Many years ago, I decided to start running. I began by alternating between walking and jogging every 30 seconds. Eventually, I worked my way up to running 10K races.

My first competition was fun! The weather was sunny and the course flat. My second race, not so much. The day was overcast and cold, the route was hilly and as I approached the finish, I slowed down, thinking, “I can’t run another step.” At that moment, a woman tapped me on the shoulder. “I’ll run with you,” she said. “Don’t stop! We’re almost there.” We crossed the finish line together and, even though I was a bit breathless, I managed to thank her.

Just like that race, life is unpredictable. Even with expert planning, obstacles can throw you off course and make you feel as if failure is imminent. But that 10K experience taught me three things.

First, to get ahead, you have to silence your inner critic. Stay away from negative thoughts by thinking positive ones. Instead of saying, “I can’t,” think to yourself, “I can run another step.”

Second, let the past inform future successes. I went into my next race with a tougher mind-set, better preparation and a willingness to embrace challenges instead of pushing them away.

Third, look to like-minded individuals for motivation. Chase after the person in front of you, and try to reach out and pull others along on their journey as well, the way that stranger did for me.

Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care if you run or walk in the direction of your goals. It only wants you to keep moving toward them. Don’t stop! You’re almost there.

This originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Family Circle Magazine 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, is a mother of four, a psychiatrist in New York City and director of guest support for The Jeremy Kyle Show. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at