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How to Find Your Second Wind on a Big Goal

2013 April 16

Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. ~Author Unknown

Kick-Starting a Second WindIt’s a pretty amazing feeling when you muster the courage to commit to a big goal or change in your life. Maybe it’s starting your own business, or heading back to school for an advanced degree, or finally writing (and publishing!) that first novel. Regardless of the desired end result, there are 2 distinct attributes almost every big objective has in common:

1. It always takes longer to accomplish than we think it will.

2. Somewhere along the journey you’re likely to get weary and probably a little discouraged, because no matter how much progress you’ve made up to that point, there always seems to be so much more to do.

Finding Your Second Wind

The second wind is a concept most often associated with exercise, particularly running, where an athlete who feels out of breath and too tired to carry on suddenly finds the energy to continue. It’s not too difficult to see the parallel if you consider that any major goal you set for yourself will require you to maintain a certain level of commitment and energy for an extended period of time; an undertaking that may find you working harder than you’ve ever worked before, and that you may not always feel up to.

The key to avoiding major delays or a full derailment is to anticipate that the bigger your goal, the greater the likelihood that you will have one or more periods where you will need to re-energize yourself.

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. ~William James

Cultivate the Habit of Self-Motivation

As nice as external support can be, there is not always going to be someone there to motivate you precisely when you need it most. Everyone is motivated by different things. Don’t wait until you experience a set-back to learn your own motivational triggers. Understand what excites you – what makes you feel like you could conquer the world. This is how you will fuel your own determination, whenever you need it.

Acknowledge You Have a Problem

Self awareness is the key to recognizing that you’re motivation in declining. The longer this malaise is allowed to continue the great the danger that pesky negative internal influences will begin to raise their ugly little heads and start seriously undermining your efforts. Once you begin second guessing your decisions and choices, it will be much harder to get back on track.

Regularly Revisit Your Ultimate Goal

Very often when working toward a big goal we break it down into many smaller steps, which helps us to make progress without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the undertaking. The problem is that over time we can begin focusing so much on the tasks at hand, we become disconnected from the passion we once had for the ultimate goal. To retain this connection and your commitment, regularly revisit your ultimate goal and remind yourself why you wanted to achieve it in the first place.

Acknowledge and Appreciate How Far You’ve Already Come

Next take a good look at what you’ve learned since you started working on your goal. This exercise will be a lot easier if you can get into the habit of keeping a journal and jotting down even the small things you learn and accomplish as you work toward your goal. Pick out a few key triggers that create a positive emotional response – they don’t need to big achievements, just something you struggled with and that gave you a sense of pride when you overcame it.

For example, as an author one of my triggers is thinking about the first time I formatted and published a book to Amazon. I cannot stress enough how absolutely clueless I was about the terms and the technology, or how discouraged I felt when it took me nearly a week to finally work my way through that project. Just last week I completed a revision for one of my books and it took me a little over half an hour to reformat the document and publish it to Amazon. To be sure it’s a relatively small achievement, yet thinking about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned helps me to off-set knowing how much farther I have to go to achieve my goals.

Take a Break

Once you’ve acknowledged the problem and re-centered yourself, it’s time to take a break before getting back to actively working on your plan. Don’t worry about losing momentum; consider this invaluable time to re-energize yourself.

  1. Determine how long a break to take. If you think a week will do the trick, block off a week in your calendar and then make sure that you write in your “return to work” date.
  2. Decide exactly what a “break” means. Does it mean you will consciously avoid all thoughts of your goal while doing something completely different, or just not actively working on tasks associated with the goal? Or will you simply avoiding certain aspects that you find more taxing than others?
  3. Give yourself a pass on any guilt trips. Every time you feel guilty remind yourself that the break from your project is temporary and your intention is to come back stronger than ever.
  4. On your return date, before you pick up where you left off, take time to review your long term plan and strategies to determine if there are any changes or course corrections needed. It’s far better to do this once you’re refreshed and motivated again.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever felt the need for a second wind? If so how were you able to achieve it?

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26 Responses
  1. April 29, 2013

    I totally agree with William James` quote about people not running far enough to ever find out there is a second wind to begin with. To be honest, for years and years I have given up on various goals and dreams the moment I felt stuck and demotivated. The truth is, every big achievement required hard-work and dedication but also a lot of patience. I guess that once you find your second wind it will boost your confidence and encourage you to keep pursuing your dreams.

