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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Crumb

Effort v. Achievement

This week at the ungodly hour I get up and go to yoga, my favorite teacher asked us at the beginning to consider effort vs. achievement and keep that in mind all practice. It immediately reminded me of what has become one of my go-to phrases: Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. I don't actually like this phrase; it inherently annoys me because it feels like one that's become as ubiquitous as "live laugh love" and I'm bound to see it on a wallhanging in some Airbnb someday soon. That said, I can't argue with the logic of the sentence and the impact it has on me.

I've already discussed in this blog my lifelong tendency towards perfectionism. I had a fixed mindset for a long time - thinking that the genetic lottery I won was it for me. The things I was talented at were what I was meant to do, and that's what I had to capitalize on to get where I wanted to go. And, lucky for me, there are quite a few things I am naturally good at and they took me far.

Don't get me wrong - I've always been extremely diligent. I'm the daughter of a dairy farmer; you don't go through that childhood without a deep appreciation of hard work. My first paying job I ever had was unloading hay on our farm (at 12 my dad told me I was probably not "strong enough" to do it, which of course meant I obviously had to prove him wrong. In retrospect, I suspect he knew that was going to be my exact response and it launched me into a years-long unspoken contract of unloading hay bales). But I never really paired diligence with talent. I figured if you were good at something, you were just good at it. Practice is necessary, but not going to change the outcome.

That's what I had always thought about running. I'm good enough - as in, I can complete the things I want to do, but I'll never be fast and I can't really improve that much. So I focused on achievements - how many races I've run, not how well I ran those races. And let me tell you, I've run some TERRIBLE races. But who cares, right? There's a picture of me smiling at the end, despite the food poisoning I suffered while running it (true story - looking at you, Nashville), or the pent up sorrow and deep, deep aloneness I felt when I ran Chicago in 2017. ACHIEVEMENTS, boom!

I'm trying hard to make sure that this time around I'm not letting perfect be the enemy of good. A growth mindset - one that says all those challenges I've faced are just learning experiences to make me more resilient - is my best friend. I've had a super hard couple of weeks at work, which means my runs have been squished in to whatever time I have left. And I'm starting with so little in the tank, I keep thinking I should just skip it, wait until I feel "strong" and "ready." But the reality is that's probably never - I have a high stress job and a busy life. If I wait until conditions are perfect, I'll never get out there.

Today I had to do a track workout. I've been pushing it off all week - I was too tired Tuesday; it was too cold on Wednesday; shit went sideways at work on Thursday. I was exhausted today and worried that I'd be "slow." But then I thought about effort vs. achievement and I did it anyway, giving it my best shot with the body I showed up with today.

And you know what? It turned out to be one of my best runs I've had to date. I guess, much like another saying you're likely to find in a beachside Airbnb, it is about the journey, not the destination.

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