this would be a breeze!

The scenery during our run. 

Remember that grade? I was conveniently forgetting it. I was so caught up in enjoying the moment that I paused on an old rusty steel bridge to look at the running water and listen to how quiet it was. I told myself that I need to stop and take it all in. The real test for me came as I was climbing up an old gravel road for two miles at that eight-percent grade. As I approached the hill, with the temperatures in the 90’s, I looked around and there were four to five other runners ahead or behind me. Along the entire race, there was many times that our team van would stop and motivate each other. Unfortunately, on this leg I was on my own when I needed encouragement the most.

The first five minutes were good. I took shorter strides and worked my way up the hill. I thought, “OK, I got this!” As I climbed the hill, I was sweating more and more. I drank more water, and that helped a bit, but I could feel my pace slowing down … so slow that I could see a caterpillar crossing in front of me. Then a woman passed me! (Ladies, don’t take that the wrong way … it’s just a guy/ego thing). When I passed her, another runner passed us both. We must have gone back and forth several times. And as much as it pains me to walk on a run, all of us walked and ran up that damn hill. We inspired each other and ran together.

Working through a leg of the relay. 

With my team hopefully at the top of the hill to cheer me on, I found new inspiration in this team that was tackling the hill together. We found strength in each other. As we crested the top of that hill, hearing the roar of the crowd, we gave each other high-fives. I went on to finish the rest of that leg, and overall I met my under-10-minute goal. It is amazing to me that my sense of accomplishment was not finishing my three legs or running with our last runner at the National Harbor. No, my accomplishment was taking it all in along the way, bonding with my team—as well as my new “hill team”—and making it up that hill. Goals can be anticlimactic. We are driven in life to achieve a number or a finish, and I encourage us all to stop and think about all the ways we grow along the way. The journey.

This September, when WTF gets back together for Year 2, I will not have the same fears of the unknown. I will train mentally and physically to achieve the results that I expect. As my dad says, and as I tell my own kids, “Practice makes perfect.” One of my goals will be to run under-10-minute miles, but my main goal is to get to know the rest of my 11 team members better and to bring my camera to capture the journey.

TGIF: Nicole Hesson

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

The Achiever

Today’s TGIF achiever is Nicole Hesson. Nicole is a super energetic, spirited educator that Jaime met a couple years ago, and Matt had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. Upon first meeting her, you will see that she is very intelligent, creative, outgoing, and a little silly! Check out her awesome story of going back to school so that she can take on greater challenges in her life.

I am a Philadelphia native who recently moved back to get my doctorate at Temple University. I earned my BS in Biology at Davidson College in North Carolina. Go ‘Cats! I then came back north to earn my Master of Arts in Teaching at Johns Hopkins while teaching full-time as a Baltimore City Teaching Fellow. After a 3 year stint as a high school teacher, I dove into middle school at a DC charter school. After 7 years of teaching, I had taught 6 different subjects in every grade from 6th through 12th! It was a wonderful experience, but I was ready to transition out of the classroom and into the next challenge.

The Goal

The first goal was to take a class over the summer! The big goal is to get my EdD in Educational Administration.

Why This Goal?

When I decided to enroll in Temple, I wanted to get started right away. I didn’t want to waste any time. I figured a summer class was the best way to get the ball rolling. I intend to get my doctorate in as short a time as possible so I can put my skills to use somewhere that needs me!

The First Step

The first step was contacting my advisor and figuring out if I could take a class. And if I could, which class to take. It definitely turned out to be the toughest step (see next question)!

Challenges

First, my advisor went on sabbatical and was unavailable for consultation. After I contacted another professor in the program, I found out he had given me some incorrect information. (I had already started the process of lining up internships that I didn’t need.) Then, the professor I had contacted did not always answer questions in a timely manner and eventually suggested I wait until the Fall. Finally, I emailed the interim department head and she thought that there was a better program I could enroll in. But, she stated that I probably wouldn’t be able to transfer. I found out from the head of the other department that they were no longer accepting science applications. As you can imagine, at this point, I felt very defeated!

Staying Motivated

I knew I had been accepted to the program, so I tried to focus on the reasons I was accepted. I stayed focused on the fact that someone in the university had a concrete answer to all of my questions. I made it my goal to find who that person (or people) was (or were).

Who Helped?

I went to meet with the new interim department chair in person to solve the issues I was having. Dr. Caldwell – the interim department chair – eventually figured out that the program I was accepted to would work just fine for my life goals. She also signed me up for a summer course! She was the biggest help in achieving my goal. My family and friends were also extremely helpful by listening and helping to come up with solutions. I needed a lot of help focusing towards the end! Email and internet, of course, were a great way to contact people!

TGIF – Celebrate!

I spread the good news to all the people who had heard my plight, listened to my struggles, and tried to help! Then, I finished packing for my big move.

Advice

Remember that somebody, somewhere, knows the answer to the question you are asking. Finding that person might be difficult, but be persistent. Also, have a network to lean on. Sometimes, when you are too far in, it’s hard to see things clearly. A solid network of friends and family definitely helps with that.

What’s Next?

Next up is being a full-time student! I am enrolled for 4 classes in the Fall and am really excited. My long term goal is to be a professor for teachers who are preparing to teach in urban schools. I determined that getting a higher degree was the best way to do that. However, this class I’m taking called Leadership in Higher Education is making me rethink my plans about being a professor. Maybe a college presidency is in my future. Can I get back to you? J


TGIF: Becky Roemen and Chelsea Dennison

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TGIF:
This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.
You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter by clicking the button to the right.

This week we’re doing something a little different — we have two friends who set and achieved TWO awesome goals together.

The Achievers
Becky & Chelsea
This picture was taken before they each lost 25 pounds!

My name is Becky Roemen and I live in Alexandria, VA. I am originally from the Midwest but have been in the DC area for the past 12 years.

My name is Chelsea Dennison and I live in Arlington, VA. I’m originally from New Jersey but moved to DC for a job about 3 years ago!

We both work together in Alexandria at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The Goal
The goal was to lose weight and get physically healthy, which included running our first race.
Why This Goal?
Becky: I knew that I needed to set a goal to stay motivated with my exercise and diet. I chose to do the Race for the Cure because I could join a team of friends that were all running to honor a friend’s mother that is a breast cancer survivor. It was important to me to set a goal not only to keep me motivated, but that was meaningful.

