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Outcome, Intention, and Marathons of Life

This is thoughts on the page and post before I stop and really figure out what I want/need/am trying to say. I started with one thing, ended with another. In short, a perfect example of what this post is about.

When I was running (a great many miles) Sunday, I passed a man who was wearing a shirt with a quote that ran along the lines of the following: history records results; your intentions don’t matter. Obviously, I am phrasing this rather loosely, and I wish that I could be more specific, but I had run 19 miles at the point, and my memory of scenes from my runs are foggy at the best of times, so you’ll have to forgive me.


Regardless, the shirt got me thinking (always a fatal error).

The quote was meant to be applied to running/competing, and the fact that people don’t remember if you started the “race,” but whether or not you crossed the finish line. While, yes, I can see that being incredibly true in certain milieu, I have a real and aching problem with this being applied to running/competing. No, I am not the person who thinks that everyone should always get a gold medal in everything, but I definitely think that those who put the effort in should be recognized for their intentions. I have a real problem with people who saunter across finish lines with a devil-may-care attitude, regardless of how well they do.


I think this is by and large because, though I am thumbs up at just about everything (wait for me, here), there isn’t anything that I feel I can say HOLY CRAP THIS IS MY CALLING. There is little that comes “naturally” to me. Pretty much everything that I am now what you would consider “above average” at, I have fought for. I have put in serious time, effort, and emotion into. I came in with intention, but that doesn’t mean I always achieved the desired result. (Helloooooo job search)


We all run marathons in our life–sometimes they are measured to be 26.2 miles. Sometimes they are learning a new language, getting a degree, learning to cook. But whether you are a runner, a stay at home mom, a student, or just trying to figure out what you want to be, know that we all have our marathons. And some of us are gifted runners, others are not. But start with intention, build with execution, and move towards result. You might not get the result that you originally intended to get. But here is my question to all of you:

Does it matter?

What matters in marathons and life? The intention? The follow through? Or whether or not you hit a home run?

I don’t have the answers to this. I don’t expect you to, either. I am just interested to know what you think. I see both sides of the coin.

“I believe that we must align our

What I truly know is that, at the end of the day, what matters most is that you are a good person who lives with morals, ethics, and encourages others to do the same. Falling short of that intention is, in my opinion, the only true failure in life.

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  • Reply Run Colby Run

    For me, it’s the process. It’s the journey. I have learned more about myself while working towards reaching a goal- literal or figurative- than I have after having achieved it. The journey- the training-the process- has revealed more about myself than I have ever thought possible! As someone who is not necessarily a Natural, I think the process is what appeals to me most. If I were gifted at things, the result may matter.

    Lookit you all heavy and junk. Love it! 🙂

    September 9, 2014 at 6:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think what you said–that you learn more about yourself while working towards a goal, than after achieving it–is so, so important. That is why, at the very end, I added in the idea of the interstitial zone of the work, the process that leads to it. Life isn’t just starts and ends, it’s the grey in between!

      September 9, 2014 at 11:44 am
  • Reply Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete

    I am beyond impressed with this post, my darling friend. I know that your intention is never to attract attention based on your opinions or views, but rather to get ones brain-gears workin’. Mine are definitely going (that’s the awful noise you hear coming from the NW side).

    Just a lovely post. Thank you.
    Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete recently posted…Simply Marvelous – Harry’s Chili Recipe!My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 6:18 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well thank you, that really means so much to me. And just add a little oil–you’ll be cranking along smoothly before too long. It just made me think, reconsider, think some more, and I thought it was worth posing.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:46 am
  • Reply Michele

    It has the be the follow through! Otherwise, in my eyes, it’s not real!
    Michele recently posted…Ready or Not – Higher Mileage is HereMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 6:57 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I guess my question is, that if you don’t achieve the goal, have you failed? What if you went out with the best of intentions, but you just missed one slight thing, and came up short? Like a husband trying (and failing miserably) to complement his wife?

      September 9, 2014 at 11:47 am
      • Reply Michele

        I think in that case the intention definitely counts! But live and learn might apply too! I think if you learn and grow it’s not failure.
        Michele recently posted…Ready or Not – Higher Mileage is HereMy Profile

        September 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm
        • Reply suzlyfe

          Totally feel you there.

