How to Get Clarity in Your Life
I clinched my fist, pumped my arms, and churned my legs as fast as I could. My lungs were on fire and my heart felt like it might leap out of my chest. I felt a sense of relief when I crossed the finish line and the sound of people cheering me. It was my very first road race, I was eight years old.
I begged my dad to enter me into the race. I’m not sure what I expected, but I just wanted to give it a try, because I observed my dad race and finish several road races that year. His actions inspired me, so I decided I wanted to race as well. I finished pretty high up in the pack. I finished well enough that my dad thought I cut the course. A few days later he took me for a run at the local YMCA in downtown Anderson, Indiana, to assess my running potential. He later recounted how he came home that night and told my mother, “He’s for real.”
The day I entered my first race set into motion a chain of events that led me onto a prosperous and joyous path of life lessons, high school accolades, the opportunity to attend the United States Military Academy, and a life of fitness and health that I still enjoy today. All of that was a result of a single action, a decision, to start the race.
I often find myself staring at my young twin boys across the dinner table. I was their age when I began a life of running. I had no clue what I was doing or what laid ahead, I just ran my race. I fantasize about what they will become and what they will make of their lives, but I stop short of searching for clarity for them, because I fully understand the purpose of clarity now that I’m 41 and understand there is a greater power over clarity. That greater power is ACTION.
I fumbled through life, during my thirties, trying to figure out what I wanted to do and what direction I should take. I tried to clarify my life, to make sense of how I should leverage my talents. I stressed myself around the idea of clarity and that I must obtain it before I could move forward on my path. I was wrong. I was reminded of that fact this past summer as I rediscovered my love for running with my son, Ryan.
I invited Ryan to run with me one afternoon. We ran four miles together and he talked my ear off the whole way. He laughed, told me stories of kids at school, and opined why one super hero power would be much better than another power. Ryan continued to run with me a couple times a week. He didn’t like it if I pushed him, he just wanted to run. One day I looked down at my watch as he was recounting a story about his sister, and how she annoyed him that day. I noticed we were running at a 7:30/mile pace. Not bad for an eight year old kid.
A few weeks later, I entered Ryan in a small local 5k race, his first official 5k. I ran with him and he kept a steady pace throughout the race. He placed 2nd overall and won a $50.00 gift certificate. I was pumped for him, but he didn’t seem to care, in fact he was dismissive about the whole thing. He just seemed content with hanging out with me and maybe heading to GameStop later that day to use his prize money to get a new game. I thought it was odd that he didn’t seem to care that he came in 2nd overall and was able to defeat grown men and women and other kids his age, but then I was reminded of my own experience when I was his age and realized I was probably not much different. I didn’t need to figure it all out then, and I don’t need to figure it all out now, I just need to enjoy the moment and continue to run with my son until clarity comes for him, when it’s time.
What running has taught me over the years and what my son, Ryan, reminded me was that clarity does not come through sitting behind a desk, filling out a goal sheet, or coming up with a detailed plan. Clarity comes as a result of action. Take action first and clarity will come behind it.
It’s in the moments when we step out in life that we discover things about ourselves. Sometimes we get negative feedback and we alter our path, other times we discover something beautiful and we explore that area of our life further.
Life is a journey of discovery that only starts when you take action and enter your own “race”. So stop standing on the sidelines trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and start doing it. Get in the race, and life will come to you. What action can you take today that will get you in the race?