Focus

Are you losing focus? I am.

I never understood why some bloggers seemed to fade away after they finally hit that big goal (in my case it hit me). Until now. Lately, I’ve really found myself losing focus on goals, running, work, life, everything.

Here’s what happens, I think.

You have this goal, a marathon, an ideal weight, a mountain to climb, your perfect job, whatever. You write a blog about it, you talk to people about it, you make friends who have a similar goal. The goal becomes your passion. You center your entire alotment of free time around it.

The energy for all this activity comes from the motivation of achieving your goal. You can work harder, move faster, be more efficient because your whole body and soul are focused on that one thing.

Then that goal becomes an obsession, and for the sake of the goal, you begin to edge out crucial things in your life like sleep, family, and work. A few more minutes a day away from those things is worthwhile because you can justify it in the name of the goal.

Did you buy a new magazine subscription that supports the goal? New clothes? Make new friends? Put up posters or buy a calendar? How about a screensaver? I did.

By this point the goal becomes an obsession. You dream about it and think about it when you wake up. Sometimes you are in pain or uncomfortable because of it, but you endure these things for the sake of achieving it. And maybe that’s what its all about. Obsession. Great things were never accomplished by people with a passing interest.

After all this, you finally make it. The scale gives you that magic number, you cross the finish line, or your new employer hands you your first check. Life is good. You made it and you bask in the glory for few weeks while friends and mentors pat you on the back. Then you wake up one morning and realize you have no idea what you are going to do now.

Somehow, that poster that says “You can do it!” seems kinda silly, because you already did. And a big poster that says “I did it!” is just strange after a few weeks. All that energy is gone now because the goal has been achieved and the motivation to keep running past the finish line just isn’t there.

This is where I am. I can’t concentrate at work. I’ve been running everyday that is on the schedule. The runs aren’t too hard and yesterday I did my 5 miles at sub 9:00 which is the fastest I’ve been running since Detroit. No real injuries. Stuff is sore but nothing broken really at this point. Yet, I come home and find that I can’t think about the holidays coming up, can’t seem to remember to pay the bills when I should, and I have a million Christmas cards to send. A dozen emails to return. A thousand truffles to make and send. The posts here have been sparse and I missed Chocolate Friday again.

I find all that I want to do is sit and type on the computer and hide from the world, which is not a very good place to be. Mentally or physically.

I’ve got a goal for a race and everything, but somehow the motivation is lacking. There’s no fire. They say you can’t run your next race until you’ve forgotten your last one. Its hard to forget, and maybe that’s the problem. I don’t know. When I’m running I end up thinking about the marathon and how I felt. I try to think about The Bay, to get myself motivated for it. I look at the videos and know that all the training in the cold is going to pay off (there’s snow in the videos!). Yet again, its not working like it used to.

Maybe it comes from having not done so well in Detroit. Missing a goal was really hard for me, and I remember when I used to train, I would think about hitting the goal. Sometimes about breaking it. Maybe an “official” improvement is where the motivation comes from, and I haven’t done much in that category for a while.

Sometimes I think if I could find a fun 5K some place, and run it and do well, that it would help. Somehow I do better in the shorter races than the longer ones. But I know that I’m very slow now. The “speed” is returning, but I’m a long way from where I was in the spring last year. The extra weight doesn’t help either.

This has been a long rambling post with alot of whining, I know. It helps to write it all out and get it out there. If I can write it all down, then maybe it won’t be floating around in my head and I can concentrate on some of the more important things that I seem to have lost focus on.

Comments

  1. I’m in the same shoes you are right now (well maybe smaller shoes)but I can’t articulate it quite as well as you just did! January 1st and a new year should help, especially after reading everyone elses goals for the new year. I’m just going to sit back and relax about it until then and after the holidays maybe I’ll get a kick in the pants??

  2. Jon, you always seem to say what’s on my mind…and say it so well. I’ve also had a lot of stops and starts lately. It’s hard to get focus back. Don’t be too hard on yourself (I’m not!) The new year will bring renewed hope, inspiration, and desire. I just know it.

  3. I hate the echo the comments above, but I can relate as well. I’m taking a planned “vacation” from running the first 2 weeks of 2006 and hope to return revitalized. Now, I just need to find that next big goal race. Keep fighting the good fight.

  4. Deene was here..

  5. good post jon, i feel the same way. you were better able to put it into words (you saved me a post! heh). sometimes, i don’t think its necessarily a bad thing to sit back and reflect, and wait or figure out what it is that will be the next thing to motivate you. something or some people always seem to come along to help inspire eh? good job on that sub 9 5-miler. your body is ready and your mind is just searching for that extra motivating factor to kick in, seems normal to me!

