It’s dark. And it’s cold. My mind logically presents compelling arguments as to why I should go back under the covers and get just a little more much-needed sleep.

But I made a promise to myself. And fitting this promise into my schedule requires me to start my day much earlier than my body and mind both feel I should.

It’s just before 5:00 AM. I’m standing in my driveway with a halogen lamp wrapped around my head, wearing a reflective vest and holding my iPhone.

Time to run.

I will win no awards with my running, either for speed, endurance, or technique. But that’s not why I do it. In addition to the health benefits, accomplishing a goal before the morning shower creates a positive momentum which often lasts throughout the day.

There is a psychological component to running. Certainly, the knees and the hips will have their say, too. But mindset plays a vital role in everything we do.

I will often have many in-run conversations with myself. Especially when I’m in the middle of climbing a hill or looking ahead and seeing how far it is I still need to go. That’s when the mind speaks up, trying to plant some seeds of doubt and fear, hoping to convince me it’s best if I stop, turn around, and walk myself safely back home.

But it is different when I’m running in the dark.

In the dark I can only see what is right in front of me, the 12 feet illuminated by that light strapped to my forehead. My ever-protective mind doesn’t have a view of the long road out in front of me, so it doesn’t have the opportunity to overwhelm me with how far it is I still need to go. It can’t take me to the place of doubt and fear because I have no visual evidence such a place actually exists.

Running in the dark reminds me to only focus on what’s right in front of me, to be fully present and tending only to this step and the next one and not to focus on how many more miles I still need to run.

Focusing on what’s in front of you also works wonders in everyday life as well.

Sometimes we find ourselves standing at the base of some emotional mountain and we become overwhelmed by the enormity of what is in front of us. And at times the totality of the mountain can stop us in our tracks. No reason to go on. The mountain, we tell ourselves, is too great, and our well-intentioned mind attempts to protect us with it’s “rational” negativity.

But mountains can be summited and challenges can be overcome when we focus not the enormity of such obstacles but instead on what is immediately in front of us, on the next few steps. Take the first few steps. And then a few more. And then a few more, and at some point when you look back and see how far you’ve come you’ll be empowered to keep moving forward, gaining momentum as you make your way towards getting to where you want to go.

A few steps at a time.

What mountains are standing in front of you today, leaving you in a state of emotional paralysis? What great challenge has you overwhelmed as you wonder how you’ll ever rise above it?

Life’s challenges are best overtaken one step at a time.

Just like running in the dark.

It’s a great day to be you!

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