Chelsea: I was finally in a place in my life where I was mentally ready to commit to getting healthy. Although I never considered myself an athlete, I knew that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and was determined to become a runner. By training for a race, it helped my goal to lose weight along the way.

The First Step
The first step was actually getting out of the house and onto the treadmill. We researched a variety of plans and both opted to try the couch to 5k. I’m not sure either of us completed the training program as it was laid out, but it got us out and moving for the first month.

Challenges
Becky: The first obstacle I faced was a mental one. I needed to overcome any doubts I had about being able to accomplish my goals. For me these were not easy to overcome but there are a few things that helped. The first was the encouragement from those who knew about my goal(s) and would check in on my progress. People believing in me was inspiring. The second was celebrating the small wins and sharing them. As I recognized each small victory, I gained confidence that I could make it to the next milestone.

The other obstacle I faced was travel. How would I continue to work out and eat healthy while I was away from home, especially when I was in another country? For this obstacle, I was surprised by the outpouring of good advice from everyone I asked regarding this challenge. I was clearly not the only one facing this dilemma. My lesson learned here was to share my fears and concerns because you may get more solutions than you ever expected.

Chelsea: I have always had issues with tight hamstrings and calf muscles, so running has never been the easiest for me. I am prone to shin splints and these tend to sideline me for quite some time. As I expected, I experienced a few bouts of the beginnings of shin splints and needed to step back and figure out a way to work through this obstacle. I did a lot of research and talked to friends about how they had overcome the problem of shin splints and then invested in compression sleeves for my shins as well as remembering to ice and stretch after every run. I also know that in building up my running, I can’t run more than 2-3 times a week to give my legs time to recover.

Staying Motivated
Chelsea & Becky on race day

Becky: I stayed motivated by reading blogs and magazines that were stories of people doing similar things or that had advice on how to accomplish my goal. It also helped to talk about what I was doing.

Chelsea: I read a lot of healthy living and fitness blogs and reading through other people’s goals, struggles and successes really helped to motivate me and inspire me to continue on my journey. I also kept a log of all my workouts to see how I was progressing towards my goal.

For our weight loss, we stayed motivated by sharing recipes, trying new things, cooking some of our meals together. We were also having a 15 week Biggest Loser competition in the office and that ignited both of our competitive spirits.

Who Helped?

We leaned a lot on each other in this process. If one of us was going to give up, the other would have too. This put the pressure on to keep going because suddenly we were responsible for more than our own success, we were responsible for the success of the other.

Becky: For me I also started taking classes at FitOne Studio. I signed up for their circuit training class to improve my overall strength and knew that having a trainer run those classes would help motivate me and encourage me to push myself.

Chelsea: Since I struggle with getting shin splints from running, I knew that cross-training was going to be extremely important in building my running base. I found that wearing compression sleeves on my calves was so instrumental to my recovery during and after a run. Since I consider myself a cyclist, I found that continuing my cycling workouts really helped improve my overall fitness.

TGIF – Celebrate!

Set a new one and registered for a 10k this fall! We also treated ourselves to some new clothes now that we are both over 25lbs lighter!

Chelsea, Right, and Becky, Left
Down 25 pounds!

Advice
Tell your friends what you are doing and find someone to keep you accountable. You will be surprised by the amount of support you receive. Also, celebrate the wins and small milestones during the journey.

What’s Next?
After our 10k to End Women’s Cancer in November, we have our sights set on a half marathon. Perhaps the Disney one in January. We will keep you posted!

TGIF: Heather McDaniel

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

If you are inspired by reading our achiever interview below and want to get on the achievement bandwagon, sign up for our next Goal Setting Workshop on June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

The Achiever

Today’s TGIF achiever is Heather McDaniel. Heather first crossed my path, quite literally, a few weeks ago (this is Matt). While visiting good friends, Jim and Amy, I saw Heather running down the street. But there was something quite unique about this runner (read more below). The unique thing that attracted me to Heather in first place turns out to be only one very unique thing about her.

After leaving Jim and Amy’s place, I couldn’t stop thinking about the runner that I saw. I asked my friends for help – if they saw this runner again I needed them to stop her and get her phone number. I needed to speak with her.

A couple of weeks later, I sat down with Heather at a Starbucks in Arlington and interviewed her. It was an honor and a privilege to spend time with this persistent woman and find out a little more about what motivates her. I hope you learn as much from Heather as I did!

My name is Heather McDaniel and I’m a 45 year old, very determined, very active woman living in Arlington, VA. I have a beautiful daughter and grandson in the area that I enjoy spending time with.

I am also visually impaired. There are many different levels of visual impairment, or legal blindness. My visual impairment includes total blindness in my left eye, and vision in my right eye of 20/2400. What this means is that the smallest letter I can see at 20 feet, could be seen by a normal eye at 2,400 feet. I was born with congenital glaucoma which was mostly under control until things got much worse in my early 30’s, resulting in 23 eye surgeries and much of my vision loss.

But as you can see below, I don’t let that hold me back from living an active lifestyle!

The Goal

My goal was to continue to stay physically active by running despite my visual impairment. For me, this means going for a run 5-6 times per week, at distances of 4-6 miles.

Why This Goal?

Running was always important to me. Even at a young age, I loved to run. I’ve run off and on for over 30 years, and I don’t ever want to stop.

I also want to show the world that just because you have an impairment, it doesn’t mean you have to slow down in life. I’ve heard so many people say (or yell out to me on the street), “don’t run, walk!” From the first time I heard that until now, I feel very strongly about proving others wrong about my ability. I don’t want the world to tell me what to do.

Maybe I’m a bit eccentric…J

The First Step

When my vision got significantly worse in my early 30’s, I desperately wanted to stay active. I began to do Thai Chi. This really helped me get through the hard times and relieve the stress related to being disabled.

In fact, Thai Chi also helped me get through the pain. I was experiencing very severe pain during and after all of my eye surgeries – it felt like someone was constantly punching me in the face. I didn’t want to over-medicate and use steroids too much for my pain, so staying active and increasing my intensity over time was an important step in getting started. When I think back on staying active in the beginning, I realize that I needed that SO much.