          September 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Farrah

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post! I don’t believe in the whole “gold star for everyone!” philosophy either, but I think setting out with the right intentions and doing your best should be recognized in some way too. My thoughts may be somewhat skewed because there’s been very little in my life that’s ever really come easily/naturally to me too, but I think there’s a lot to be learned in the process of working towards where you want to be. :] That being said, however, I do have way higher expectations for myself if I happen to actually be doing something I’m supposed to be good at. 😛
    Farrah recently posted…Cajun Potato SaladMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 6:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I relate completely to what you said, (little has come super easily to me, either), but especially with the last thought. Sometimes I go into something thinking, na, we’ll just see how it goes. Then I get completely caught up in it when it goes better than I could ever hope!

      September 9, 2014 at 11:49 am
  • Reply Rae

    Thought-provoking as usual… I think it’s really a little bit of both. Intention matters, the work you put in matters, but the results can sometimes matter just as much. And different situations put weight on the different aspects.
    Rae recently posted…From the Mind of a Busty RunnerMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 7:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Totally agree. It’s a classic mind f***.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:49 am
  • Reply Erica { }

    Hmmm – I kind of think intention is everything (isn’t that some cliche?) Yes, follow through matters but I agree that hard work is it’s own reward regardless of the final outcome.
    Erica { } recently posted…New Science ‘Duh’: Study Finds That Any Diet Works if You Stick to ItMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 8:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Love the way you said that hard work is it’s own reward. A great way to phrase it.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:50 am
  • Reply Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants

    I am all about the journey – showing up each day as your personal best, no better, no worse and knowing that will look and feel different all the time.
    Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants recently posted…Treat Yourself Tuesday – Fall Favorites!My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 9:15 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I knew you would have that answer 😀 and I love that you do. Give what you have to give everyday.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:51 am
  • Reply Ursula

    I love this post. I’ve never felt like I had a calling either and I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I definitely think that the hard work is the important part. The follow through is what teaches us lessons about ourselves and sure, people who win are remembered and maybe that (and the end results) is what’s important to some but I’m all about learning from our experiences. How can we really change as people and learn if we didn’t have to put in hard work, effort and struggle even just a little? Final note, I think the things I’m most proud of in life are the things that I’ve had to work for. For example, I’m a good singer and it’s easy for me to do well in that area. In school I was performing at a competitive level and winning but it all came pretty easy. I am a crappy athlete. I’ve had to work really hard to achieve my triathlon goals and I’m a thousand times happier with myself from them than anything I’ve done with music.
    Ursula recently posted…Phyllo Pizza with Fresh Basil and MozzarellaMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 9:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, you hit on the crux too–that the things that we’ve worked hardest for (and gotten, to whatever extent), are the things that we are most proud of. I also am not a naturally gifted athlete. I’m just not. I’ve had to tape myself back together more times than I care to think about. But that is why, this time around especially, I am proud of whatever my body gives me.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:52 am
  • Reply Sarah

    Nailed it. Again. Needed to read this post this morning.
    Sarah recently posted…Training 9/1-9/7My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 9:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Happy to oblige my dear.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:53 am
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Great thoughts…and I can see it both ways too. We may have good intentions but be unable to follow through with something for reasons out of our control. And we may do everything right but still not be “successful”. I think as long as you give it your best effort (with intention and follow through) then the result shouldn’t matter as much. Especially in marathon! I mean you can have the absolute best intentions and follow through but things just suck on race day…I don’t think all that hard work should go unnoticed!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Humidity and Hills: My Two Worst Running EnemiesMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 9:47 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Precisely. I had to wrestle with the idea that I might DNF or whatever with my marathon last year. And then it became, well, I’m going to go and do it because I want my damn medal not for the day of, but for the training! There are just so many gradients of success….

