In 2014, with encouragement, I committed to running the Chicago Marathon. Prior to this spontaneous decision, I had never run more than 6 miles in my life. I found a 4 month plan online that outlined the runs I needed to complete in order to meet my goal. At first, follow through was spotty. I missed runs, changed plans last minute, or reduced the mileage because I thought I was doing fine. I soon realized, when I had to complete a 15 mile training run, I was nowhere near where I needed to be. I was in crisis, the marathon was soon, and I was nowhere where I needed to be. I cursed this running schedule from the internet and blamed my body as “just not being a runner”. After talking with some trusted friends, I realized the 15 mile fail was not anyone else’s fault but my own. I did not consistently stick with the running plan but rather chose to run when I wanted, often choosing other activities before running. I soon changed my mindset, dedicated myself to completing the scheduled runs as prescribed and I finished the Chicago Marathon in 5 hours (that was a long time to run for!).
This story has been on my mind lately as I have been thinking about progress in therapy towards goals and the connection with consistency. Therapy works, it truly does, but it needs time, practice, and investment. When finding a therapist and working on goals, you have to make the intentional dedication to the time and work. Therapy process will take a longer time and not be as successful if there is not consistency with appointments and work outside of therapy. This can be hard with the naturally busy ways our lives are, so it is important to think about your priorities and goals. Sometimes taking the time to focus on your therapy goals can mean that life will run smoother after you have worked on yourself.
Maybe it means looking at therapy like running a marathon (or lets be a real a 5k). You cannot run a marathon the day you decide to start. You have to chip away at it. You have to run when you do not want to. You have to run when it hurts, when it’s boring, and even when it feels amazing. You have to run when you do not have time or at hours you do not want. You have to keep working at it because after spending all of those hours, you reach your goal. It truly is amazing to finish and say, I made it.
Written by Elizabeth Hamburger, MS, LMFT
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