For the last few years, I’ve run about 2 half marathons each year. One year I traded a half for the Marine Corps Marathon, my first full.
My goal for my very first half in Virginia Beach was to finish in less than 2 hours. I did it. And I learned a lot in the process.
Six months later I ran my second race and finished 13 minutes faster at 1 hour, 45 minutes on a more challenging course. I knocked off a full minute per mile because I was better conditioned.
I remember saying to myself during the race, “I feel great. This is awesome!”
I don’t run with a watch so I didn’t know my time until a friend who’d been tracking me online sent me a text. I remember exactly where I was when I read it. I was pretty stoked.
The same cannot be said though for some of my later races, those races for which I wasn’t very well-trained. It’s amazing how much easier it is to maintain an 8-minute mile for 13.1 miles as opposed to a 9-minute mile when not in as good of shape.
In those races, “I feel great” got replaced with “Why am I doing this?”
For many of us, this is what happens with our goals.
In January we’re fired up about them. We tell ourselves this is the year the weight is coming off. We’re going to find a better job. We’re going to start getting out of debt.
By the time May rolls around, we’re 2.1 pounds lighter, in the same job we hate and we’ve only paid off part of one credit card.
Somewhere between January and spring, life happened. We got busy. All sorts of unexpected events happened. The roof had to be replaced, and we had to put it on the VISA.
It all seems too hard. “Why am I doing this?”
Achieving goals isn’t always easy. We don’t establish action plans to achieve our goals. Emergencies occur. We get lazy. And so often we forget.
We forget why we set a specific goal in the first place. But there’s something that can be done to get us back in the game. Something wonderfully simple.
Writing down the reasons we set a goal.
Some call these “internal motivators.”
When I lost 55 pounds my junior year of high school. I knew why. But if I’d written down the reasons, the list would’ve probably looked like this.
I don’t want to be fat anymore.
I want to feel more confident.
I’d like to have a girlfriend.
I want to look more attractive.
Once I decided to lose the weight, I was committed. When the pounds started coming off, I got even more committed. Nothing was going to stop me from achieving my goal. The treadmill was my close friend, where today, it’s my nemesis.
Back then though the treadmill represented something bigger.
But we’re not always hyped up about some of our goals. Some we set because we know we should, and we know it’s going to be tough to achieve them.
We know ourselves. We know our flaws and weaknesses. We’ve all had those conversations with ourselves about feeling afraid or like a failure. These aren’t usually things we tell others about or share on Facebook.
But when months have passed and we’ve either done nothing to achieve a goal or it’s just been hard, reminding ourselves why we set a goal can save us.
Pulling out the list of goals and reading…
Goal: To lose 20 pounds this year
I want to feel better about myself
I want to be healthier
I want to know my grandchildren
…can literally be a life or death situation.
My next half marathon is the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tenn., April 7. I have a training plan hanging on the refrigerator, and it’s going well. My goal is to run it in 1 hour, 50 minutes or less.
But more importantly, my goal is to trade in “Why am I doing this?” for “I feel great.”
Question: Have you written down the reasons for your goals? Do you see the value?