Two weeks ago at Big Sur I ran a 3:35 marathon, a PR This was a far cry from the 3:55 PW (Personal Worst) in Newport last fall.

Why such a difference? Planning.

Are you saving up for your next vacation? Do you know you need to save $100 a week to go on that vacation next January? Do you budget your money to cut out $100 a week in expenses or just hope that $100 magically appears in your savings account at the end of every week?

Someone once told me there’s no blueprint for life. I believe this is 100% true. What I also believe is that there is a blue print for various tasks in life. Want to retire at 58? Cut out ABC and do XYZ and you can retire at 58. Want to read a 200 page book a week? Cut out tv for 30 minutes-1 hour a day (reading speed dependent) and read instead.

Success without planning is an uphill battle. It’s obvious and we all know it, yet how many of us meticulously plan?

Here was my plan for Newport: Review the elevation map at 8 hours before the marathon and during the race run even splits.

What happened? The final 20 miles were a miserable 3 hours. I did not to pass ANYONE on the final 13.1 miles and must have been passed by 752 people. Demoralizing.

After that personal failure I knew I needed to change something. So what did I do? I called my buddy who was a Collegiate All-American in the 1500M and current college cross country coach.

He put together an 18 week training schedule for me to follow and left me with this:

“If you follow this program, you’ll run 3:35.”

If you’re in college and your professor says, “Here’s the answers to tomorrow’s test,” do you only look at 10 of the 20 answers? She’s literally telling you all of the answers, the same way my buddy was saying ‘If you do this, you will run 3:35.’

As humans too many of us want to do things on our own. Either we’re too proud to ask for help or think we know more than someone who has a demonstrated track record of success or even worse we’re scared of what our friends, family, or (insert social group here) think of our latest undertaking.

So we do it on our own, fail, and then come up with some lame excuse as to why it didn’t work out for us.  We’ll try one more time. We’ll do pretty much the same thing as we did last time, fail again, tell ourselves we’re not cut out for real estate investing, the rodeo, professional yodeling or any other venture we undertake and then go back to living our mediocre lives.

People become great and achieve their goals because they bust their asses, make sacrifices, and ask for help. I’m trying to recall any time in my life that I did these three things and didn’t achieve success or achieved greatness without doing these 3 things and I can’t come up with one.

Busting your ass, making sacrifices, and asking for help all point to one thing for me…someone who wants to be great.

Why did I run 3:55 in Newport? I half-assed the training program and I knew it! I didn’t want it bad enough. Why did I run 3:35 at Big Sur? Simple. My 2014-self wanted it more than my 2013-self.

I am beginning to apply this to other facets of life. It is necessary to feel greatness throughout life if you want to be successful and lead a happy existence.

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