I’ve been thinking lately about change, and whether we always notice changes within ourselves. Like a lot of runners, I have a number of favourite runs that I like to do. While I’m running, I sometimes wonder why I don’t take the opportunity to explore more areas and to keep finding new, different runs.
I used to excuse this in terms of training. It is, after all, much easier to draw direct comparisons between different runs if I follow the same route. Now that I’m trying to concentrate more on the experience of running, that argument is less compelling. I found that I would regularly promise myself that I’d find a new route for next week.
This week, while I was running, I thought about why I never actually do find those new routes. As I slogged through the mud and the rain, I realised that I actually value going over the same ground again and again. When I’m running, I get to really experience the different seasons. I get to see and feel the changes in the weather. Much as I might prefer running in something other than pouring rain with wet leaves underfoot, I realised that I need that experience to really value the crisp autumn days or the first warm mornings of spring.
One of the things I value so much about running is being able to observe change. Doing the same routes over and over allows me to recognise small changes in the world around me, as well as the bigger changes, such as the sky opening and me getting very wet (can you tell I had a slightly damp run this morning?).
As I thought about it, I realised that running is one of the few times in my life where I dedicate the time to retracing my footsteps. Usually, we are so focused on learning and growing and developing that we don’t take the time to go back and really consider where we started. We’re so focused on moving forward that it’s hard to take the time to look back and think about where we started and the path we’ve taken.
In coaching, I often say that progress is a journey. It is, but it doesn’t have to be linear. In fact, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, it rarely is. We slip. We go back. We realise that we’re not where we were aiming for and have to retrace our footsteps.
This week, I’m spending some time deliberately retracing my footsteps. I’m going back, not because I took a wrong turn, but because I want to see how that scenery looks now. I’m thinking about who I used to be, the choices I made and the things I’ve learned. I’m examining the changes in myself and really acknowledging the effort I’ve put in to get here.
I suspect that, as a result of this reflection, I’ll find a few changes in myself that I hadn’t even notice happen. But that’ll be a story for another day.