How to Create the Life You Want: Ultra Runner Meg Mackenzie Talks to Acclaimed Coach Mareli Kruger
Do you ever feel stuck?
For example, you have good intentions to get out trail running, or train for a Personal Best in a trail race, or achieve a non-running goal, but never quite manage it?
We’ve all been there!
Run the Alps’ friend and Chamonix-based ultrarunner Meg Mackenzie talked with acclaimed coach Mareli Kruger about the internal and external obstacles preventing us from living the life we want and what we can do about them.
Highlights from their conversation are below.
You can also listen to the full conversation or watch it here:
If you like what you read, come join Meg and Mareli on a special women’s retreat in Chamonix, France this fall. Together, we’ll have the chance to dig deeper into these topics, get out on the trails, and be looked after by a wonderful chef in a glorious chalet. The retreat is being run in partnership with On Running, and every participant will receive a head-to-toe On Running trail outfit and gift bag.
The obstacles we put in our way
Meg: Mareli, can you tell us about some of the obstacles we all put in our way that keep us from living the life that we want?
Mareli: Yes! The four I see most commonly in coaching are: i) old beliefs; ii) pleasing others before self; iii) scattered energy and iv) commitment glitches.
Meg: What do you mean by commitment glitches?
Mareli: It’s when you’re not doing the thing that you need to be doing to serve your goals. And on a being level, it’s not being the person your dreams require you to be. For example, one of the big things that we do as human beings is we procrastinate. Almost all of us do it, and when we do we’re acting against our better judgment.
Meg: What can we do to help tackle these obstacles?
Mareli: One of the things that has helped me is drawing a distinction between my current self and my future self. When you’re procrastinating you’re doing what your current self wants. What your future self wants is something different.
For example, if you’re saying “I’ll just watch one more episode”, or “I’ll finish the cleaning, and then I’ll go for a run”, it’s your current self that wants to do those things, as an act of procrastination. What your future self actually wants is to be going for that run. Realizing that only your current self can serve what your future self wants is such a sacred gift that you can give yourself. It’s also good to realize that sometimes our motivation comes after we’ve started something.
Another really important tool is to practice the integrity principle, which is doing what you said you would do by the time you said you would do it. When we exercise that muscle, eventually we can get to a mode where easily and with lightness, our thoughts, our words, and our actions just become one. They flow as one, and then it’s not hard anymore for us to be consistently a powerful creator.
The impact words can have
Meg: Can the words we say, out loud and to ourselves, also make a difference?
Mareli: Absolutely. Feel for yourself the difference between words like, “I wish, I’ll try, I want”, versus “I will, I promise, I commit”. Imagine yourself saying “I wish I could get enough sleep and get to bed early so that I can wake up and have a good run in the morning”, as opposed to, “I promise I will be in bed by nine to wake up and have a wonderful run in the morning”. There’s a real energetic difference between them.
If we carry on wishing, that is the realm that we will carry on living. But if we want to bring our dreams into reality, we need to take action, and the first step is to commit to using our words, and then to act to honor that commitment.
Getting out of the morning auto-pilot
Meg: What about when we get up in the morning? Is there something we can do then to help us better create the life we want?
Mareli: Yes! The mode that we wake up into in the morning is autopilot, it’s unconsciousness, and if we don’t choose consciously, that is the mode that we stay in. When we’re in that mode we do the same old things in the same old ways. We might get lucky and get inspired by a podcast and find a new thing to do, but we will be doing it in the same old way.
To change this, you can ask yourself a powerful question, what would my future self do? Taking that moment and making that conscious choice allows you to access that magic portal to consciousness. And consciousness is just a different word for the most conducive environment for you to realize your dreams.
Meg: I do tend to wake up grumpy most mornings and then try to get out of my grump by putting on a podcast. So are you saying I need to switch off my podcast and start consciously choosing to get ungrumpy?
Mareli: Kind of, but it doesn’t have to be heavy. It doesn’t have to feel like discipline. You can look at it with lightness. If you put everything on the table, add everything to the buffet, and you end up choosing the same thing when you walk away, that’s okay. As long as you chose it consciously and you didn’t just muddle into it or fall into it out of habit.
Tackling imposter syndrome
Meg: I would love to change track and talk about imposter syndrome, because I believe that so many humans, especially women, experience it and often feel very alone.
Mareli: You’re a hundred percent right. It’s something that so many people, and so many women, experience, yet we don’t talk about it. Why? Because if I am feeling like an imposter, or if I’m holding the subconscious conviction that I’m an imposter, the last thing I’m gonna wanna do is admit it by talking to someone about it.
But when we do open up, we discover that more than 70% of working adults experience imposter syndrome and amongst women, especially high performing women, that percentage climbs to 85%.
Meg: Wow, that is crazy. Why do so many people experience it?
Mareli: One of the biggest sources can be a belief as innocent as “there’s always room for improvement”. When we over-identify with that belief it keeps us in the mode of, “okay, something wasn’t good enough. I just need to find what it was”. And this informs the lens through which we look and experience.
So the imposter goes, “I shouldn’t be here, I don’t deserve this, I will be found out”, and then looks for evidence. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? What was missing? What wasn’t good enough?” And then, because you’re looking for it, you find the evidence and you feed the imposter, and the cycle continues.
Meg: How can we go about breaking that cycle?
Mareli: Instead of following the loop, we can go, “Alright. I hear the imposter chatter in the background, but what I consciously choose to do right now is focus on and look for what went right. What did I do well? What successes did I have? What can I build on? What can I replicate? What can I duplicate?”
Doing that gives you an exit out of that circle. It gives you a new detour, so that you can get new possibilities, new opportunities, instead of old evidence.
Serving others versus yourself
Meg: We’ve chatted quite a bit about some of the limiting beliefs and obstacles that people put in their way, but are there things that are more specific to women?
Mareli: Definitely. One of the things that I encounter with women more is pleasing others before self, and this scatters your energy. It keeps you from showing up powerfully.
It might feel in line, and can even be in line, for you to live your life from family first or “first the kids, and then I can…”. But, what happens when we over-identify with the root belief of these values, that selfless service for women is the highest virtue, is that we lose ourselves in the needs of others. We have women experiencing a lack of fulfillment, because they’ve not given themselves the opportunity to take a moment and identify the needs, the wishes, and the desires that they need fulfilled.
Meg: How might someone know if they are neglecting their own needs?
Mareli: It can often feel like your energy is scattered. That you’re being pulled in different directions, trying different things, hoping that one thing will work. Like you’re fishing in the dark and your power is diluted.
But there are things you can do to address this. For example, I encourage all my clients to take the time to ask themselves, “Who is this self of mine? What is important to her? What does she stand for? What is her purpose? What is her Why? What does she absolutely not stand for?” Answering all of these questions is like clearing away the smoke so that you can show up clearly and powerfully.
It gives you a checklist, so that when you’re being pulled in different directions, you can ask yourself, “Does this fit with my values? Or, out of all the options, which aligns with me best?” It helps you start to experience aligned energy, where you’re pulled into the future by your purpose.
Meg: Yes! After many years of coaching, you’ve helped me get clear on my purpose, and I can vouch for it being the most powerful and wonderful thing you can do for yourself. I really do encourage everyone to give it a try!