When I started freelancing, I took off too fast. I left the boring training track of my marketing job behind and got excited about running free. Finally, I had no headwind that would stop my progress.
I didn’t realize that running your own business is like an endless race. The finish line keeps moving. As soon as you get close, another one appears on the horizon.
So even though I was in tip-top shape, I soon got out of breath. I was stuck in the loop of setting unrealistic goals and burning out while trying to reach them.
But then I shifted my focus.
I started selecting projects with a meaningful impact I was passionate about. I ran for the love of running, for the thrill of the wind in my hair, and for the joy of moving forward.
And suddenly, I felt like I could run forever.
Talking of starting lines, I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow. Not a metaphorical one. A real half-marathon race.
I know what you’re saying to yourself right now—I’m not a runner. I don’t get it.
And here’s the thing. I never used to be a runner either. But similar to freelancing, I realized that I was doing it all wrong.
I was focusing on the numbers on my watch too much. I was worrying about people passing me. I was second-guessing whether I looked like a runner. Whether I was allowed to call myself one.
When I gave myself permission to let go of the pressure to perform a certain way I unlocked the most progress.
I’m talking about running and I’m not talking about running.
You can chase external goals that others consider important. But that’s not what’s going to get you excited to wake up every day for the next 20—or however many—years.
So think about that the next time you’re lacing up to tackle spreadsheets.
Your passion ≠ side hustle
Something that I’ve alluded to in my last takeover is doing things for the sole reason that they bring you joy.
It’s because I think we’ve become too productive. We put ourselves under pressure to monetize, get benefits, or external validation from all our efforts.
Love running? You should race. Writing fiction? You should publish a book. Passionate about mindset? Start coaching other people.
While optimizing our calendars to the last minute, we’ve forgotten to do things that make us happy. Not because there is an ambitious goal attached to them.
It’s making us all feel like we’re running a 100-mile ultra. And we think that stopping at the water station would be a sign of weakness.
We’re watching our blisters bleed and showing them off to the world as a badge of honor.
But let me tell you, that’s not what the real runners care about.
They’ll put their gear on every day but sometimes it’s to go and watch the sunrise. Or to run to a local bakery.
While the whole world heads in one direction, don’t be afraid to divert from the route sometimes.
When you do, make sure you stop to smell the roses, forget your phone, and come back with stories.
Endorphins for the soul
When I'm faced with the most challenging miles, I draw energy from my secret stash of running fuel. Here’s what helps me maintain the right pace:
- Happy place: This is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to.
- Calendar colors: My life in a nutshell.
- Getting into flow: Must read or listen.
- Concentration: My boyfriend says that when I tune in to this, I’m focusing so hard he’s scared to talk to me.
- Creative emails: I love words by Ash Ambirge and Laura Belgray.
- Go-to podcasts: Adrianne Herbert, David Neagle, and Steven Bartlett.
- Deep work: You’ll be better off if you quit social media.
- My vibe: is this playlist.
- Strong stomachs only: I like to read weird books that make you think—and sometimes—question your life. This is my recent favorite.
- You hate running: If it wasn’t for the guided runs by Chris Bennett, I would probably still hate running too.
- Fiction writing goals: When I grow up I want to write fiction like Chuck Palahniuk.
About Susan Rov
Susan traded cocktails and lattes for words that move. As a copywriter on a mission to end boring, she brightens brands and makes an impact. Number 463 on the list of fiction readers left standing, you'll find Susan at sunrise—running, writing, and wondering how to change the world next. That drive led her to become a founding team member of BRIL.LA.