Yesterday I was running on the track and I began to think about those days where stopping to walk was just unacceptable - even if in my own mind. Although yesterday I was feeling good, keeping a comfortable pace, I did think about stopping to walk. It happened right after someone passed me on the track. All of the sudden I felt somewhat defeated and breathless, and I was running in a track meet all over again. But then I was overcome with great relief. I was not running in a track meet, in a cross-country meet. There was no coach or teammates or parents watching my performance. There was no one judging my running that day or comparing me to anyone else. I COULD stop and walk if I wanted to! So I did.
So after I decided to stop and walk, I began to think about life. Surprise, surprise! I get way to deep when I am running... Anyway, I was thinking about how life gets so busy, so full of errands and appointments and social obligations. How I used to feel so compelled to be perfect and on time and efficient and how I felt like I hadn't accomplished anything if I hadn't checked off everything on my to-do list that day. But I realized that the past few months I have slowly moved away from that pressure to keep going and going and going. Maybe it's because I knew that I might implode if I didn't stop going and going and going. Maybe it's because once I quit working and I knew what 30 free minutes was like, it gave me the added incentive to relax and figure out how to relax. I honestly think it's a combination of many things in life.
I typically make myself a to-do list every day. It's a habit that I cannot break after 10 years of doing this at work. I also record every appointment or reminder on my iPhone (formerly my Blackberry) as a matter of habit. But the difference now is that if I don't get all the to-do's marked off, who cares? There is always tomorrow! And if I didn't get it done today like I had wanted, maybe it wasn't all that important anyway? The pressure to get it all done has been somewhat relieved. And the guilt that used to accompany a missed to-do is pretty much obsolete.
Now don't get me wrong. I like to be efficient. I like looking at a completed to-do list and the sense of accomplishment when it is all crossed off. But I also don't mind taking a little time for myself now if it's needed and putting something off until tomorrow or the next day. I can stop and walk if I need to. If I want to.
We all have different lives, different obligations, different to-do lists. But I don't think we all stop to consider that despite all these things you really do have permission to stop and walk if you need to. And I highly encourage you to do it every now and again. And don't worry. You will still finish the race - who really cares whether first or last. Just finish!