      September 9, 2014 at 11:54 am
  • Reply Courtney @RunningforCupcakes

    I needed this. As my marathon is quickly approaching I worry every day that I may not be strong enough to cross that finish line. You never know what will happen out there on the course and I know I will be devastated if I DNF. SO many people know I am running my first marathon in just a little over a month and I feel like if I don’t end up finishing I will be letting them down. This post has put it all into perspective for me. It’s not all about finishing. The fact that I had the heart and desire to wake up every Sunday at early o’clock to run all the miles shows more dedication and strength than anything else ever could. So yes I do still want to finish the marathon and will be devastated if I don’t, but the fact that I even had the intention to run a marathon is pretty amazing! (in my opinion) 🙂
    Courtney @RunningforCupcakes recently posted…Disneyland 10k RecapMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 9:51 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree with your opinion! I mean, read what you just wrote: “The fact that I had the heart and desire to wake up every Sunday at early o’clock to run all the miles shows more dedication and strength than anything else ever could. So yes I do still want to finish the marathon and will be devastated if I don’t, but the fact that I even had the intention to run a marathon is pretty amazing!”
      That. Is. Success. Don’t you forget it.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:55 am
  • Reply Brianna @ I run He tris

    I understand what that guys shirt says because yes, history only records the best, fastest, or most memorable events. I know that I’m never going to break records but that doesn’t mean us ‘normal people’ can’t inspire others out there. I don’t buy into the whole everyone gets a trophy thing (unless it’s a race because dang it I want my medal) but I do think everyone deserves some recognition. We all run the same 13.1/26.2 miles no matter how fast or slow it was. I want Brice to grow up playing sports and to understand there are winners and losers and realize that you don’t just get handed things in life. Intentions are very important, but you have to follow through with those intentions for it to be a success!
    Brianna @ I run He tris recently posted…Finally a moment to breatheMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 10:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree–recognition is important. It doesn’t mean that you “won” but that you did it. Like there is a valedictorian, but you get your diploma. The hard part is the fact that you can get a diploma the same as the person that did jack squat, but just got by. I think that is why it is awesome to have things like honor roll and such, because you get that extra recognition of your hard work while still letting #1 be #1.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:57 am
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    I agree. Putting effort in should get recognized. Kudos for you getting in 19 miles by yourself this weekend. Sorry I couldn’t be there to keep you company along the way. I don’t think I could go that far by myself. Great Job!
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Disney’s Fall Races PreviewMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 10:44 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I missed you! We will rain check it though, for sure. It ended up be the right time for me to do the 20, and then this guys shirt and my thoughts kept me company for the final mile.

      September 9, 2014 at 11:58 am
  • Reply Annmarie

    Oh man, this is some deep thinking for a Tuesday morning. I am also the kind of person that has to try hard and work for anything I do and I find comfort in trying my best and hardest at something even if that means I fail or end up in a different direction. What I do find annoying is people who claim that they have intentions but there is no action to prove it.
    Annmarie recently posted…Nuts for NuttZo- Review & GIVEAWAY!My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 10:54 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ugh, I can’t stand anyone who has “false” effort that they fall back on. If you are naturally gifted, own it. If it just happened, own it. Don’t pretend to be what you aren’t.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    I saw you mention this on IG this morning and it really got me thinking too. I don’t know what I ultimately think about this…I think intentions are very important and should be recognized, but you also have to be held accountable if you do/don’t achieve the results that you wanted from your intentions. When you’re talking about fitness or lifestyle changes, I think that’s especially true. With life, though, I don’t think there’s ever a point when someone can say THIS IS THE RESULT (aka the end). Where you are now, where I am now, is not “it”. It’s not done, so it’s not really a result. It’s a journey. Now I feel like I’m rambling haha but say your job search…even though you have a full time job now it’s still not the result of your years of hard work in college, as a personal trainer and waitress. It’s just another stepping stone along your journey. Capiche? 🙂
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Lentil Bruschetta Dip (recipe)My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 10:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Capiche 😀 I like the idea that with life, you can’t ever just say, “This is the result.” Because we live on in how we have impacted others, regardless of the point in our journey.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    Very deep. I always like to say that I am a good person but I’m not always a nice person. Being someone who is wildly competitive but not very good at anything athletic, I’ve always had such a jealous, envious, kinda-hate relationship with people who have natural talent and don’t put in the effort. My own personal mantra for quite some time has been “commitment over talent” I like to think that it’s the journey that matters, but sometimes, it’s hard to enjoy the journey when everyone else is lapping you 😉
    Sarah recently posted…My Weekend: Lorde, Race Volunteering, a Long Run, & Frisky FallMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      “Commitment over talent.” Beautifully put, as well as the concluding sentence: I like to think that it’s the journey that matters, but sometimes, it’s hard to enjoy the journey when everyone else is lapping you. I follow that up with something that I just said to someone else: I think that there are valedictorians, but you have to remember that as long as you pass, you will get a diploma. That is both comforting and frustrating–but it still gives you that recognition and that hope.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm
  • Reply Caitlin

