This past weekend, I competed in my third consecutive Last Man Standing Ultramarathon in Maine. I completed 8, 4.2-mile loops (which was well short of the external goal I set of 12 loops). I did some deep reflecting on my 10-hour car ride home…

Here are 8 Lessons Learned:

1. Long term progress rarely occurs in a straight line. There are highs & lows, peaks & valleys, and ups & downs. Missing the mark and falling short is part of the process… and part of life. I strive to learn valuable lessons from the wins and from the losses.

2. I give myself permission to feel disappointed for not reaching my external goal. Learning to internalize, manage, and process disappointment is a vital life skill. However, I don’t allow momentary disappointment to ruin the experience (for me or for others), erode my self-belief, or undermine my overall optimism & perspective.

3. I remind myself to focus on the fact I accomplished my intrinsic goals: I pushed myself (mentally, physically, and emotionally), I did the best I was capable of that day, and I enjoyed the experience!

4. I try to avoid using self-limiting language such as ‘only’ as it is disempowering (‘I ONLY did 8 loops’). Words like ‘only’ result from playing The Comparison Game (a game I try to abstain from).

5. I acknowledge that some days I simply don’t ’have it’ (for a variety of reasons). Some days I may only have 80% in the tank. Giving 100% of that 80% is what’s most important. Doing the best I can with what I have is what matters most.

6. I recognize that it’s not realistic for me to set a PR (Personal Record) every time out. While beating a personal best feels amazing, it’s not sustainable every single time. I can enjoy it when I do and learn from it when I don’t.

7. “A man never walks through the same river twice.” Why? The man and the river are different every time! And I am not the same man I was one year ago (when I completed 10, 4.2 mile loops).

8. Feeling dejected, and dare I say it, embarrassed for not performing as well as I would have liked reminds me that I still have some deep rooted insecurities to reconcile. The path to resolving these insecurities is learning to love myself unconditionally… and not allow how I feel about myself to hinge on my performance or achievement. I need to remember that ‘I am enough’ and ‘I am worthy’ regardless of external accomplishments.