  6. I recently got a lecture about this very thing! I was telling someone that I was having a hard time “seeing” where I needed to get to. There response was that it wasn’t about the destination (the goal) it was about the journey there. Hmmm…I was about to go mental on their ass…I mean, what’s the point of driving around if you have know idea where you’re going, right?! Or maybe, my friend was right. Maybe it is more about whether you love the process of getting there. It’s work a little more thought. If there was no race in sight, would you still run?

  7. This is not unusual at all. Females who give birth go through post-partum depression. Athletes who compete and achieve their goals go through what you are describing. I am not sure if anyone has given it a clinic term yet but it is real.

    Guess what, keep on keeping on. Time is the biggest factor in “healing”.

    Suggested reading on this is Mastery by George Leonard. Small book with a powerful impact. Enjoy the plateau!

  8. Obsession. Addiction. Passion. Dependency on a commitment made or persuaded. Sometimes you have to strip it all down to the essentials where nothing and nobody bothers you. “Okay face in mirror. What do you want next? What are you afraid of?”
    I think of the quote on Susie’s refrigerator (paraphrased): Do something every day that you don’t think you can and you will.”

  9. i read this earlier, and didn’t comment because i had too much to say. i’ve boiled it down to saying that you’re going through what *every* *single* other first time marathoner seems to go through. but i’m pretty sure you knew that.

    i think (but don’t really know) that there is a crossroads here. either you go on to be a runner (+/- marathoner), or you go back to your previous life and chalk up this experience as a “life accomplishment”.

    since i’m in the same place as you i can’t give any real advice, but looking forward to the next challenge and keeping on training is the way i’m doing it. i’m hoping that it will just become a part of my life – a part that i don’t constantly think about and analyze. a part that’s just there.

    know what i mean?

  10. Great post Jon.

  11. The focus thing…I think that is why I gave up just having a running blog. Because duh, I”m not even running right now, so you can only talk about that so much. I like the randomness blog because unless you lose your luster for life you have plenty to say…or at least I do…it seems

    I enjoy reading your posta and comments all over the net, dont’ worry you just have the OH MY GOD too much too doo christmas blues

  12. Ditto on the funk and lack of focus. I’m back on my feet and training has been a chore until yesterday. I took a path I hadn’t done in a while, and didn’t look at my watch except to know when to turn around. Magic. Now I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s run.

    And thanks to whoever wrote the comment about “doing something every day that you don?t think you can and you will.? Goes on my fridge tomorrow.

  13. I went through this “marathon withdrawl” the first couple days after I ran my first marathon, but then a few kind words from some special Blogger firends reminded me that I had just accomplished something amazing, I ran a marathon! After that it was no longer important that it took an hour longer than I had planned. And somehow the aches, pains and wall-hitting experience dimmed. Then I just decided that the only way to shake the blues was to get up and get moving. So I just set a new goal and have kept the feet moving ever since! And this is the advice I leave with you my friend.

  14. Jon, I still am a long way off reaching my goals so I won’t be feeling this for a long time but I will ensure I keep on making new goals so it won’t happen.

    Sorry Detroit was so dissapointing for you. I know how you feel as I look back on how I was 6 months ago and where I am now and I feel so disheartened.

    2006 is going to be “the year”

    I won’t be blogging till after December 25th so wanted to wish you a brilliant christmas and look forward to reading to 2006

    -xox-

  15. I think a lot of people are feeling that way right now due to all the crazy things you have to do this time of year – the cards, the candy, the shopping, the list of things I NEED to do is always in my head and it makes it hard to do the things I want to do like have a good run. The cold temps and lack of sunshine when I’m not at work don’t help either. Hang in there, you’ll be back in the groove before you know it!

  16. I believe life is a lot like the ocean. Waves roll in, waves roll out- you and it sounds like a lot of other people are in a low wave right now!! Don’t worry the moon will pull you out into a giant fun wave. You’ll be riding the waves again before you know it!! Boy it sounds like I should live in far-out hippie California, not stuffy, snooty Connecticut!

