Approximately one year ago I decided I needed a major change. I was feeling very dissatisfied with many aspects of my life. I hated my job. I enjoyed my city, but I was no longer feeling fulfilled there. My roommate was less than desirable. I was tired of dating men who didn’t take me seriously at all. Even my running goals were stagnating. One night when I was feeling particularly anxious, I took out my favorite journal and I practiced some positive manifestation.
What’s that, you ask? In a nutshell, the main idea behind positive manifestation is that you will your way to success. Not just believing, trying, or saying you can, although those are certainly included. Rather, you use your will to attract positive energy to manifest into your achieving your goals. Some call it voodoo, some call it magic, some call it The Secret, and some call it bullshit.
Regardless of what you think of this strategy, one thing is certain: maintaining a positive attitude throughout difficult patches in life and having goals at the forefront of your consciousness is incredibly powerful.
That fateful night, I wrote in my journal the things I would like to change in my life. I did not use, I want, I think, or even I can. I used I will. I wrote down some general goals and then I took an hour-long run during which I repeated my goals over and over again until they were drilled into my head.
I used general goals because, for me personally, specificity is more unhealthy than it is helpful. Specific goals are what cause much of my stress in the first place. For a non-running example, I really needed a career change, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So I focused on what I want out of my career. I wrote “I will have a position that enables me to improve the lives of everyone who identifies as a woman.”
In reality, this could be a million different careers, and that’s the beauty of it! I recognized what I wanted, and I no longer felt like I was drowning in uncertainty. This realization gave me many options. Now, a year later, I have realized I want to become a lawyer. I 100% plan on using this strategy to help me choose and apply for law schools. I employed this strategy with other aspects of my life too, such as my living situation and relationships, and those have changed for the better.
And now I’m going to apply them to running goals! I’m not saying that if you simply write out some goals you will suddenly run twenty minutes faster in the marathon, but you must train your mind if you want to change your life or achieve difficult things. I actually wrote down what I wanted out of life, including running, in the next five years, and seeing it on paper helped me visualize my future, similar to Tea’s visualization techniques. I looked at my goals in my journal and read them aloud daily. I use at least one run a week for meditation on those goals: no music, no running buddies, just me, a trail and thinking about my future.
Many of us runners like to have specific time goals. But I’ve learned that I beat myself up when I don’t make a specific goal. I’ve been chasing a half marathon PR for four years now, and some days that number makes me feel like a failure. Instead of saying, “I want to run a 1:50 half marathon,” I will do better mentally if I say, “I will have a disciplined training season.” So if I focus my energy on having a more disciplined training season, I have to have faith that the specific time goal, that big PR, will come naturally.
Tips for using positive manifestation in goal setting.
1. Write down at least three goals and take some time to repeat the goals to yourself. Use the verb will. The word “will” doesn’t allow any wiggle room. It’s future tense! It will happen!
2. Keep the goals in a place you see them often. If they are on a post-it note on the mirror or a bedside journal, look at them everyday to re-focus your energy. Remind yourself that you deserve it.
3. To supplement your goals, pick out some good ol’ motivational quotes as mantras.
4. Even if it sounds silly to you, positive manifestation is called that for a reason, so: exude positivity. Don’t say one single, negative thing about your goals after you’ve made your decision!
By changing my mindset to I will, identifying general goals I wanted to achieve and specific things I wanted to change in my life, I am in a much better place than I was a year ago. Applying these aspects of positive manifestation to your life and running can help you move toward a future you want in a more intentional and focused way!
What do you want from your running career this year?