Updated: March 16, 2020
My current personal best for a 3-kilometer run is around 30 minutes. I believe that’s below average as most friends do the same distance for less than 20 minutes.
I know I can improve my time, but I guess the motivation isn’t really there.
Because when I run on the treadmill, at that pace which I’m accustomed to, I am relaxed and can allow my mind to wander and wonder.
I was at the gym a few days back, and decided that I’d run for an hour.
I went to the treadmill and slowly built my momentum until I reached that comfortable speed that I liked.
I’m telling you this because at that time, I realized that for most people, which includes myself – life can feel like you’re running on a treadmill.
I’m not talking about the proverbial financial rat race here, it’s a little bit different from that. What I’m referring to is that struggle we all have in keeping up with the pace of modern life.
Our days are often spent accomplishing things that need to get done. We establish routines and make to-do lists to ensure that we will make the most out of our day.
But slowly and without notice, the tasks that need to get done lose their purpose; our routines become boring; and our to-do list starts to feel burdensome.
This is when life becomes like being on a treadmill – where we run just to stay in place and avoid falling off the back end.
Early in February, I looked at my calendar and saw that most of the things on it are commitments and tasks that left me disenchanted.
I had a lot of must-go-to’s and have-to-do’s that all seem pointless and out of place.
It’s a bit scary actually – especially if I tell you that some of the items there included writing chapters for my next book, preparing for a financial seminar that I will conduct, and planning the content for this blog.
In short, imagine me losing my enthusiasm and passion for financial education and feeling the want to do something else.
At that point, I could say that I felt like I was just running on a treadmill.
I’ve experienced this state before and I knew it’s a dangerous place to be in. When left unchecked and unexamined, it can lead to unreasonable decisions and regrettable mistakes.
The last time this happened to me, I almost packed everything to move and live somewhere in Mindanao, hoping to start my life anew.
And while there’s nothing wrong in doing that, the circumstances and the reasons behind the plan were wrong, I realized.
So… out of my usual mind and feeling lost, I knew I needed a change of pace and scenery, a break from my routine to allow myself to introspect.
And as destiny would have it, I learned that a couple of friends were planning to go to Thailand. It didn’t take long to convince me to join them.
I’m not much of a believer in destiny, or that thing called tadhana – what I do believe in is that when you decide on specific goals, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
I am for self-determination. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best and I quote: “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
And as I did many times before, whenever I felt like I’m just running on a treadmill, I would revisit my life goals and assess if my current path is still aligned with it.
I know that it is only through this exercise can I truly bring back the vitality of my daily routine.
The process itself is actually simple, but it requires a few hours of solitude and complete honesty.
When you’re asking yourself what do you really want to achieve in life, it’s easy to lose yourself in the expectations of others – and doing that won’t help you in the end.
One time, I asked a friend, “What is your ultimate goal for your career?”
He replied, “To be promoted as Vice President of the company.”
This was a goal he held in high esteem because it’s what others expects of him.
But when I asked, “If you will be successful in any career, what profession would you choose?”
He answered without hesitation, “I’d like to be a world-famous chef!”
When defining your ultimate goals, there is a need to be selfish – to be completely honest on what will give you pride and make you feel complete, regardless of what your family and friends expects from you.
This is the first step towards getting off the treadmill.
Once properly defined, it will now be easier to reverse your timeline and set medium and short-term goals for yourself, to reassess your current actions and calibrate your mindset towards achieving those ultimate goals.
Armed with a better perspective, my friend for example, can now motivate himself to work hard at his current job, because it allows him to earn and save good money that he can use to enroll in a culinary school someday.
His ultimate career goal is no longer to become VP, but to become a chef. And between doing overtime work to impress his boss, and going to an event to network with restaurateurs – he’ll know which one to prioritize in his calendar.
This is what I love about this process, and the reason why it always works for me.
By honestly deciding on my ultimate personal, spiritual, social, professional, mental and even emotional goals – I can come back to my day-to-day life with more meaning and purpose because the vision and path is clearer.
It allows me to eliminate the things that doesn’t help me forward, and each spare time I gain can now be used towards moving closer to any of my ultimate goals.
This was exactly what I did, and with renewed passion, I now understand (again) why I do what I do. So, no… I won’t be packing my bags anytime soon.
My second book will be out before the end of the year, I’ll be conducting more seminars and workshops in the weeks ahead, and I will continue to write about my life and the lessons I’ve learned in this blog.
Because after basking in the sun at the beaches of Phuket and drowning in metaphors of life and existentialism, I’ve been able to get off the treadmill.
Time: 1 hour. Distance: 6.20 kilometers. Calories burned: 562.