It's not a sprint, it's a marathon! (Part 2)
Updated: Feb 27
Translating the race to reality.
In part one, I gave my explanations as to why I think there’s much more to a marathon than the distance. Most people can sprint, even if it isn’t going to win someone a medal. If you forced most people (notice I didn’t use “asked”) they probably wouldn’t be able to finish their first marathon without any notice. I listed many of the reasons in part one.
When people say “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon”, most people just refer to something other than running. It could be describing a marriage or a new job. In my case, this refers to running my own business as a voice actor. Using that metaphor, there’s so much more to it than just length of time.
Here’s what I learned about that difference and how it applies to being successful in things that may not be related to running. I will be referencing my voiceover business but I believe many of the things I have learned apply to other interests as well.
I won’t force you to read on, but I will kindly ask you to keep reading. Just know that if you don’t I will be very sad and you will make my 7 year old son sad. And you don’t want to make my son sad, right????
Guilt trip is now over.
But please keep reading….
Preparation: If you want to succeed at something, there has to be a level of preparation. While some people have had luck in just “winging it”, the odds are not in their favor. When the decision is made, you need to come up with a plan. What do you need? How will you get it? Usually some research needs to be done. I would strongly recommend against asking a random person on social media for the answer to all of your questions. Ted, the dude with an egg for a profile picture, might tell you he knows everything because he read it on a MySpace page once and that you have no chance because he knew someone with your name who was no good so you have to be terrible via association. Please don’t listen to Ted (no offense Ted’s of the world). Instead, it’s probably a better idea to check multiple places that are knowledgeable about the area in question. I specifically used the word “multiple” as you should never take just one place you find information as your only source. Perhaps they do not have all the answers or the correct ones. You will generally notice a trend if you look in enough places. I would also recommend taking time to speak with people that have knowledge of what you are trying to prepare for. Sometimes it may cost money, but you may get answers that you would not get anywhere else. Just make sure the people you are reaching out to are also reputable in their industry.
Goals: I used to groan every time I heard the word, but the importance of having goals is HUGE. Without goals, you are just pushing forward without a compass. You could still reach your destination without goals, but would be much tougher and take a lot more time. When you have something you are aiming for, the chances of hitting the target are much higher than being blindfolded and trying to hit the same target.
You need goals! Not just long term goals of what you ultimately want. Breaking the major goal down into smaller bite sized pieces that are much easier to swallow. Okay, enough with the metaphors.
There are so many books and articles out there that cover goals far more than this quick blurb about their importance. However, make sure your goals are SMART goals:
Training: Success needs training. Make sure this time is not rushed. The more time you take to train and train the right way will pay off in the long run (pun slightly intended). Training does not just apply to the skill itself, but all of the other things relevant to it. In voice over, you obviously want to be better at becoming a better voice actor. There are a lot of other things to know about as well, such as sound editing, computer skills, knowledge of the equipment, marketing, social media, business skills, and on and on…
Taking the time to learn as much as possible will help with success.
Trust in yourself: I know from personal experience that this is a tough one. If we don’t personally believe in ourselves, how can we expect others to as well? Instead of being our strongest critic, we should be our own cheerleader.
How do we do that? It certainly won’t happen by flipping a switch. For me, it was a process. I shut out the negative thoughts at first and instead focused on the things I could control. I trained, got coaching and took as many classes as I possibly could (and still do to this day). I knew that I had to believe in myself and my abilities. As long as I was constantly improving, I would be doing everything I could. I won’t lie and say the negative voice is completely quiet, but it rarely gets listened to like it once did.
Pacing (run your own race): There is no doubt that people can succeed, but the amount of time it can take someone to achieve a goal is practically impossible to replicate. There are so many factors to account for: time, money, previous experiences, mental state, etc. There are many others but one more I don’t want to leave out: luck. Sometimes all it takes is speaking to the right person on the right day to help someone move forward. Perhaps a single opportunity could snowball into multiple other opportunities.
Keeping all of these factors in mind, it’s hard to follow an exact blueprint to succeed. That is why you cannot judge your personal success on someone else’s. It does not matter how much better or worse you think someone may be. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is what you are doing for yourself to get to where you want to be.
Celebrate other people’s accomplishments.
Mental games: Many of this has been covered in the ones above, but there are some challenges that we create on our own. Lack of confidence, having a bad day or reading a negative comment can derail progress and reaching the success we want. Mental health is incredibly important. Take the time to take care of yourself. Personally, I took many steps to do this. While it will always be a work in progress, I found many different ways to stay healthy mentally. Talking to professionals and getting help was a big step. I cannot stress how important that is. If you need help, please get in touch with people that can help.
For me, the more I did, the better I felt. Staying active helped a lot. Sometimes it involved running. Other times I was working on something ranging from building my business to working on a home project.
Another thing that has helped me greatly is hypnosis. It’s a fantastic way to change your subconscious. However, it only works if you are accepting of the change. What hypnosis really does is put you in a very relaxed state where your subconscious mind is accepting of the suggestions of change. It has definitely helped me and could possibly be helpful to someone reading this.
Unpredictability: Earlier in this article I talked about training. That being said, we can only prepare ourselves so much. Things are going to happen along the journey that were not considered before. If you were around in a year called 2020, there isn’t much I need to say about being prepared for the unpredictable.
Adversity: While this can fall into the “unpredictability” category, this is more about things that create a challenge.. Perhaps the success you thought you could have is not happening. We all had to deal with the adversity of 2020.
The unknown is inevitable to happen. While we can’t control these things, we can control how we deal with them. If we deal with them the best way we can, that’s the most we can do.
Reassessment: I feel like it’s very important to take time to reassess where you are in the pursuit of success. Reassessing things can be extremely beneficial. It can result in a new approach to doing things. It could also verify that you are doing something right and perhaps best to stay the course.
Finishing strong: This step really applies when your success is on the horizon as you approach the proverbial finish line. When success is in sight, don’t just coast to the finish. Keep pushing forward even harder! After all, when you reach the success you are after, you don’t want it to be over, right? You want to keep being successful. If you act like you are done, you will be done. Never be complacent even when you reach the finish. You worked so hard to get to the point of success. Why would you want to stop there? Set a new level for yourself to reach and keep going!