Challenges

As you can imagine, I’ve had my fair share of obstacles. Sometimes roads have unexpected bumps and cracks in them, or cars are parked in interesting places. I would have to find new routes, or ask for directions.

Aside from these physical challenges, I lot of people tell me I can’t or shouldn’t run. They tell me to slow down or to walk. They say that I’m going to lose the rest of my sight if I run. They say that I’m too thin and should slow down. Because I now run with a cane, people feel the need to help me.

In fact, one day after running in Arlington, VA, a woman stopped me at the bus station. She wanted to pray for me right then and there. She wanted to put her hands on my eyes and pray for a miracle. I said, “look, I’ve had to accept my disability and persevere in spite of it. My sight is gone and that’s a fact. But you can pray that the carbohydrates don’t go to my hips.” I didn’t mean to be rude, but I’ve learned to live with who I am. I’m visually impaired. It is what it is. She was as lost as I would be in a jazzercise class.

I don’t like when people try to stop me from running. I don’t need to be protected. People’s intentions are good but they need to be educated.

Running with a cane is an indirect way of educating people. I find that 95% of people are impressed and just want to ask questions, but the others just don’t understand a thing about visual impairment. Running is my little way of providing the public with sensitivity training.

Nature has given me physicality and so I want to use it. It feels good to inspire people and to show them that they don’t need to let anything hold them back.

Staying Motivated

At first, I exercised a lot in my room w/ hand weights and body bands. After awhile, though, that’ll make you claustrophobic. So, I joined the YMCA which got me out of the house. That kept me motivated to keep going because it was a new challenge. At the YMCA, I helped with an exercise class called Silver Sneakers for older adults and people with all sorts of impairments and disabilities. That was good for me to be involved in and kept me going.

Just like for any athlete, making progress in your physical achievements is a great motivation. In my neighborhood, I used to walk down steeper hills because it’s not safe to charge into something that is unfamiliar to you. After walking down the hills a few times, I started to pick up some visual cues. Then I started focusing on tactile cues – things I could feel through my feet and legs. Then I got used to what it feels like to run downhill. Now I can run down familiar hills just like anyone else!

Who Helped?

There have been a lot of great people that influenced me and kept me going. My father, Jim McDaniel, has been a great support for me. He is one of the most determined people I know. When I was young, he would call me Tiger, because I was so driven like him. My daughter is the same way – I am very proud of her. My late Grandmother, Ethel McDaniel, was also a great inspiration to me. I guess it runs in the family!

The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) is a great resource. It’s called “ENDependence” because they help end dependence of people with disabilities to create more independence within society. They helped me obtain housing recently in an environment that allows me to be much more active. They also provide peer counseling and other resources.

A local component of ADA provides complementary paratransit service for the DC Metro area by way of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This local affiliate helped me gain more access to public transportation. They also provided me access to a Travel Training Instructor who has been very helpful in ensuring that I can safely use public transportation to stay active.

TGIF – Celebrate!

Occasionally I’ll treat myself to some new fitness clothes because if feels good to be in shape and healthy. But really, what I love to do when I keep getting out there and achieving my physical goals is to celebrate by helping others. Not only do I enjoy helping others with disabilities stay active, but I’ll make sure my daughter and grandson have everything they need – like school supplies, toys, or just some shopping money. If feels good to be healthy and fit, but it feels great to give to others!

Advice

Well, first of all, it’s definitely important to see your doctor, get a physical, and make sure you are in a position to be active.

Also, whatever piece of mobility equipment you need – such as a cane or sunglasses, or special shoes – take it along with you. Don’t be afraid, shy, or intimated by using these tools, especially if it’s going to keep you safe and healthy.

One day, a bunch of construction guys gave me one of their brightly colored vests with reflectors on it. I was a little hesitant to accept it and use it at first, but then I realized that it’s really helping to protect me and keep me safe. Whatever it is, take it with you. Don’t worry about how you’ll look or what people will think of you.

Remember, you only live once. Why sit back? You’re the only one that’s going to take you from point A to point B. I feel empowered now by using public transportation. Same goes for running.

Whatever your goal is, do it for yourself.

What’s Next?

My next goal is to find employment. I’m currently job hunting right now. This goal is really important to me because no one wants to spend their life just taking benefits from others without trying to provide for themselves. I mean, there are resources out there to assist me and I appreciate and use them when I need them, but I don’t want to depend on those resources for my entire living. It feels good to work hard and provide for yourself.

Included in this goal is getting re-certified as a personal trainer. That would provide me a great sense of pride and allow me to do something that both earns money and keeps me active.

And finally, I’ve only lived in my current house for 9 weeks, so I want to continue to get settled and learn the area. There is so much to learn about where to go, how to get around, and all of the new people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet.


TGIF: Marlena McLean

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

If you are inspired by reading our achiever interview below and want to get on the achievement bandwagon, sign up for our next Goal Setting Workshop on June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Today’s TGIF achiever is Marlena McLean. Marlena comes to us from New Jersey and is avid reader and supporter of both Velocity and everyone that has shared their story with us on Fridays. We love featuring our biggest fans and are SUPER proud of her recent accomplishment. Check out Marlena’s story below!

The Achiever

My name is Marlena McLean. I am a social worker, but I am currently fortunate enough to be caring for my beautiful daughter full time. I also serve as the treasurer for a non-profit charitable organization created by family and friends in memory of my brother-in-law, Jim McLean. The organization raises money to award an annual scholarship to a graduating scholar athlete from our alma mater high school (www.mcleanscholarship.org).

The Goal

My goal was to run the Long Branch Half Marathon in Long Branch, New Jersey on May 1, 2011, preferably in less than two and a half hours.

Why This Goal?

I chose this goal, because I wanted to challenge myself and it was important to me to have a personal goal outside of being a parent. About six months ago, I began to run consistently as a means of improving my physical fitness and allotting myself personal time a few days a week. Prior to signing up for the half marathon, I had run two 5ks. I found that having those races scheduled motivated me to workout regularly. Two days prior to registering for the half marathon I had watched my husband, Justin, successfully complete his goal of running in the New York City Marathon. Watching Justin train and run the race was very inspiring. I wanted to experience the pride and happiness he emanated for days after he ran NYC.

