In case you can’t tell, I’m really fascinated with the concept and process of goal setting. For several months, I’ve been learning more about it and working to put into words what it is, how to get better at it, and why so many of us don’t do it effectively.
And now that I’ve put myself out there as a guy with substantial goal-setting “know-how,” I have a confession to make. Secretly I’ve been hoping to avoid the question, “So how‘s this goal setting theory working for you?” Because I’d have to admit, “Knowing is not the same as doing.” There’s simply no “walk” to my “talk” and no “practice” with my “preach.”
Inspired by many people in my life, I began to walk for exercise in March. In time, this led to the idea to start running again, and on May 17th I ran a mile for the first time in 25 years. It was not a pretty sight and no “personal best” time was established. However, it became clear that I could use the inspiration to put all this goal-setting “theory” into practice.
One of the first goal setting rules I’ve covered is that to make a difference, goals need to s-t-r-e-t-c-h you. They need to go over and above your everyday normal. They need to be “big, hairy and scary.” To begin running again after a 25-year layoff, to endure the physical pain of awakening my old, tired body, and to face the “unknown” of whether I can do this or not, certainly fits my criteria for a stretch goal.
Before I continue, I need to address the question of “relevance” – how does a goal aimed at improving my physical condition and health tie “directly” into my role at ConvergenceCoaching and to our firm’s strategy? The answer is: it doesn’t. But it does address an overall area of weakness for me and an opportunity for personal growth, which if achieved will improve my performance and capability across all areas of my life. And, lest we forget, it will help me to develop “actual” goal setting skills.
Now we can turn to how I have applied the other key elements of effective goal setting to my goal to starting running again. To be effective, my goal has to be:
- Specific – I have committed to participate in a 5K (3.1 mile) race on or before July 1st. I want to run the entire distance (with no walking) and finish in less than 40 minutes.
- Measurable – Getting specific helps to set a measurable goal, so I will know “if” and “when” it has been accomplished. A running program readily lends itself to measurability because I can state my goal in “miles” and “time,” and set an exact date on the calendar.
- Written and Shared – I first shared my goal with the partners and managers of a top 100 CPA firm at their annual leadership meeting on May 19th, while providing instruction on effective goal setting. I have since shared my goal with many others for the purpose of moving my goal from an idea to “reality,” increasing my level of commitment, and seeking the support and encouragement of others. By way of this blog, I’m sharing it with you, too.
I’m now in the process of breaking this specific, measurable, shared and “stretch” goal into “bite-sized” pieces that help me establish momentum and keep me pressing on toward the goal. These pieces include registering for the Berry Big Run supporting Big Brothers / Big Sisters on Saturday, June 25th at 9:00 AM, and taking my practice runs on the actual race course to make my preparation “real.”
And yes, I am dealing with the obstacles of travel and scheduling and with minor injuries, which all work to put doubts in my head and diminish my enthusiasm. But I’ve found the following words of an unknown author to inspire me to keep going: “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’"
As you can see, I am now set up nicely for my next blog when I “return and report” on the achievement of my goal. Meanwhile, we will continue to support our clients success by moving from “knowing” to “doing,” and most importantly, achieving their goals. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or experiences to share on this subject, or any hairy and scary goals of your own you want to share, please post them so others can benefit.