    What’s the point of doing something unless there’s no meaningful intention (or intention at all) in doing it? For me, most things I do right now have a point (even if it’s just laying in bed, watching movies or reading…I need the rest so I take it), and I use that reasoning to get me through when I don’t want to do something. Don’t want to run x amount of miles? Well, why are you training in the first place? What’s your goal? Focus on that, take one mile at a time, and let the rest go. Don’t want to drive to Pittsburgh again? Well, you made a commitment and get to see to the boys for a few hours and make money (which you need) on top of it…and they expect you to behave a certain way with them, which you will do because it’s what you do with people you love even when you’re tired, cranky, etc. That’s how I find meaning in life. I like what Colby said about the journey being more important than the end result. I could not agree more with that and feel the same. It’s on the journey that I find out what I’m made out of and where I want to go next.
    Caitlin recently posted…Taking PicturesMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Beautifully said as well. And I like that approach, of setting goal, moving towards it, doing what you can, and when the going is tough, of getting yourself to remember why you are doing this in the first place. Because that psychological ploy is the optimal way of reinforcing why you want/are fighting for something.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    I have to agree with you about what matters most. People who live their lives ethically, with strong morals and work to lift people up and not tear them down is incredibly important to me. I also believe that having good intentions matter, while we don’t always get that end result, its the drive and motivation, hard work, etc to try and see it through is always an important (and sometimes the most important part) of the journey.
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…Why running in the Summer makes you faster in the FallMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So on the same page with you. As I have gotten closer and closer to thinking about having children, these thoughts have come to the surface more often–what do I want to impart to my kids? What if, though the intention is to have them, I can’t? Have I failed? That is why I see it as running-applicable as well as life-applicable.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm
  • Reply Jill

    I used to be extremely results oriented but mostly just with myself. As a teen/young adult I was classic Type A overachiever and didn’t realize how damaging this was until later in life. Failure at anything was almost life ruining for me. Now I approach things much differently. I believe it’s the intention and effort that matter and not necessarily the result. You can’t win at everything. It’s just not human. Failure is simply a signal for us to take a new direction. But the trying and the work that goes into a goal are never really wasted. Life is after all just one giant classroom 🙂
    Jill recently posted…Half Marathon #5 Recap: Lehigh Valley/VIA Half MarathonMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:30 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Love that last sentence: that life is a giant classroom. I’m glad that you have a new approach, and I think that it is so obvious in your relationships (at least from what I can see) and the way that you live your life. You have manipulated your former insistence on success to dedication to your pursuits (including your family), and I think that is beautiful.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    Great and thoughtful post, Suz.

    My basic answer is … it depends.

    When it comes to professional things, just showing up and trying is definitely important, but ultimately you need results to succeed. For most other things … it can be the process.

    I often say that life is a marathon, with ups and downs and small in-process victories and defeats. But in life we never know how long our marathon will be, so we just do the best we can, make each day a reflection of who we are and who we want to be.
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Tunes Tuesday – Pop Music SnobberyMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:51 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thanks, and I agree. Like everything in life, there is a grey area. I think that is why the shirt stuck with me–I didn’t like the absolute-ness of it! And you are so right–the marathon of life is an unknown length, so you try to always put your best foot forward.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    ( I have now found a Wi-Fi that works so–)

    Suzlyfe’s mommy’s thoughts on the marathon of life and other races…..
    Looking back with MANY years of experience——-and having never won a blue ribbon in any kind of sport-type event ever!

    I used to think it was all about doing your best………
    Then, I added that you don’t have to win………..
    Then, I added that you can’t finish if you never start……….
    Then, I decided that its about the journey………..

    Now, its more about starting, trying your best, but taking the time to enjoy the journey …..and the scenery along the way……

    Life has a starting line and a finish line……. it is a journey…… and if we rush through it always trying to be the winner …….we will miss so many of the wonderful sights along the way


    September 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Beautifully said.