This goal was also very important to me, because, in junior high school, I enjoyed running competitively. As a self-conscious teen, I gained confidence from running. Due to ongoing knee issues, I stopped running in high school. Since then, multiple professionals told me I could/should not run, because of my knee problems. I believe that anything is possible and I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible for me to run.

The First Step

The first step was to have the courage to sign up for the race. While this sounds simple, it was a big step for me. It meant that I was admitting that I would be capable of completing a half marathon. It also meant that I was committing to the training over the next six months.

Challenges

One obstacle I faced was finding the time to run. I feel that running with my daughter in the stroller compromises my running form, which meant I had to wait for my husband (or sometimes my mom) to get home from work so I could run. Scheduling specific days in which I was to run made it harder for me to back out of a run at 8 or 8:30 at night.

Injury (two, in fact) presented another obstacle. A foot injury prevented me from running in December. A hamstring injury sidelined me from about mid-February until mid-March. I began going to physical therapy for my injuries (if anyone in Central NJ needs an excellent physical therapist, I highly recommend Ric Costa at MARA Physical Therapy in Warren!). I tried to stay positive and began swimming to maintain my cardiovascular health.

Doubt was an obstacle I faced at times, especially when I was injured and unable to run as much as called for by my training program. Discussing my doubts with my husband often gave me perspective on my concerns and left me feeling encouraged. Recognizing that whatever pain or obstacle I was currently experiencing would not last forever encouraged me to move forward with my goal. Velocity’s Facebook posts also encouraged me. I remember experiencing a significant amount of hamstring pain on a run one month prior to the race. I felt very discouraged and I told my husband I was not sure that I would be able to run the half marathon. The next day I read Velocity’s T.G.I.F. about Irene Vatandoost’s recent success in completing a half marathon. Reading Irene’s post was very inspiring to me as she discussed doubts, obstacles, and fears similar to mine. In her post, Irene discussed concern about having to walk near the end of the half marathon (Congratulations to Irene who was able to run the entire race!). This may sound silly, but I remember thinking in that moment that it had not occurred to me that I could walk any of the race. Shortly thereafter I decided that I would be completing the half marathon whether I had to run, walk, or crawl!

Staying Motivated

I tried to keep my eye on the goal, and envision how proud of myself I would feel finishing a half marathon. On days when I did not feel like running, I reminded myself how good I feel when I am done with a run. I also reminded myself of something my husband said to me once: “The race is today.” Remembering that each run I completed was a step towards my ultimate goal was motivational to me.

Who Helped?

There were many external factors that contributed to my success. The most influential person was my husband, Justin. He believed in my ability to run a half marathon, before I even believed in myself. Justin helped me with a training plan and he provided me with a tremendous amount of encouragement along the way. He also adjusted his schedule, at times, so that he could stay with our daughter while I ran.

My mom also provided me with an incredible amount of support. She shared in my excitement and believed in my abilities from the start. She never doubted my ability to run the half marathon, despite my injuries. My mom also helped with childcare.

My weekly yoga class helped me physically, as well as mentally, by encouraging a positive outlook on all things, including my running. The concept of Chi Running allowed me to run without knee pain. I received very helpful advice and support from ChiRunning Coach, David Stretanski . David helped me make changes to my running form to prevent re-injury to my hamstring.

TGIF – Celebrate!

I got my medal and looked for my family at the finish line! I was thrilled! I also took some time to reflect back on the past year and the progress I had made.

Advice

When completing any goal, I think the most important step is to believe in yourself. I also think it helps to break down the goal into steps and to be patient with progress. I recommend developing a support system. While I always ran alone, talking to others about my running was helpful. I also found running “support” by reading various running websites, books, etc. Logging my training helped to keep me on task and allowed me to review my progress. Changing how I viewed success and failure also helped me achieve my goal. Initially, I defined success as completing the half marathon, but the day before the race I realized I had already succeeded by signing up for the race and training for it, despite some obstacles.

What’s Next?

I plan to keep running. I thoroughly enjoy the physical and mental challenges I experience with running. I will be running a 10k in June. I am also very excited to be running a half marathon with my husband in September!


TGIF: Karly Davis

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter by filling in your email address in the toolbar to the right.

If you are inspired by reading our achiever interview below and want to get on the achievement bandwagon, sign up for our next Goal Setting Workshop on June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Today’s TGIF achiever is Karly Davis. We are very proud of Karly for achieving a number of great things in 2011 and it’s only April! Karly attended our Velocity Workshop back in December and had a lot of BIG goals to tackle in 2011. As you can see below, she’s doing quite well!

The Achiever

My name is Karly Davis. I’m 29 years old and live (now) in Springfield, VA. I am originally from Harrisburg, PA and am a proud Penn State graduate! I work for an awesome association called the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)—at EO, we work to provide our members (leading entrepreneurs) with the tools, resources and expert connections they need to grow their businesses.

The Goal

I have 3 goals for the year. The goal I am highlighting today was to purchase my first home. I defined my goal in early December 2010. I indicated that I wanted to work closely with my realtor throughout the year (or however long it took!), search MLS listings, and continually educate myself on the home-buying process. I did not define success on this goal by ending 2011 as a homeowner, but instead wanted to be sure I found the right home and not “settle” just to say I accomplished the goal.

Why This Goal?

Purchasing a home has been in the back of my mind for a long time, I frequently thought about it, but the time never seemed “right” until now. Although it wasn’t a goal at the time, I had been building a savings account for this very purpose since I graduated college in 2004. I always said, someday…someday I’ll actually use that money for MY first house. The timing was right, my life situation was right and the money was in place, so this was the year I was ready to make it a reality. At almost 30 years old, I decided it was the time to put down real roots in the DC area and purchase a home!

The First Step

The first step I took was to connect with a real estate agent. My parents have bought and sold many of their own homes in Pennsylvania, so their realtor, Patrick, was my first contact. He gave me a brief overview of the industry and process then referred me to my realtor, Brenda, a very experienced agent here in DC/Northern VA. She and I talked on the phone about what I was looking for, what areas I was interested in, what was a “must” and a “definitely not,” and of course, my price range. She signed me up for the MLS email alerts based on my criteria and I began my search for my first home.

