The Glorious Satisfaction of Goal-Setting
Without the risk of failure, you can skate through life without risking a blow to the diva housed in the front of your brain: the ego. You can spend dawn to dusk in comfortable clothes, eating comfortable food, doing comfortable things, and living a life of comfort. But I always preach that "nothing cool ever happened in your comfort zone." (See further enlightenment on the subject in "The Comfort Crisis" by Michael Easter). Helen Keller said, "life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." I refuse to settle for nothing. Daring adventure it is.
I am, by no means, a naturally-gifted runner. In grade school, I was cut from every single athletic team. It set a chip on my shoulder as insatiable as a Pringles' Original. As I got older, I kept jogging- slow and steady. It became my peace and stability. And along the way, with fitness and self-efficacy gains, I got faster. I set a goal in 2008 of running a sub-20-minute 5K. I failed, failed, failed, failed, failed, failed... until I succeeded. It took over a decade, but the struggle is what made succeeding so sweet. The sweetness wasn't just after I achieved the thing. There was sweetness in the struggle.
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our butts kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” -Brene Brown
In 2020, I set a goal of running 50-miles in a week. After I did it one time, I did it 8 more weeks in a row. It was excessive, but-- let's all agree-- 2020 was excessive.
2021 is coming to a wrap and I haven't run a single 50-mile week this year. I decided last Monday that this was the week (+ posted to social media to hold me accountable). Most of my runs included pushing my 40lb 4-year-old in a jogging stroller, and some include pushing a double stroller with say child and her entirely-too-big-for-a-stroller 8-year-old brother. Perspective is what makes the stroller experience fun for the three of us. My son is the DJ; my daughter is the snack lady; and I am the runner. Everyone is a taskmaster. These roles prevent it from being perceived, by the kids, as a banal sit-sesh while mom jogs.
There were obstacles galore: rain, flooding, sore throat, lack of motivation, fatigue, and a nagging feeling that this goal didn't matter. Indeed, it didn't matter... except to me. That's a big exception. I had to do it. And today, on the 7th day, I did it.
There will be other goals I set that don't have a successful ending. That's okay. The quest will be the win in its own right.
My favorite quote is by Steve Prefontaine. "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
If I had one piece of advice for you today, it would be to chase after a goal that's a little bit out of reach. You have survived 100% of your toughest challenges. P.S. You're stronger because (not in spite) of each and every one of them. Be brave and go for the thing that you don't know that you can do.