A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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We Choose To Do The Hard Things: On Debt Repayment and 50-Mile Runs


I ran across this circa-1962 JFK quote yesterday, and although I've seen it many times before, it resonated with me in a fresh way:

"We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win..."

Thinking about it, this as much as anything is why we are working so diligently (though imperfectly) to pay off our debt: because it is hard, and we want to see if we can do it. Because it requires long-term strategy, consistency, and determination. Because we are willing to accept the challenge and see it through. Because we are unwilling to postpone it. Because we want to earn the achievement of being debt-free. We're doing it not because it's easy but because it is pushing us.

Moreover, I chose to call this The 76K Project for a reason: my intention is for this process to be something my family works on together, something we all take satisfaction in and ultimately will take credit for. I want it to be one of those things where we look back as a family and say, "Remember those three years when we went on fewer trips and bought less stuff so that we could pay off the student loans?" I want it to be something my son takes notice of so that later, he'll use it as an example of concerted effort paying off.

I've also decided to do another hard thing, a new project, something that will organize and measure the best of my energies and skills: run a 50 miler. I love running long. I've run several marathons, completed a 36-mile stage race in the backwoods of Tennessee, and gotten 2/3 of the way into a 50K that I would have finished had I not missed a cutoff time by four minutes. Running big distances is tedious, time-consuming, and almost always painful. It takes massive amounts of preparation and training. Yet I can't think of many things that will measure the best of my energies and skills more than that. (I haven't picked a race yet. Stay tuned.)

It's no moonshot, but it's a big challenge. I want to see if I can do it.

What about you? How are you pushing yourself and challenging yourself lately? Do you do things just to see if you can do it?
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