  17. I’m right there with you. Hey, maybe we should form a support group. I keep telling myself that I don’t want to fall into the ‘new year’ group but I can’t seem to get myself jump started anymore. Maybe I just need a new battery. Hang in there. :-)

  18. Jon: Great post. You’re spot on in that once the goal was achieved (after sacrificing so many other things) it wasn’t that big of a deal, and it wasn’t as satisfying as maybe you thought it would be. As much fun as it is to set a goal for a competition/race, it’s so hard to strike the proper balance. When it’s all said and done, you’re family will always be there for you, and as much as we may push them to the perimeter for immediate short-term goals, we’ve gotta remember we couldn’t even to being to achieve our little goals without them and their support. I know there are times I sacrifice time with family for workout and definitely for the demands of grad school, but in the overall big scheme of things, if anything should cause me to permanently alter my priorities from God, Family, and Chiropractic (IN THAT ORDER), then I need a good kick in the ass. Anyway, I the fact that you acknowledge that you’ve created a training obsession and that you see that it can begin to make you feel empty is a good starting point for you to start spending time with what really matters most to you. If you sprained your ankle and couldn’t run for 6 weeks, or if something terrible happend to a close family member…you’re entire focus on running and training would change. But does it have to be these obscure events that cause us to re-evaluate our focus? Or is it just the realization that they could happen and that our hearts and minds aren’t where they ought to be that helps us to re-shift our focus and put energy where it should have been before.

  19. I just love you;

  20. Jon, I am so completly nodding my head, and agreeing with everything you said. All the training, and then an injury 2 weeks before the half. Kills the motivation. that and the holiday parties!

  21. there’s really not a whole lot to add. i’ve felt the same thing, for a while now. and like jack said, you either gear up and go again, and this becomes a way of life, or you go “that was amazing” and have this experience to always look back on.

    only time will tell! but good luck to you!

  22. I think you are right on.

  23. I’m no different from everyone else in that I truly relate to this post. I felt the exact same way after I ran my marathon and then again after I reached my goal weight. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I think I’m still floundering a bit. I put all this time and effort into these goals and when I finally achieved them, I didn’t know what to do with myself and I felt like I should shut down my blog, too, because what else is there to say?… My motivation is fleeting these days. It comes and goes, which is extremely frustrating because I had it in spades when I first started my blog. I’m certainly not giving up though, and of course, neither will you. Hang in there, Jon.

  24. Jon – You write a lot about running. Why is it that you run so much? Seems to be almost as much energy focused around it as the chocolate. What is it about the latter that keeps you interested? Do they satisfy in the same way?
    Wish I could give sage words of guidance, but that would just frame your life with someone elses. Actually, you already know what you want to do. True?

  25. Jon, The Novi Running Fit is putting on a Super Bowl 5K on Super Bowl Sunday, are ya goin??

  26. I think this speaks to many people Jon. Well said.

  27. When you want to draw inspiration from one of your running accomplishments, think of New Haven and smile. Detroit was just not scheduled for when you were ready. Move on.

  28. great, honest post, jon. i hope you find your focus soon. if you don’t maybe you should have mental lasiks. =)

  29. frolicking filly says

    well said, thats what this blogging is all about and you say it so well.
    Heather

  30. What pithy, on-target comment can I add to all of the above? Nothing, really, except to say: Thanks for putting this into words for me. I miss my marathon training like crazy, but I wasn’t crazy about running the marathon. I’m still mad about it. So I set a 10K as my next target (giving up run/walk) and I did that. Now I’m injured again. Blech. Plus it’s cold. I got nothin’ to add, except: I do think it’s the journey, not the destination. You gotta enjoy the journey. Having a destination helps.
    Does this make sense? Ah, you already said it all.
    You rock, jon.

  31. I completely loved this post and completely needed to read it today.

  32. buck up camper – today’s the solstice; days are getting longer again, sunshine and happiness is around the corner.

    My post for today, BTW, is going to be a word-for-word copy of yours, ‘cept changing “Detroit” to “New York”…

    Merry Christmas

  33. Great post, couldn’t have been said better :)

  34. I will send royalties when you send referral fees…

  35. I hear you man. When you live big and have big goals, you have to keep setting new ones for yourself. I’m very much like you. It might help to do what I do, just sit down and map out all of the important areas in your life and set goals for each and every one of them. Short-term, long-term, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are focusing on bettering yourself. Be well, and if you want, I’ve tagged you for a “list 5 random things about yourself”. Happy Holidays, man! Run on!

  36. hello? I am SO with you! Infact? I was totally there before you. :P Go eat some chocolate!

  37. I can’t quite relate to your lack of focus, although I can easily imagine what it is like. I responded on my website rather than leaving a long-winded comment.
    http://news.runtowin.com/2005/12/21/focus-goals-and-lack-thereof.html

  38. Oh yeah. I can relate to all of this. It’s definitely why I stopped doing my own running blog. Goal achieved, with many nagging injuries, a time I wasn’t happy with, etc. To do the marathon, I neglected my family a little bit and had to be quite obsessive for some time. I can’t sustain that kind of energy about the same thing for very long. I admire people who can. But maybe you just need to take a break and re-evaluate… from running, blogging, whatever. So you can make more chocolates, and blog about that! :)

  39. here here!