The Bubble Worksheet

Our elementary school has a 100-mile running club for the students. They set a goal to run 100 miles during the school year. The gym teacher sends the students home with a worksheet filled with running bubbles. Each bubble represents 1/4 of a mile, and after they run that far, they get to fill in a bubble. When they fill in enough bubbles to equal five miles, they turn it in for a prize.

Each fall, one of my children signs up for the 100-mile running club and runs with great earnestness to meet the goal. At some point, he or she slows down and scales back. Then, the winter chill sets in, and since we don’t have a treadmill, the idea of running outside diminishes and the child stops altogether. At the end of the school year, each looks sadly upon the students who persevered and received the 100-mile running club award.

This year is the last year that I will have a child at the elementary school. Our youngest daughter, KH, recognized that if she’s going to meet the goal, it is this year or never. (Never mind that I could make up these sheets for them to fill in at home, no matter what their age.) I did all I could do to encourage her, and on the third day of school, I drove my car around the neighborhood and marked the distance for a one-mile run.

She is tenacious. She runs nearly every day and has already gone 20 miles in the first month. She said, “I want to do it. Its good exercise, and I’ve never got a fitness award before.”

I see her strong spirit, her single-minded focus, her fast pace, and I see myself.  I have a passion for meeting goals that I believe in, working at an increased pace for extended periods of time—days, months or years—without stopping. I don’t overextend myself, though, and only have one or two major goals like this in my life at a time so that I can commit to just that goal and my family.

Lately, though, I have determined multiple goals that I want to accomplish. Initially, as they presented themselves, I knew each one was right for me at this time. But, as each added onto the next, the requirements overwhelmed me. I asked myself, “How am I going to do it all?”

I wrote an insane schedule for myself and outlined my day, minute by minute, to accommodate all that I wanted to accomplish. But I knew I couldn’t keep to it, and so I asked, “Which of these goals should I keep and which should go?”

And then this insight came:

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

Mosiah 4:27 in the Book of Mormon

Each goal is important, but I do not need to run the 100 miles all in the first month. Since most of those multiple goals don’t have deadlines, I can change my pace and work on each at a slower pace over time.

Learning this and doing it is taking some practice, but some unintended consequences have forced me into it. I get up early every morning to meet the commitments of one of these goals. I have time enough to work a little bit on each goal throughout the day; yet, my energy levels lower as the day goes on, taking away the opportunity to push myself beyond a certain pace.

In the evenings I’m subdued rather than enthused, and that’s a blessing for one who runs on passion. I thought maybe I’d make myself my own bubble worksheet to hang above my desk, but I’m worried I’d succumb to the pressure to fill them up faster rather than see the accomplishment that each filled bubble represents.

1 Comment

  1. Holly
    Sep 29, 2008

    Her excitement is so uplifting! I hope she reaches her goal this year. I like how you related this to your own goals as well. Pace yourself 🙂

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