This weekend I was reading my favorite magazine: Running Times, and the cover story features a masters marathoner named Sheri Piers.  She is 41 years old, and last April was the top American at the Boston Marathon coming in 10th overall, finishing in 2:41:55 in 80 degree heat.  She is a major stud.

As I read it, I felt inspired, proud of what a woman our age can do, and a wee bit jealous.  Maybe that is one of my dreams!  Now that is hard to admit, because I am basically a beginning runner and have only run a marathon distance one time.  And that time was 5:40 and some seconds!  So who am I kidding?  But I think our dreams are those things that we are almost embarrassed to admit to others.  They sound so far fetched.   Isn’t that the definition of dreams?  I had to admit to myself that her accomplishments with running are something I DO dream about.  One of my dreams.  I actually have quite a few.  In fact, I am gonna go out on a limb and list them as they stand at the moment:

l.  To be an elite marathon runner.  Maybe even triathlon athlete.  Maybe even Iron Man Triathlon athlete!

2.  To write a “best-seller” about something (haven’t got the something yet)

3.  To be a Dr. of Chinese Medicine.  Trained in acupuncture and herbal remedies, as well as,  how to grow them myself.

Now, I am imagining you holding your sides, you are laughing so hard right now.  That is ok.  Life is looooong.   You gotta dream in order to do.  And the way I see it, I am just getting started.  😉

My challenge is this:  How do I get there?

I began to wonder, “How do these women do it?”  “How do they accomplish so much with the same amount of hours in a day that I am given?”   Not just Sheri Piers, but other women in my life as well.  The rock stars (not literally) that are always getting amazing things done in the world.   I always feel tired when I am talking to them about what they accomplish in a day.

How do they do it?  I obviously don’t have the answer to that, but I have a hypothesis:  WILLPOWER

I don’t think they have more hours in a day.  I actually don’t even think they have that much more willpower than me.  I think they have figured out how to harness and direct their willpower MUCH better than me.

The book, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self -Control Works, Why It Matters and What Can You Do To Get More of It” by Kelly McGonigal talks about this very thing.  Yes, you can increase your willpower by simple day to day practice in self discipline.  But too much discipline is counter productive and there is a ceiling at some point.

So maybe it is a matter of looking at WHERE you spend your willpower.  I know for a fact, that these women are not spending precious willpower on laundry, cleaning toilets, grocery shopping, fixing the leaky sink, and over functioning for their kids.  Maybe some of them are not even spending enough willpower on their kids and marriages.  Like I said, there are only 24 hours in a day no matter who you are.

I, on the other hand, am spending quite a bit of precious willpower on that kind of stuff.  Because of the previous post about too many sick kids, I splurged and had someone clean my house this weekend from top to bottom.  I can’t do that regularly right now, but WOW! I was amazed at the amount of willpower it freed up for me.  Enough to get my exercise going again, go skating with my kids, and even think up this post.

So is there any wiggle room?  I mean we have to eat, the toilets have to get cleaned, the bills have to be paid.   I am not willing to let my kids and marriage go to hell in a hand basket.   But…

I began to think about that over functioning for the kids part.  I absolutely recognize my need to be needed.  My kids have cooperated and sacrificed their ability to do for themselves, just so I would feel important and central in their lives.  But… now that is starting to keep me from doing some of the really cool stuff I want to do!  And frankly, I am just getting tired of over functioning for them.

So I am starting with a simple goal:

Set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. (I already get up at 5 a.m. to coddle and over function for my kids) five out of seven days.  Get up and LEAVE the house to go exercise/train and shower.  Let Richard over function a little bit and take over the morning routine.  My guess is, he will suck at over functioning for our kids and they will become much more independent, self-sufficient creatures.  (although maybe not so happy about it to begin with)

And I will add to and free up some willpower that was being horribly misused.  Who knows what is possible!  Stay tuned…