Challenges

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome was my own fear of the process. Being a first time home buyer, I felt very overwhelmed several times and even thought, “this is just too much, I don’t have time, or I have a great apartment—I’ll just forget this and keep renting.” It was hard to regroup after those overwhelming days but I had the right support in place to keep my goal alive. My parents, boyfriend and real estate agent helped me keep things in perspective.

Staying Motivated

I stayed motivated toward my goal by continually telling myself that people do this every day…If everyone else can do it, why can’t I? It’s overwhelming, yes, but there were plenty of resources and tools to help me learn and feel more comfortable with continuing to move forward.

Who Helped?

My real estate agent, and my parents were the essential mentors I needed to help me “trust the process.” They helped me learn about financing, interest rates, types of sales, inspections, contracts… the whole nine yards! I had a young, fun, creative agent on my side and the contract process was clearly her forte. Also, my lender, John, was a critical element to helping me understand all the financials with purchasing a home.

TGIF – Celebrate!

I was so excited! I put in my offer on the house on Friday March 11th and after only 1 counter offer, we finalized everything that same night. It was fast! I almost didn’t believe it. I started mapping out everything I wanted to do in the house, where my furniture would go, and how I’d decorate to make it “mine!” My boyfriend and I went to dinner the following night to celebrate!

Karly and Supporters at the signing!


Advice

Make sure you have the proper support in place, and educate yourself on the process. Ask questions of people you trust (friends, co-workers) and be aware that there are many different ways to achieve the goal of purchasing a home. There are different types of sales (regular sales, foreclosures, etc.) and many different types of loans (conventional, FHA, VA, etc.). There are also lots of different routes, financially, so don’t let ‘lack of money’ hold you back. Be aware that as a first timer, it will be overwhelming at times, but continue to tell yourself that you can do it. Also, be sure to pick an agent that fits your personality and is willing to fight for you, you may need that during the contract process. And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, even if they seem silly. Your agent and lender will expect lots of questions and they’ll gladly answer them – that’s their job!

What’s Next?

Next up is getting settled in the house and personalizing it! Closing was on April 14th and thankfully, my boyfriend and I now have all our furniture and belongings moved in. We’re getting comfortable and making minor upgrades. A few larger upgrades will come with time (new windows!), but everything is great. The house was a “flip” so most items are new (kitchen, carpet, paint, bathrooms, HVAC, heat pump, etc.).

I am also working on another goal of losing 40 lbs by September 2011. I am halfway to that goal, which I am also very proud of. I began this process in early December 2010. To date, I have lost 21.8 lbs and I feel great. I achieved this goal through Weight Watchers online, regular exercise, and an EO office competition called… The Biggest Loser! I organized the competition and it was a huge success! We had 13 participants and I ended the competition in 4th place. Here’s to losing 20 more lbs!


TGIF: Brian and YuRa Kimm

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Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week of achievement. If this is your first time reading our blog, Welcome! You can read more about Velocity in the tabs above this post. If you’d like a daily dose of inspiration, like us on facebook or add us on twitter. To the right, you can also subscribe to our newsletter and our blog!

Today we’re going to hear from two people that are very important to us – Matt’s brother- and sister-in-law, Brian and YuRa Kimm. They will be completing the formalities of a great achievement this week and we’re very proud of them. Brian and Yu Ra are two fun-loving, generous people and we couldn’t be happier for them. We also wanted to have a TGIF interview related to a financial goal, since we know that’s so important to many of our readers. Check out their story!

The Achievers

My wife and I are young professionals working in the DC metropolitan area. We have been married for almost a year and a half and are the proud sister- and brother-in-law of a certain Matthew Leedham!

The Goal

Our original goal was to save enough money to put towards the down payment of a home by Spring of 2010. This required us to sell our current condo and to time it so that we wouldn’t be stuck with paying two mortgages.

Why This Goal

Being newlyweds, we were looking to expand our living quarters from a one bedroom condo to a more sizable place. Also, for those familiar with the DC area, the Potomac River seems to be the Great Divide that is seldom crossed when it comes to living situations. You see, I displaced a Virginian. We Marylanders are a little more cool and collected if the need to cross the border ever arises (she’ll argue it’s because everyone wants to move to VA). The lesson is, never force a Virginian to move to Maryland.

The First Step

We calculated exactly how much money we needed to put aside each month to reach our target down payment amount and began depositing this amount into our “House Fund”. This required us to really clamp down on our spending habits while still remembering to enjoy our young marriage. Next we put our condo on the market hoping to put the earned equity towards our new home.

Challenges

YuRa and I attempted unsuccessfully to sell our condo. With the housing market in a continuous downturn and the number of foreclosures and short sales nearly in the double digits just within our own neighborhood, it wasn’t looking pretty. The highs from finding potential homes to the lows of not being able to put in an offer because we needed the sale for the down payment became tiresome after a few months and after looking at some 60-70 houses. After being unable to sell even with several price drops we took a hiatus from the home search for about 6 months. But trust me, the yearning to move never left during the time off. We had to accept the fact that it simply wasn’t our time. We had to wait.

So we had to change our mindset (more me than her) to rent out the condo. As a guy, I like keeping things simple…meaning, sell the condo and only worry about one mortgage. The horror stories I had heard about renting scared me and I didn’t want to deal with the potential headache.

Renting our condo meant no longer applying the equity of the condo towards the new home, which set us back one year to Spring of 2011. We had to budget even more to reach our target down payment amount. This meant on a monthly basis, figuring out our income and itemizing our expenses and setting aside the rest for our savings. This required a focused, constant, and frequent check, update, and revision of our budget. YuRa will tell you that I never let her shop (I love her so much for cutting back as much as she did, but she still shopped.)

Staying Motivated

I set up a spreadsheet to track our current savings and projections for growth. To see where we currently stood as well as where we would be in the upcoming timeframe made it feel our goal was more tangible. Seeing that we were meeting our monthly savings goal and seeing where we could be at various points in the future kept us on track.

Who Helped?

