Reaching Your Goals is Like Running a Marathon
by Dom Fumalaro

Empowerment means “to have power.” Once you are empowered, you no longer need to get approval, permission or acknowledgement from others. You must empower yourself first before you can empower others.

Imagine for a moment that you're a recreational runner. You love it for the exercise. It's Friday afternoon, and you're driving home from work. You flip on your car radio and hear the end of an announcement for a running race in the next town on the next morning. Sounds great. You feel lucky that you turned on the radio just in time to hear the end of the ad. Actually, all you know from what you heard on the radio is that the race starts tomorrow morning at 7:30 at the entrance to the town's public park.

So on Saturday morning, you put on your running gear and drive to the next town, arriving five minutes before the start of the race. You park your car, lace up your running shoes, and jog to the starting line, where hundreds of other runners have gathered.

Perfect timing, you think. Just as you jog up to the edge of the pack, the starting gun goes off and you begin running with the others. And you feel great because you’re bounding with energy; you keep steadily passing other runners until suddenly, you realize that you’re in the lead pack of runners. Just the sensation of being in the front of such a big group of runners makes your adrenaline soar, and you begin running even faster. After two miles, you find yourself breaking away from the lead pack of runners.

Oh, what a thrill! You've run so many 5-kilometer races before, but never have you led the pack, never did you come this close to actually winning it. Your eyes search for the finish line, and that piece of tape that will be stretched across the road for you at the end of the 3.1 mile (five kilometer) race. But as you get closer to the three-mile marker, and look beyond it, you don't see any tape, or any crowd of people, or a "Finish" banner hung across the road.

You just see more open road, and then the question you have on your lips is suddenly answered by a race volunteer who hands you a cup of water at the three-mile mark and says to you, "Looking good! Twenty-three to go!" And then it hits you. Twenty-three miles to go. This isn't a 5-kilometer race! It's a marathon! The only reason why you're running faster than everybody is because when the starting gun went off they all knew they had to pace themselves for 26.2 miles.

Now, you regret not tuning into that radio commercial from the very beginning of it. You think about just stopping, but feel too embarrassed to give up running in a race you are leading. So you keep going, but at a slower pace.By mile 4, the lead pack of runners has passed you. By mile 5, you realize that your racing shoes are the wrong shoes to wear for a marathon. Your shins are starting to hurt. By mile 8, you realize that you're getting abdominal cramps because you didn't properly hydrate yourself the night before, something you surely would have done for a marathon.

By mile 11, you're walking. In another mile, you're sitting on the side of the road, drinking a bottle of water with your shoes off and asking a race volunteer if there's any way you can get a ride back to your car.You vow to yourself that this will never happen again. Next time you race, you're going to make sure you know more about the race than you knew about this one. What's true for running is also true for chasing our dreams. Before we get started, we need to have an idea where our journey will end. The more you prepare for your journey and know about it before you start, the better chance you'll have of succeeding.

Know before you go. It's a philosophy that works not only in marathon running, but in many aspects of life. So whatever our dream is, getting to the vision is much more likely if we understand as much about the process as possible before we begin and then make sure that everything we do is something that moves us closer to that goal.

If we don't know before we go, it's easier to get discouraged on the path, and maybe even lose our way. Getting disoriented and marooned in the middle of a dream is no fun at all. Our vision must have clarity to it. It can't be a fuzzy mirage in the distance. It must be well defined and real.The clarity of it will help you to head in that direction.Write out your vision on paper. Spell out clearly what it is you see, and project how you intend to get there. Now that you know before you go, you're well on your way to self-empowerment. Enjoy the journey!

Dom Famularo is author of "The Cycle of Self Empowerment" (WizDom Enterprises; 2000; $22.95). Dom is an accomplished drummer and internationally recognized youth speaker. For more info on his book and Cycle seminars, please visit: www.DomFamularo.com, call 631-732-2250 or email ForCSE1@aol.com.