I was more than 18 hours into my run and slightly more than 92 miles closer to the finish line of the Arkansas Traveller 100 than when I started at 5 a.m. earlier that morning — and I had to go to the bathroom. Bad.

My stomach was blowing up. I didn’t feel like eating or drinking or anything else. I just wanted to run those last eight miles and be done with my first hundred mile race.

I stepped off the trail to handle my business, and my running partner took the opportunity to take a little break himself.

As I readjusted my gear, unpacking and repacking the necessary equipment, I noticed a set of headlights not too far away from me.

I thought it was strange that a car was way out here in the middle of the northern mountains of Arkansas —  but it wasn’t any of my business.

Kind of strange. Oh well. I had a race to keep running.

When I rejoined my running partner, he asked if I had seen the mountain lion or bobcat that was slinking around in the bushes next to me.

Needless to say, I picked up the pace and finished that race with a little more urgency that I had a few minutes previously.

What kept me safe was my imagination. Instead of seeing a dangerous animal, I saw a car and headlights.

I was completely distracted from a situation that could have been dangerous or deadly because I was living in my own world of dreams. My imagination protected me.

That’s a silly example. And certainly, for me, lack of sleep and the harsh conditions of running a 100-mile race contributed to my hallucinations.

What are you imagining? What big dreams and goals do you have for yourself?

The world will always be full of small-minded people and negative circumstances. There will always be things that distract you and days that seem to beat you down.

It’s going to happen. It might be happening right now.

In truth, the only thing that will keep you safe is a dream. The only way past mediocrity and negativity is imagination. Imagination and will.

Take some time each day — each morning — to imagine a better future. Challenge yourself to do something different today than you have done before.

Be consumed by the endless possibilities you have to achieve a breakthrough. Commit to making the small changes that will allow you to reach big results.