God provided when we placed our trust in Him. We tried to do everything our way and within our timeline but God made us wait and taught us to stay patient. In the end, we saved enough money for the down payment, found the perfect home and found a tenant to rent our condo all in His perfect timing.

Our family was definitely our support system and encouraged us to stay focused and to remain patient.

TGIF – Celebrate!

Once we were close to reaching our financial goal we tried our second attempt at house hunting and immediately found the perfect house for us. We put in an offer on the house and we’re closing on the property next week. We also placed our condo on the rental market and within 2 weeks, found a tenant! We are ecstatic. This is our first big purchase together and YuRa can’t wait to return back to VA.

Advice

Stay patient and stay focused. Don’t feel discouraged when things don’t go exactly according to plans. Sometimes these obstacles are in the way because there is something even better waiting for you in the end.

What’s Next?

YuRa’s goals are to shop, shop, and shop some more for the house. My goal is to keep that shopping under control.


TGIF: Matt Leedham

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Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week of achievement this week. If this is your first time reading our blog, Welcome! You can read more about Velocity in the tabs above this post. If you’d like a daily dose of inspiration, like us on facebook or add us on twitter.

Today we’re going to switch it up a bit and use this format to interview Matt about accomplishing one of his major personal goals. Matt’s written a lot of stuff on this blog, so feel to look around and read more about what he thinks and feels.

Now, onto the good stuff!

The Achiever

My name is Matt Leedham, and I am a married, Yankee-loving, marathon-running, dog-owning, native New Jerseyean, who is currently a Washington DC resident, and is passionately driven to help others achieve their goals. In my dream to change the world by building a community of achievers, I co-founded Velocity Goals with my good friend and former business partner, Jaime Willis. I also work extensively with entrepreneurs across the U.S. on strategic planning, goal setting and experience sharing at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.



The Goal

My goal was to finish a marathon (26.2 miles) in under 4 hours.

Why This Goal

In 2004, at the age of 26, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. I trained hard for months, but as the race got near, I let up on the training a bit. During the race, I ran into all sorts of trouble and there were times when I just stopped. I remember limping along Rt. 110 next to the Pentagon, grabbing my hamstring with my left hand and the highway guardrail with my right hand. It wasn’t pretty. I finished the race in what I considered a disappointing time knowing my potential – 4 hours and 34 minutes.

After that race, I quit running for awhile. I later learned that it is very common for runners and endurance athletes to completely stop doing what they trained for months to do after a big race. Race day is such a high, and without having plans for an upcoming event, it’s easy to just give it up. I would run occasionally but I stopped doing what I loved on a consistent basis.

Flash forward to 2009. I knew I needed to run. I was dealing with some stressful situations at work and was generally not happy with my fitness level. So, I decided to pick another challenging event – another marathon. It was the Fall, so I looked for a race sometime in the late Winter or early Spring, so that I would be forced to train all winter. That’s important because normally I would hibernate and become dormant all winter. I found an interesting race in Austin, TX, one of my favorite cities. It was on Valentine’s Day 2010 and I thought the wife and I could enjoy a nice weekend in a fun town. Plus my family has all migrated to Houston and I figured they’d come watch the race.

The First Step

The first thing I did was register for the race and booked my plane ticket. If you pony up the cash and put an event on your calendar, it becomes VERY difficult to back out. Think about it – you would lose money, have to make a bunch of phone calls, and tell everyone that plans changed. Once I commit to something like this, it’s on. That’s it. Get out of the way because I’m making it happen.

Challenges

For those of you that live in the DC Metro area or on the East coast, you may recall the winter we had last year in 2009/2010. I survived Snowpacalypse and Snowmageddon, but running in it wasn’t easy! In addition to massive amounts of snow, we also experienced ice storms, rain, and frigid temperatures. It’s not easy to get out of your car at 6:30pm in the dark, when it’s 18 degrees and sleeting outside, especially when all you have on is a few thin layers of DryFit or CoolMax running gear.

There were also many minor injuries. I remember one night, running in a light snow. My shins felt sore right away, but I needed to run 5 miles. I kept running, and it got worse and worse. I should have stopped, but I really needed to get in this run, so I kept going. Two miles later, I couldn’t run anymore. I could barely walk. I was about a mile away from home and would have called my wife if I had access to a phone. I slowly limped home, very distraught. This was about a month before the race and I knew I was in trouble. I almost gave up here because I know how bad shin splints can be. I’ve had them before and the only way to cure them is rest. Rest was not something I had time for and I didn’t see how it was possible to keep training.

I took three days off, iced my shins constantly, stretched out as much as possible, and tried not to walk more than was necessary. On the fourth day, I tested out my shins on a quick jaunt and they seemed better. I didn’t want to push it, but I kept running as was able to stave off further injury.

Staying Motivated

Planning my weekend in Austin with my wife was helpful. We both got excited about exploring the city, going to the Expo to pick up my race packet, eating lots of good food, etc.

Also, I knew that I had to average at least a 9-minute mile pace to reach my goal. I had gotten to a point in my training where I was running 8-minute miles for over 14+ miles. Knowing that I was averaging a pace that was significantly less than what I needed to finish in under 4 hours was really motivating.

Who Helped?

My wife is amazing and supported and encouraged me the whole time. She was very understanding when my training affected our dinner plans or weekend plans. She kept me focused on the goal and I love her for it.

I also met up with a fairly casual running group called Potomac Runners. They’re a great group of people that are very passionate about running. Having that support was essential.

I knew a couple of guys in Austin who were running the race and they were really generous with their time and knowledge of the course.

Of course my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch was amazing! It helped me track my pace, distance, and heart rate. This actually came in very handy during the race when I noticed my heart rate spiking after climbing a hill. I was able to regulate and get back to where I needed to be to finish the race strong.

TGIF – Celebrate!

My goal was to finish in under 4 hours. When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, I welled up inside. I finished the Austin Marathon in 3 hours and 41 minutes, well under my goal time. I crushed it. Then I went over to my wife and she was so genuinely ecstatic, that I welled up again. It was actually quite emotional.

Then, my wife and I joined some Austin locals for a post-race meal. It was one of the best meals of my life. After burning 3,000 calories, I really enjoyed my cheese smothered, chicken quesadilla at one of the best Tex Mex joints in town. A couple margaritas were a nice touch too!

