At the beginning of 2013, I painted a giant blackboard on the wall in my hallway. Prior to painting it, I’d carefully marked out a large square shape with masking tape, and planned to paint within the taped lines so that it was nice and neat.
Turns out I’m not one for painting within the lines (story of my life), and so my giant blackboard was less of a perfect square masterpiece, and more a sort of-square with very messy edges. I really liked it.
People always comment on the giant blackboard when they come round to my house. They’re often surprised to see the larger than life week-to-week running plan, or an out-dated shopping list in huge letters, or sometimes a note from my niece – she likes to write me things like, “You smell of poo”. Other times, they’re surprised to see that there’s more serious stuff on it. Vulnerable stuff. Words and phrases that are important to me and keep me grounded in everything I do, and they often ask me what it’s all about.
Here’s what it’s all about: On the top left corner of the giant blackboard is the following sentence: “My word for 2013 is SUCCESS”.
When I wrote it, in the early stages of the year, I didn’t quite know what I meant by success. I just knew that I wanted to feel successful. I was getting tired of having lots of ideas and things I’d like to do pinging around in my head, only to dismiss them because I felt I wasn’t good enough. I was getting tired of comparing myself to others, always feeling like I was trailing along on the back foot – watching people around me shine – as I clapped them along in the shadows of the side stage curtain. I was getting tired of hearing myself constantly coming up with excuses, for reasons why I couldn’t do things. And so, with chalk in hand, I took to the giant blackboard with fierce determination and wrote down, in one word, what I wanted for the year ahead: And that word was success.
Looking back, writing on the giant blackboard was a bit of a re-boot for my brain. I had written down and shared, quite openly to anyone who should read it, how I wanted to feel . I’d also decided to show myself some fucking integrity for once, and it was there for everyone to see.
Each time I made my morning coffee, I saw the word success written on the wall. Bam. When I returned home each evening and turned the hallway light on. Bam. There it was again.
The word success became something that I carried with me, an emotional benchmark – a strong feeling in my belly that guided me to and through situations that I had spent so much time shying away from because I was always so downright scared shitless. It was like hearing a big, booming voice each time I started backing away from something – through fear, or not feeling good enough – that reminded me of what was written on the top left corner of the giant blackboard at home, that said: “REMEMBER, SUCCESS”.
“Remember, success” is what kept me going when Laura and I were in the early stages of Write This Run. When our idea was little more than hushed excitement and a beermat full of scribbles.
“Remember, success” is what gave me the balls to take a chance and write to a company, letting them know that I really wanted to work for them, and in turn, them taking a chance on me and offering me a role in which I combine my passion for goal-setting, community-building and running.
“Remember, success” is what pushed me over the finish line of the Frankfurt Marathon, (as well as some serious words at kilometre 40 from Laura and Jen).
“Remember, success” is what motivated me to take a u-turn in the eleventh hour of starting my counselling degree, and saw me train to be a coach instead.
“Remember, success” is just a word.
And yet it became the backbone of my entire year.
I’m still thinking about my word for 2014.