      September 11, 2014 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie

    This is such a humbling thought. I bet most of the time we all have good intentions, but how many times are they actually brought to fruition? I ended on working out to day…that intention turned into eating cookies and pizza instead.
    Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie recently posted…A Few Friends to Make Your Day BetterMy Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, the workout might not have come to fruition, but pizza and cookies is a pretty fab outcome lol

      September 11, 2014 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Ariana

    Very thought-provoking post! I think the intention behind things is what matters…because in my opinion, our intentions ultimately set up our outcomes. I, like you, have worked really hard to achieve everything I have so far, and I have found that even when my ventures aren’t successful or I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, if I attacked them with the right attitude and tried to learn something from the outcome I still came out of it feeling good.
    Ariana recently posted…So Ya Wanna Be a Personal Trainer?My Profile

    September 9, 2014 at 11:59 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Very well said. I agree with you that the origin and intention informs the outcome and the process because if you come in with goodness, you drastically increase your chances of continuing to approach your life and situations with goodness. It is next to impossible to find the good in something if you start from a place of bad intentions. Happiness is relative, and easier to turn around because it is a feeling. But good intentions are of a deeper level, and inform everything.

      September 11, 2014 at 10:07 am
  • Reply Katie @glutes and ladders

    I think it’s a little bit about the intentions, but we have to DO good things, not just intend to do them.

    September 10, 2014 at 1:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Agree. Especially if they involve others, it is important to commit to the follow through.

      September 11, 2014 at 10:08 am
  • Reply Gluten, Dairy Free Chocolate PB Zucchini Oat Protein Bread - Suzlyfe

    […] yesterday’s thought-heavy post (ps, if you haven’t read the responses and comments, you just gotta. Loved all the different […]

    September 10, 2014 at 5:20 am
  • Reply Cassie

    Great post (as always, duh). I think what is important is the intention… and trying your damnedest to follow through. You can’t just have the intention “oh I’ll run a marathon” but not TRY and follow-through. You have to make progress towards those intentions for them to count. Now you have me thinking!
    Cassie recently posted…How to Prepare for a Ragnar Relay [and a Giveaway!]My Profile

    September 10, 2014 at 10:12 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I know, it got me thinking to! You need one to have the other, but then one doesn’t count without the other, but then one may or may not need the other to get to the last. Total mind f***

      September 11, 2014 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Jenni @ Fitzala

    Ah, love your thought-provoking posts! What matters in life is what you’re asking… Isn’t that the eternal question?

    I do think we need to live with intention. And that intention will define whether or not what you’re doing matters. If you just like to run and do marathons for the fun and camaraderie, then you’re achieving your goal. I’m playing softball with a co-ed team right now and the goal is to have fun and spend time with friends. Not win. And we accomplish that, while losing every game.

    I’m not saying that follow-through isn’t important, it is. It’s bad for our self-esteem to continually start things and abandon them. I really think it fuels a cycle of that. Sticking with something all the way through builds character.

    I don’t know. My brain hurts now. You make me think too much 🙂
    Jenni @ Fitzala recently posted…Are you afraid to eat bacon? Here’s why you canMy Profile

    September 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahahahahaha now you know why I left it so open ended. It’s the impossible question. Love your thinking out of it–I relate so much to each part of the response. If I was determined to get Boston, then my lack of speedwork would be a huge issue. But you know? I’m doing this for me. And putting in the effort, fighting for it, builds character, as well the attempt to follow through (and whether or not I achieve the desired result)

      September 11, 2014 at 10:28 am
  • Reply 6 Months, 3 Months, Right Now: Heart Opener Giveaway - Suzlyfe

    […] to me, is a perfect illustration of the intention/process/result argument. Look at my intentions, look at the process, and we are about to find out the result. But I […]

    September 12, 2014 at 5:21 am
  • Reply AMBER

    Hm, this got me thinking
    What matters more?
    Your intention or your result?
    I think it depends on the situation, trying something new for the first time and failing – intention matters more, because you tried, weren’t afraid to fail, and finished the task/etc. regardless.
    A work/home/school project – result, your final product matters most, because it is something you should have put forth effort and time into, so whether you intended to do well, doesn’t matter, you SHOULD have done well!
    AMBER recently posted…Glamorizing IBSMy Profile

    September 12, 2014 at 6:38 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So true! But it still hurts when you fall short.

      September 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply Marathon Mindset: What The Marathon Means for Me - Suzlyfe

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    September 30, 2014 at 5:16 am
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    […] I had for myself over the course of the year. Well, let’s just say that this is one time when intention/result were very much inferior to the follow […]

    October 14, 2014 at 5:33 am
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