Advice

My advice for race day is: just keep moving. There were times that I wanted to quit. There were times when I hit the wall. There were times when I was running up a hill and was literally angry about it. There were times when I was tight, or dehydrated, or in pain. But I remembered repeating to myself, over and over again…just keep moving. It was that feeling of disappointment from the Marine Corps Marathon in 2004 that kept me focused. I figured that if I just kept moving and didn’t stop, even if I slowed to a snail’s pace, that I would finish with a better time. It turns out that I was right.

Just keep moving.

What’s Next?

I just signed up for a triathlon in August, 2011. Jaime and I are hosting a triathlon training program, specifically geared toward novice athletes that may have never completed a triathlon before. We want you to feel like I felt when I crossed that finish line. Join us!

TGIF: Jackie Weisman

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter by filling in your email address in the toolbar to the right.

If you are inspired by reading our achiever interview below and want to get on the achievement bandwagon, sign up for our next Goal Setting Workshop on June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Today’s TGIF achiever is Jackie Weisman. Jackie is one of the most kind-hearted people we know, as evidenced below by her ongoing goal of saving the world! She’s also quite busy, but seems to fit it all into her schedule. Read more about how Jackie is making in impact in the local community and loving every minute of it.

The Achiever

If only I could sum myself up in a few short sentences! Being as ADHD as I am, I prefer phrases: 20-something, social media guru for Color Coded Professional Organizing, entrepreneur wrangler for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, volunteer for Pathways of Northern Virginia, chronic hobby-er, Navy sister, professional organizer, wedding planner, weight watcher except when I’m enjoying great food.

The Goal

This is a tough question since I tend to think of goals in a traditional sense – this is what I am going to do in this time frame. But most of my goals are a work in progress, or on-going goals that not able to be checked off a list. One of those goals is to give back to the community using my time and talent, or as I like to put it, attempting to save the world. What does that include? Reaching out locally to make a difference by volunteering, donating and educating myself.

Why This Goal?

I can’t say there was a time when this goal popped in my head and I set out to accomplish it. I grew up in an area of Maryland that has many disadvantaged families, so I was aware of poverty early on. My parents were amazing role models who encouraged my brother and I to donate toys, adopt a family around the holidays, help make meals during Thanksgiving and be aware of how blessed we are to have many things others do not.

The First Step

It’s so easy for me to say ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I can’t make that big an impact’, but when I realized all the opportunities and small ways I could make a difference, there was no room for excuses. The first step was to find opportunities that fit in with my lifestyle. I clearly could not take a year off to live in Haiti, but I could donate money to Red Cross. I couldn’t go back to school to be a social worker, but I could volunteer once a month at a shelter. The most difficult part was downsizing my goal of changing the world, and breaking it into a smaller, more realistic goal of starting locally.

Challenges

As a newlywed, dog owner and someone who juggles multiple jobs, finding free time is a challenge. First and foremost – if everyone used that excuse, nothing would get done to help a vast number of people. Also, there are SO many opportunities and causes, it would be impossible not to find something that fits in with my lifestyle. I spent time looking at causes that are important to me, but I knew that volunteering at an animal shelter wouldn’t make me happy (However, it would make me a multiple dog owner – not good!), so that cause was taken off my list of possible places to volunteer. Just because you are passionate about a cause doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. There are plenty of opportunities behind the scenes. Also, some of the organizations looking for volunteers require a lot of training and time commitments, which I didn’t have time for. It took awhile for me to find my regular volunteer position, one that worked for my schedule and my interests.

Staying Motivated

I won’t lie; it’s hard to make time to volunteer. But I knew from experience, once I got there and saw the difference I was making, and the difference it makes in my life, the inconvenience of it was forgotten. Knowing that I am giving back to my community was extremely rewarding.

Who Helped?

Aside from my families influence, I utilized sites like Idealist to find opportunities to use my skills. I signed up for local organization’s mailing lists so I can be aware of volunteer and in kind needs. Though I volunteer on a regular basis for Pathways of Northern Virginia, I do other one time things like sending magazines to the troops, donating to Goodwill and giving money to organizations that help my causes.

TGIF – Celebrate!

As you can see, my goal will never be finished but the goal of volunteering on a regular basis has been accomplished. I celebrate that by looking forward to my regular ‘gig’ at Pathways, and being happy that every now and again, I can contribute in small ways with other opportunities. I’ve figured out that no one is going to save the world alone; it’s an on-going and joint venture.

Advice

Start small! Reflect on what causes are important to you and find ways to support them locally. If you can take a year sabbatical and go save the rainforest, that’s awesome. But if you can’t – you can always drop off some old clothes to Goodwill or canned food to your local food pantry; you can always find one night a month to make a small difference in one person’s life.

What’s Next?

While I still teach crafts to a group of lovely ladies at Pathways, I am always looking for different ways to give back. My brother is deploying again this fall to Afghanistan, so everyone around me will have the chance to help put together care packages for the troops. I am also working towards becoming a full time professional organizer.

TGIF: Sam Horn

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Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week of achievement this week. If this is your first time reading our blog, Welcome! You can read more about Velocity in the tabs above this post. If you’d like a daily dose of inspiration, like us on facebook or add us on twitter.

Our Achiever this week is the amazing Sam Horn. A six-time published author, public speaker, and a business dynamo, Sam is also an enthusiastic giver and a warm friend. Having met Sam personally, if you have a chance to see her speak or an opportunity to read her books, TAKE IT. Without further ado, Sam Horn!
Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, is an award-winning communication strategist with a 20 year track record of results with an international clientele including Intel, Cisco, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Fortune 500 Forum, NASA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, KPMG and Capital One.

A couple other notes about Sam:

She is the author of 6 books from major publishers (Tongue Fu!®, POP!, ConZentrate, What’s Holding You Back? and the upcoming SerenDestiny) which have been translated into 17 languages, endorsed by Seth Godin, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, John Gray, Susan Jeffers, Jeffrey Gitomer and Ken Blanchard and featured in NY Times, Investors Business Daily, Boston Globe, and the Washington Post.

