Jennifer McClanahan-Flint is Founder of Food On our Table, a Family and Career Strategy Firm. www.foodonourtable.com

Jennifer McClanahan-Flint is Founder of Food On our Table, a Family and Career Strategy Firm. www.foodonourtable.com

Most mornings my dog Sadie and I go out for a run or walk. We have been running together in the city since 2005. Some days, I want to run and she wants to walk and many days I want to walk and she wants to run. We push each other, even on the days neither of us wants to get out of bed.

What I admire most about Sadie is that she never lets up when we are running up a hill. I should explain something here: San Francisco is full of hills. I have yet to find a neighborhood where I can run for 20 minutes without having to go up a hill. And more often than not, I have to go up a few flights of stairs, too.

I have noticed a common habit of many runners in the city, myself included. We run up the hill and stop about 100 yards from the top. I watched a man do it just last week. He ran up the hill at a decent clip, sweating but not breathing overly hard. Sadie and I were just starting to descend the crest of the hill, and just before we passed him, he stopped to take a break.

He was so close to the joy of the downhill momentum. I willed him to just take the few more steps to the top, but he stayed there as Sadie and I moved on down the hill.

As I thought about him, I reflected on the number of times I have seen people stop when they are so close to the downhill. I realized giving up before we reach the peak doesn’t only happen when we run; it is a metaphor for what happens in our lives.

In my work, I help women create new habits and patterns in their lives. I help them see things just a bit differently, and to use their strengths to change their lives. But change is hard, and many times we get caught up in the struggle without reflecting on our progress. Like running up the hill, we don’t look at how far we have come. We only focus on how much farther we need to go.

The most interesting thing, though, is when we decide to stop pushing ourselves to reach the summit.

The stopping point in any run is the point where we are training our bodies and minds to become stronger. When we push past the discomfort, we actually start to improve our capacity. When we continue our forward momentum up the hill, our ability to run up the next hill next time is expanded.

The hills become easier to run only after we’ve pushed ourselves to running to the top of each one.

The next time you are challenged by change or are close to an accomplishment but feel like it is just too much effort to keep going, don’t stop. Take a look at where you are on the hill. Notice how far you’ve come.

Are you close to the top? If you feel like stopping, you probably are.

When you are almost out of steam, reflect on how far you have come. It is certain to be quite a distance. If you keep the pace and continue to push past the discomfort, you will condition yourself to reach the top of the next challenge with ease.

(This post originally appeared on foodonourtable.com.)

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About Jennifer: Jennifer McClanahan-Flint offers a variety of solutions for high-achieving, professional women faced with the new territory of transitioning into leadership positions in their careers, while simultaneously transitioning into motherhood.  Jennifer understands the struggles that working moms face every day because she is a working mom herself. You can read more about Jennifer’s services on her website: www.foodonourtable.com.

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