It’s not about the shoes

pencil drawing of a shoe

I did this drawing of my Dad’s shoe over 25 years ago. It was the first time I’d sat and really focused on a drawing from life, paying attention to every small detail. I still remember – still feel – the mindset it put me in. I’m so glad I still have it.

Last week I was determined to set a new personal best on parkrun. It had been a while since I got anywhere close, and it was frustrating me. Then I was awarded runner of the month, which meant a new pair of shoes, including gait analysis, and I was determined that this time I was going to do it. I gave myself two weeks, had a week off in between to volunteer instead of running (had two days off sick with a bad cold as well, unfortunately), trained during the weeks and then I went for it.

I discovered something important that day. It wasn’t about the shoes. It wasn’t about the running app. It wasn’t about the route. Sure all that helped – the app made me swear out loud when I heard how fast I’d hit the 2k marker, and I prefer that route, which is straight out and back and all flat apart from the last two hundred metres – but the importance of all those faded into insignificance beside the one thing that really did, ultimately, get me my personal best, beating my previous best by 28 seconds: it was my attitude.

I’d gone into that run after two weeks of thinking about it, planning it, wanting it, telling people I was going to do it, and all through the run when I felt my speed dropping I would give myself a good talking to. It paid off. It was a massive effort, and I’m not sure I’m ready to make that sort of all out effort every single run, but it was what I needed to get my time on that occasion.

It’s the same with writing. I used to look at those writing courses that promise that if you haven’t earned the costs of the fees back in writing payments by the end of it they’d refund your money, and I’d wonder what the catch was. When I tried it, I found out: if you managed to get to the end of the course and were still writing and submitting enthusiastically, then it was very unlikely that you’d fail to make any money from writing.

Well, I didn’t: I didn’t get very far through the course, as other events overtook me and I guess I just wasn’t that dedicated a writer. I tried again with a short OU course, and failed that too – although it was only a very short course, my father died partway through and I allowed that to derail me. Again, I guess I just wasn’t dedicated enough.

Now I’m getting to the point where I see others around me writing, and some even publishing, and I’m feeling envious. I could do that, I tell myself. And still I don’t. It’s not that I don’t have the equipment. It’s not that I don’t have the ideas. It’s not even completely because I don’t have the time. What I’m lacking is the right mindset.

One of these friends is now working to support people writing books. She’s offering to help people find their story. I’m not sure what people would learn from my life story – it starts off in a typical way, but the ending’s not finished yet, because I’m at the crisis point in it, the point where I finally overcome obstacles, figure out where I’m going and then manage to get there despite all setbacks.

If I’m going to write my story, first I really need to develop my ending. And for that I know that all I really need is to find the right mindset. If I want it enough, I’ll do it. If I think I want it enough I’ll try to do it, and at least find out whether I can get there or not.

Or I can just keep sitting talking about it, and end up in exactly the same place I am now, just older and still with nothing to show for it.

So. I’m coming up to a turning point. Instead of full time work, I’ll be self employed, deciding for myself how to divide my time. I’m declaring here and now that I’ll be using part of that time to research a history book on the inmates of the local workhouse. I’ll also be working on a fiction book, possibly related to it. I will get back to the regular writing that I promised a month ago to try and then abandoned for lack of time and motivation. I’m learning a lot about writing because it will soon be part of my working life, and I need to put that understanding to work.  I give myself a year. By the end of that time I’ll have something ready to publish.

I’m telling you all now and making this public as part of putting myself in the right mindset to go through with this. You are my witnesses. Because I need to believe myself that I can do it, and I need to be so sure that I convince myself and then others. I can’t achieve anything if I continue to allow myself to believe I can’t.

In the end, it’s not about anything other than having the right mindset to push through difficulties and reach your goal.



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  1. All the best! I can hear determination in your voice!

  2. Good luck honey! 🙂



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