She’s a 17-time Emcee (and former Executive Director) of the Maui Writers Conference, who has worked alongside Hollywood Directors and bestselling authors including Frank McCourt, Ron Howard, Mitch Albom, Garry Marshall and top agents and editors in the publishing industry.
In 2009, I made a commitment to compete in and complete the Waikiki Rough Water Swim. This is a 2.35 mile swim in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean along Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii.
I’m reminded of two quotes:


Johnny Depp – “Nobody wants to go out mid-sentence.”

Frank Sinatra – “You gotta live every day like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right.”

It’s amazing how we can lose velocity in our life and get caught up in commitments and responsibilities. Swimming once defined me. But this thing that I loved so much got lost in the midst of my busy life as a business owner who’s often on the road speaking. I chose this goal because of something I saw one morning in my home town of Reston, VA. I live on a lovely lake, and every Memorial Day Weekend, we host a national open water swimming competition. From my porch, I could see the swimmers gathering near the starting line. The different age groups wore colored swim caps that indicated their age group and predicted finishing time.

BANG!

The starter’s pistol fires and the first group jumps in the lake – a group of young, athletic swimmers competing to win.

BANG!

The second group dives into the water – this time a group that is a few years older or not quite as fast.

This continued a number of times until the last group entered the race.

BANG!

The 80 and above age group jumped in and cut through the water. I thought to myself, “80 year olds?! What am I doing sitting on my porch?”

What many people don’t know about me is that I used to swim competitively in college. In fact, I studied and majored in Recreation Administration, and paid my way through college by running recreation programs and coaching tennis and swim teams. I lived in Hawaii for 17 years and was in the ocean at least 4 times per week. Swimming was a big part of my life.

When you see 80-somethings out there being physically active, it reminds you of your own mortality. Not in a morbid way but in an “Am I taking advantage of my freedom and health or taking it for granted and wasting it?” kind of way.

I realized there were no barriers to entry to getting back into swimming. It’s not hard on your knees. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or how out-of-shape you are. No expensive equipment. No excuses. Anyone can do it anytime they want.

Committing to a public event, race or competition and putting it on your calendar is the best way to get out of inertia and into motion.

Once you’ve literally and figuratively “signed up” and “paid up”, you’ve emotionally “signed on.” The goal becomes a given. Now, all you have to do is figure out how to reverse engineer from there how you plan to achieve it.

The best intentions of getting back into something you love (or starting something new) can fall by the wayside when dealing with the daily pressures of an obligation-packed life. Unless you have something tangible on your calendar you’re working towards that helps hold you accountable.

The Japanese have a strategic planning process known as Hoshin Kanri (which is literally translated to “shining metal, pointing direction” – or in other words, a compass). Part of the theory is that if you start with a problem and try to fix it, your mind will always remain focused on the problem which is a way of anchoring you in what was wrong.

But if you think of perfection (the future) vs. the problem (the past), you stay focused on your outcome, which means it’s no longer in question or in doubt. It’s assumed. Instead of getting distracted or detoured by daily “Should I – Shouldn’t I?” decisions, you’ve made up your mind to do this – all you have to do is stay on track.
I don’t look like a swimmer or an athlete right now (or then). If I let this be an obstacle, competing in and completing that race never would have happened.
Malcolm Gladwell once said, “All I ever see at gyms are fit people getting fitter.”
There are a lot of people who won’t train for a swim because they don’t like how they look in a bathing suit. Some people are discouraged from running a 10K or a half-marathon because they don’t look like the hyper-fit runners they see on the trail. Some people don’t go to the gym because they don’t want to look in the mirror or work out next to lean, hard bodies in spandex.

For those who may think, “I’m not an athlete,” I recommend Mariah Burton Nelson’s insightful and inspiring book, We Are All Athletes.
Doing it is its own best reward. For me, powering through the water is one of life’s great joys. It’s hard to believe something so rewarding – something that once defined you – is no longer a part of your life. Once you start swimming again, it’s as if nothing’s changed. When I’m swimming, I don’t want to be doing anything else. It’s its own best incentive.

My sons. Andrew volunteered to swim the race with me (see picture above). My other son, Tom, served as support crew. They both value their health, keep themselves fit and are wonderful role models for me to get up and get moving.

I celebrated with my sons and family friends after the race. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting at an ocean-side restaurant, debriefing the event and drinking iced-tea after iced-tea to rehydrate. It was such a perfect, blessed day. When you achieve something you’re proud of and get to share it with people you love, you are just lit up. What could be better?

BUT…
Once it’s over, it’s important to put a new event goal on your calendar again.
The 1st thing you should do is sign up with Velocity! The 2nd best thing to do is to seek out an accountability partner to help you along the way. Find a buddy so on the days you’re little light on commitment, they will be there to get you in gear. And when they’re feeling a little lazy or unmotivated, you’ll be there.
Next, realize there is always somebody out there who wants to achieve a similar goal as much as you do – whether that’s participating in the Susan B. Koman Breast Cancer Walk, writing a book, or starting a business. You’re not alone. There are resources and networks available waiting for you to reach out.
On any given day, we have the freedom to get off the couch, pick a tangible goal and work toward it. And I am not using the word “work” casually. The benefits that come from establishing something meaningful and investing “sweat equity” to pull it off – no matter what – provides a recurring momentum in our lives. It provides velocity.
As test pilot Chuck Yeager said, “At the moment of truth; there are either reasons or results.” At the end of my life, I want results, not reasons for why I didn’t do what I knew was right and wanted to do.My mantra for this year is “contrast.” My goal is to do the opposite of my “always.”
It means looking at routines and habits and asking if they’re serving me or sabotaging me. So, if I normally focus on pragmatic ideas people can instantly use in their professional lives; I now include personal stories to balance that “neck up” intellect with embodied, heartfelt emotion.
I’ve spoken primarily in the U.S. (more than 30 states) so this year, I’m going on a speaking tour through Europe – to Russia, Germany, England, France, Spain Netherlands and beyond, and already have a relationship with British Airways.
As an entrepreneur, we often end up working solo; so I’ve become involved in a mastermind group and I’ve sought out strategic partnerships which have already enriched my life in ways better than I could have imagined.
I have always been grateful to do work I love that matters with people I enjoy and respect. Changing up patterns and committing to “Do the New” has made my personal and professional life even more fulfilling.