    • April 29, 2013

      Welcome Simona and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree the James quote is insightful, but I think if you’ve found yourself regularly giving up on your goals then you might want to spend some time trying to figure our why … it could be the goals you set for yourself don’t align with your values; what I mean by that is many people set goals for themselves because they either sound good, or they are goals they think they should achieve for some reason.

      You might want to take a closer look at some of the goals you’ve given up on in the past – one at a time. Were you really passionate about achieving this goal? If not, why did you set this goal in the first place? If you were passionate about achieving it, try to identify at what point you gave up and why. Was there a point you decided you couldn’t hit the goal anyway, so why try? What happened to make you feel that way? Or possibly you began to fell overwhelmed with a BIG goal, and might have benefited by breaking it down into smaller steps. The best way to create meaningful change for the future is self-awareness. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Do You Feel Like a Fake Even When You Succeed?My Profile

  2. Arianne from seo jaipur permalink
    April 24, 2013

    Second wind is a clear chance to make the most out of our efforts.This time, we can give it our best after figuring out what went wrong with the first one. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. April 24, 2013

    I believe in second chances, most especially in chasing our dreams. Our first failure should never determine how we chase it. There’s always a second wind and this time, let’s make it better. :)

  4. April 24, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    Great post!

    I agree. “To retain this connection and your commitment, regularly revisit your ultimate goal and remind yourself why you wanted to achieve it in the first place.”

    We might be very busy with our individual plans but we need to always remind ourselves on the reason of why are we reaching for this little goals. Revisiting our bigger goal can give us the bigger picture of who we are and what can make us happy.
    Patricia Anderson recently posted..Finding Your Dream Job: Diane’s StoryMy Profile

  5. April 23, 2013

    Another motivational post from your kitty Marquita!!! I am going through a rough patch these days. Whatever I indulge in, goes in the wrong direction and everything gets ruined. This post came to me as a silver lining, and I gained ample points and lessons through this post. I guess it’s the right time for me to take a break and relax in order to start a new beginning. Thanks for the share.
    Aayna recently posted..Tips for Writing an Interesting Press ReleaseMy Profile

  6. April 23, 2013

    Finding a second wind in my opinion is essential if you want ultimate success. It is just part of the process towards your final goal as it gives you chance to recollect yourself, realigning your strategies and most importantly to give you a break so you can recharge yourself and come back rejuvenated. Great share.

  7. April 22, 2013

    Marty — Thanks for a great post! Your post reminded me that beyond the initial momentum that comes with any new project, we all have moments when we need to find a second wind — to step back, rest and remember our ‘why’. Anticipating these moments from the outset and identifying strategies to work through them helps keep us on track. Thanks for sharing! Sharon

  8. April 21, 2013

    I have such a hard time getting back motivation sometimes! Sometimes if I just take a break, like work on something new, it does give me new energy, though. I need to be at least aware of my issues though, just like you said. :) Great post!

  9. April 21, 2013

    I really need to take to heart your point about self awareness. Often enough I am aware, but I beat myself up over it instead of observing my feelings and moving on from there in a positive way. And oh, how easily it can become a problem!

    I love the first quote — “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” — I have a few very persistent ideas that need action to completion.

    Willena Flewelling recently posted..FOCUS on One ThingMy Profile

  10. April 21, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    Excellent points, beloved. You’ve done it again… provided us with excellent tips to be more productive.

    It can be discouraging when our goals seem to be taking us longer than we anticipated, and these are usually the times we notice how everyone else seems to be moving at a steady and constant pace.

    I have visited this place myself more times than I’d like to admit, but what has kept me persevering towards the finish line, is exactly what you list in the third section of the post.

    When I get in a state of panic for not being where I think I should be, I remind myself of how far I’ve come, in such a short period of time. When we place our attention on the journey, instead of the destination, we begin realizing that we are well on our way to seeing it to its completion.

