Stop Agonizing Over What You Want

Ultrarunning mindset coach Susan Donnelly shares why it's worth investing in yourself instead of putting it off

In 1977, I was moving through middle school without much direction. None of the school clubs or teams interested me. I preferred to read, or run around the neighborhood with my friends.

Until someone told me about an upcoming tryout for the track team.

Ooh! I didn’t know a thing about tryouts or track but I wanted to be on a team that ran.

I can’t remember exactly how it transpired but I made the team and was soon running workouts around the black cinder track in white (quickly grey) Keds.

Track and being on a team was a completely new world. I had so much to learn and one of the first details I noticed was that most everyone else had shoes made for running. Made for running! I was embarrassed of my Keds…and intrigued.

I asked a couple of teammates about their shoes and where to find them. It turned out that running shoes were expected basics, not luxuries.

I was sure my parents wouldn’t see it that way. We didn’t have money for non-essentials like this. Mom made many of my clothes (which I love and still have), and we didn’t go out to dinner or splurge on things. 

To make it worse, these shoes benefitted no one in the family but me. What made me think I deserved money my family needed, for shoes I wanted but could live without? It was incredibly selfish.  

I put it off. I agonized over it.

I couldn’t ask it of them but something far deeper in me needed to run, and this moment felt like the choice between letting it pass by forever and going for it.

The tipping point came when I imagined my life if I didn’t ask - not running well, not enjoying it, then quitting or getting dropped from the team. Running would disappear from my life and the rest would just be existing.

I couldn’t breathe.

It would kill me to ask but I’d die if I didn’t.

I don’t remember asking but I must have gotten around to it because I got shoes. Much simpler than I imagined.

I felt hugely guilty about them for a while but not for long - they were freedom, and I was on my way.

So as painful as it was, asking for those shoes was a valuable early lesson in investing in myself. You can want something with all your heart but until you take action, it’s just wanting.

Any action you take to invest in yourself, especially in the face of overwhelming fear, says, “I and the gifts I have to give the world are worth it.”

So what about you?

Where do you need to invest in yourself?

Where have you been putting off investing time, money, or effort in something you want with all your heart but don’t think you deserve?

If it's an investment in yourself, do it.  Stop putting it off and agonizing over it. That gets you nowhere but miserable.

Take action.

You and the gifts you have to give the world are worth it. 

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