Goals are a Funny Thing

I’m at 13 of 1,300 kilometers.

Man, that doesn’t seem very far into my goal! I have a long way to go. Or could I turn that around and realize that I have started in on my goal and that 13kms are behind me? Or I could not think about it at all. Just keep chugging away and think about it less often, not worry about it till I’ve hit 130kms. Or review it when I hit the the number of kms that matches getting new runners.

Goals, or targets, are a funny thing. And how you set them, manage and achieve them can be very personal.  You need to find a way to make goals work for you and to realize them. They can keep you moving forward or they can paralyze you. I like to think they keep me moving forward, but then I don’t really set goals in the traditional sense.

A few years ago a girlfriend of mine was celebrating with me the achievement of one of her dearest goals. We were discussing all the steps and life events that brought this goal to pass and she started showing me her “goal book”.  

I had heard all about goal books, goal setting and all the work that goes with it. That’s why I never got into the whole goal setting thing. Too many steps, rules, procedures, blah-blah-blah…  And recording, discussing, reviewing, blah-blah-blah…  And my girlfriend was reinforcing all that I loathed about it. She was part of a goal group (guh, group sharing).  She wrote them down in perfect detail every day (journaling, blech). She went through all the steps and charts (so formal, grrr). At any rate it was working great for her and she was rocking it.

Structured goal setting was something I never got into.  I felt it had so many steps and procedures that I never started. I never “laced up my shoes” because I had this picture that it had to be done just right or not at all (spot the gal with too many MBA friends). I’ve always had plans, I’ve had set routines, I’m obnoxiously organized and I’m terminally task oriented. I’ve done fine in business and in life. But real, live goal setting – not so much.

Anywhoo, you’re never too old to try something new. I went away from that evening with my girlfriend, not able to put out of my mind how well this was working for her. Then she lent me a book about about it. The book didn’t really work for me either, but I kept thinking that there must be a way to incorporate this into my life. So I googled goal setting sheets, and I tried to get moving on them but I kept putting tasks to achieve goals where there should have been goals. And I was confusing making them measurable with achievable. Essentially my face was melting off and I was using up time that I could have been doing something – or nothing – else.  

I needed an easy way to start so I decided to get a really cool notebook just to jot down some thoughts. Which meant I had to go to Chapters, yay. Whenever I had a lull I would just write down random thoughts of the “whats” I wanted, why I wanted the “whats”, who would benefit from the “whats”, what would change if the “whats” came to fruition. It was very informal. Very.  And fluid. Then I decided to add a mantra, just to give me more of a how the “whats” could happen. And the “whats” which were not truly “goals” somehow morphed into becoming my “goals”. And then all of a sudden I really got into it. I developed a very personal – and technically incorrect – goal setting system and routine. It looks nothing now like it looked a few years ago. It took on a life of it’s own and I haven’t looked back.  

I am hooked on my goal book now.  I write in it every morning. It keeps me focused and  accountable as well as starting my day off with a vision of where I am heading and and why I want to get there. It’s simple, there’s no hows or strategies. I am strictly thinking about the “whats” and the whys. I also review the previous day writing down the main events and fun little notes.

I liken this to running. If I planned out for every day how far I was going to go, how I was going to get there, what my pace was going to be I would probably freeze. Instead I have decided what my annual distance is going to be, which roughly equates to a weekly distance. It’s not overwhelming. So it is actually simple and pleasurable to just get up and enjoy heading out for the run. Of course there are routines and processes in place – shoes always kept at the front door, an idea of the weather so the gear is ready the night before. Running, life and business –  it’s easier to keep it on track and enjoyable if you’re organized to begin with.

Goals are a Funny ThingI concede my way of “goal planning” is not for everyone. Which leads me back to my initial thought, make it personal. Make it so it suits your style. Make it pleasurable, not a chore. It doesn’t have to be done the “right way”. But it’s so satisfying when it it does get done.

“The hardest part of going for a run is putting on your shoes.”