    Thanks for the sharpening, my friend. I appreciate your sharing this with us. :)
    Deone Higgs recently posted..Who Broke the Golden Rule?My Profile

  11. Jan Moran
    April 21, 2013

    Thanks for giving me a second wind to finish me next book. Nice post! Enjoying your blog :)
    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe. Great to connect! Come visit mine sometime at

  12. April 19, 2013

    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

    Syl Stein
    sylvia stein recently posted..A Social Affair Blog Tour : Book SynopsisMy Profile

  13. April 19, 2013

    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

    Syl Stein +
    sylvia stein recently posted..A Social Affair Blog Tour : Book SynopsisMy Profile

  14. April 18, 2013

    I’ve definitely felt like I needed a second wind. I know exactly what you mean. Your last point about taking a break really stood out to me. I think it’s important that (when you take a break) to plan a pre-set date of return. Don’t just take a break with a general idea that you’ll be back because you may never come back if you don’t know when you’re supposed to. Procrastination can get in the way and cause failure if nothing is set in stone.

    Great post.
    Anne recently posted..Confidence And ForgivenessMy Profile

  15. April 18, 2013

    Hi Marty,
    thank you so much for your inspiring suggestions.
    Checking in with our why and how we would feel if we would achieve what we have set out to do makes a lot of sense.
    Thanks for the hints on taking a break, especially the ‘guilt free’ pass.

    Much appreciated!
    Love and Light
    Yorinda recently posted..Oil Pulling may transform general HealthMy Profile

  16. April 18, 2013

    Getting our second wind is so essential! These are some solid ideas on how to catch our breath and renew our focus on big initiatives. Even small breaks can make a big difference…. it may be spending a weekend going to movies or walking trails. Taking these breaks renews our commitment to the work we want to get done. Thanks for keeping us on the bigger trails of purpose! Jon
    Jon Mertz recently posted..EnduranceMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013

      Welcome back and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Jon. Yes, even small breaks help – the key is becoming aware of when you need them. This is just one reason I love working at home – when I feel that need to walk away for a time to clear my mind, I can do it. Makes a huge difference!
      Marquita Herald recently posted..How to Find Your Second Wind on a Big GoalMy Profile

  17. April 18, 2013

    Excellent post Marquita! It’s a great reminder that the larger the goal we set for ourselves, the greater the resistance we’ll face as we pursue it.

    Your suggestions are spot on. I especially find looking back at how far I’ve come to be helpful. It’s always surprising to see how much you’ve accomplished when you take the long view. Because during the day to day moments, it just never feels like you’re getting much done.

    And the truth is, that for the really big goals, you’re going to need a whole lot more than just a second wind to keep on going.

    Trevor recently posted..4 More Self-Help Myths . . . Stabbed in the Gut and Left to DieMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013

      Glad you liked the article Trevor, and you are SO right about the potential need for additional motivational bumps beyond a second wind! That’s one reason why I’m such a believer in the power of self-motivation. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..How to Find Your Second Wind on a Big GoalMy Profile

  18. April 17, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    Wonderful post, indeed!

    I loved the point you made about taking a break to help us find our second wind again.

    I find taking a holiday for a week, doing other fun activities and not thinking about my goal helps so much for when I get back to work. It’s like the rest has allowed my mind to come up with even more creative approaches to work on the goal, without actually thinking about it.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..Vipassana Meditation and its BenefitsMy Profile

    • April 17, 2013

      So glad you liked the article Hiten and I completely agree with your approach. I believe it’s much like when we stop struggling to remember something only to have it pop into our head when we’re least thinking about it. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to the conversation. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..How to Find Your Second Wind on a Big GoalMy Profile

  19. April 16, 2013

    Hi Marty,
    I just noticed your new post from your comment on my blog, Wow “How to Find Your Second Wind on a Big Goal” Yes getting rid of those pesky ads was a goal and I thought I was ready to celebrate but then I read your comment? Did you see the ads? I have been working diligently trying to get rid of them, Yes, I did see the problem, someone was posting ads on my clean blog and this annoyed me, this triggered some memories of the old me…

    I have tryed everything that I found to get rid of these, going as far as restoring my computer back to day #1! Then I found the problem was with wordpress, well I went though all my pages and posts after talking with Nile and found a few codes and deleted them..

    My ultimate goal was to rid me of these ads and was hoping I was done with it and ready to move forward with my clean blog. This post opened my eyes to a few things to, I need to step away now and make sure I am doing what I Love and get a second wind as you say!!

    Thanks for sharing and I am looking forward to your response.. Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Someone For FeedbackMy Profile

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