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By Anne Simpkinson

Pushing Yourself to Succeed

I have been thinking lately how I have lost discipline. Last year, I pledged to get to a healthy weight and ended up losing 45 pounds in 11+ months.

But this year, although I have talked about goals—mainly a financial diet—I haven’t really applied myself with single-minded focus. Nor have I begun to walk early in the morning or after work, and my willpower around food is slipping.

Today I read Therese Borchard’s blog about pushing oneself physically. She writes about the boost in self-esteem that she felt by accomplishing something she never thought she could, from running in pacing runs with an older gent who happened to be a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines to making it to the 18-mile marker of a marathon and later finishing events that may not have been 26.2 miles but were strenuous workouts nonetheless.

After I read the blog, a colleague came into my office and told me about a charity ride she recently participated in, cycling 40 miles or more for leukemia. She came away from that experience having met some wonderful people and, because she wasn’t sure she could do it, feeling exhilarated.

Physical exertion naturally gets the adrenaline pumping, but a similar high can come from pride of accomplishment, achieving any goal you set for yourself.

In the June issue of Success magazine, Steve Martin, a Renaissance man if there ever was one—he’s done stand-up comedy; has a world-class art collection; has starred in movies; has written best-selling fiction; and now enjoys banjo-pickin’—shares that what drives him is the pleasure of succeeding.

“I like to succeed. And when I say ‘succeed,’ I don’t mean succeeding in a big way. I enjoy succeeding in a very small way. Whether it’s one joke or one song.”

I think the idea of pushing oneself may have fallen out of cultural favor. But here are three people who attest to the rewards that come from stretching and challenging yourself—physically, creatively, in every way.

Anne Simpkinson is the online managing editor of guideposts.org. She co-authored Soul Work: A Field Guide for Spiritual Seekers and has edited two anthologies entitled Sacred Stories: A Celebration of the Power of Stories to Transform and Heal and Nourishing the Soul: Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life. A spiritual practice, good friends, lakeside cottage and two lovely feline companions continue to transform and enrich her life.