The little things are what makes the difference

This blog post is a bit about sadness, a bit about happiness and a bit about running. Please bear with me, the running comes at the end, but I hope (if you do stick with me) it is worthwhile.

So then dear blog enthusiast, as I write this my life has almost completely fallen apart. Whilst I don’t want to go into the detail of why on here, suffice to say that in my desperation to keep everybody happy, do the right thing (or what I thought the right thing was) and spin a lot of plates I have spectacularly failed on all fronts. The metaphorical pot is well and truly bubbling over. The fat lady is singing.

This has lead to an inevitable slump in my mental health. For those of you who have suffered from depression, or know somebody who has, you will be all to aware that whilst you can occasionally get the “black dog” of depression under control, he is always waiting just round the corner to bite you on the arse.

Image result for black dog depression

Luckily for me, I can feel the black dog approaching these days and can do the things I need to do to keep him at a distance, to stay out of his shadow. Trying to exercise, reach out to friends, mindfulness, eat well, that sort of thing. Never the less, and despite doing all these things, I am still struggling to get out of bed on some days.

This morning was one of those days. As I lay in bed trying desperately to motivate myself to get up and go to the gym (which incidentally I did not manage to do) I received a WhatsApp message. The message was from an old running buddy, and simply said:

“Today I have realised how much of a positive influence you have had on my life. Thanks to music. Happy Friday :-)”

A very lovely message to receive, I am sure you will all agree. But it was the timing of this message that was so poingnant. The sender had no idea how tough I am finding my life right now. No idea that on this particular morning I needed a little boost. They just sent me the message because they were thinking of me, remembering a shared experience we had and the music they were listening to reminded them of that experience. It took the sender probably about 5 seconds to send that message, but it has had a MASSIVE positive impact on me.

I got the little boost I needed. I instantly felt so much better about everything. Out of bed I jumped, ready to face the day.

Image result for limp bizkit chocolate starfish and the hot dog flavored water
This is the music that reminded them of me. One of the best albums of all time!

This experience got me thinking about life and about focussing on the little things rather than the big ones. About setting goals. About striving for the best. I have been guilty, my entire life, of setting myself huge goals. Below is just a short list of some of these.

  • Complete an Ironman (when I had not done any exercise for the preceeding 15 years. None at all).
  • Be a good Dad – not happy with just being a good Dad, I must be the BEST Dad ever or I am failing.
  • 4 hour marathon target for my first marathon (failed abysmally).
  • Must be successful in career or business – I have no idea how I even measure this, but I know that even Alan Sugar levels of success will likely not be enough for me.
  • Run a 100 mile ultra marathon in sub 24 hours

There is nothing wrong with any of these goals; however I have a tendency to obsess on the big target and lose sight of the little things. To be good at running, you just need to consistely run over a period of time. That is it. Consistency is the key. Don’t skip sessions when it is raining. Stick to your training plan. Lots of little bits of effort add up to a big change in ability. I am AWFUL at doing this. Simply terrible.

To be a successful businessman you just need to do a little bit every day to drive your business or career forward. Not ignore it for months, then go bonkers for a day or two, then back to ignoring it. Small improvements or movement forward each day.

To be a good Dad, you need to do little things every day for yor kids. Even if there is not a tangible and immediate benefit to them, lots of small things add up to something very big.

To change somebodys day, even though you might not even know they need their day changing, all you have to do is send them a simple message when you are thinking of them. A small gesture, can have a huge impact.

I guess the moral of the story is that in life, in running, and in general, try not to sweat the big stuff. Take care of the little things each day and the big things will happen. Set yourself goals, but do not consider them a Sword of Damocles, hanging over your head ready to chop it off as soon as you fail.

Finally, to the person who sent me that message this morning, if you are reading this, then thank you. You have genuinely changed my day today and altered my outlook on life. Amazing how much a small thing can make a massive difference.

For the rest of you, why not try to be this person for somebody today? Why not send somebody a message when you are thinking of them? You never know, it might just make their day.

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