Goal Achieved! This fall, on Saturday, September 26, 2015, I completed my first 13.1 mile half-marathon, running the whole distance, without stopping or walking, in a time of 2.5 hours. My friends and family were amazed and happy for me. I felt proud of myself, as well as THANKFUL. How was I able to accomplish this goal? I give credit to the inspiration of others in my life, to good goal setting technique, and mostly, I credit the power of telling others.
Let me begin with the “back story.” In my early 20s, I ran regularly and participated in several 5K and 10K runs. Then life “ramped up,” I got busier with career and family, and somehow 25 years went by without regular exercise. Sure, I gained a few extra pounds, but nothing unacceptable. I felt fit and strong enough to do everything I needed and wanted to do in my life. And there was no “health scare” experience. So what changed?
Looking back, I can see that my return to running has a lot to do with inspiration. Somehow I was inspired to set a goal to train and run a half-marathon, even though I didn’t grasp this was happening at the time. Running a half-marathon was the culmination of a progression of steps that started with getting off the couch and going for a walk in March 2011.
The idea to start running again did not come out of thin air. It turns out I was inspired by certain people in my life. Although there are many who inspired me, I’ll tell you about three of them:
- First, there’s my colleague and sister, Jennifer Wilson. No one works harder, accomplishes more, and packs more into their life than Jen does. Yet she somehow always makes time for regular exercise, including running, cross training and yoga.
- Next, there are my neighbors, John and Jan Ochsenwald. These athletic trainers and owners of InStep Physical Therapy and Running Center, exercise everyday by running, biking or weight training.
- Finally, there’s Steve Wilson, my lifelong friend since high school, who also exercises daily by running, biking and hiking. Steve has completed the Iron Man triathlon and has logged thousands of miles biking across four continents.
Honestly, these people probably didn’t even realize they were inspiring me. They spoke more with their actions than words. None of them ever called me “couch potato” – they inspired simply by their example.
The timing of my return to running is also connected to my becoming a partner with ConvergenceCoaching in 2010. Through Convergence, I began to learn, to teach, to study, and to write about the “science” of goal setting, and to see the practical application of goal setting to getting more serious about my exercise program, as follows:
- GO BIG, HAIRY and AUDACIOUS – It’s important to set “stretch” goals that will challenge you. In my case, the farthest I had ever run previous to the half-marathon was a 6.2 mile 10K, so “doubling” my distance to 13.1 miles was clearly a stretch.
- BUT BE REALISTIC – While your goal should stretch you, you should to take into account your current condition. If you’re a couch potato, start by with walking, then run 1 mile without stopping, then 2 miles, and now you’re ready to set a goal to run a 3.1 mile 5K. And so on.
- BE SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE – Select the date of your race (9/26/2015), the distance you run (13.1 miles), the time in which you aim to compete your goals (2.5 hours), and any other “specifics” you need such as no stopping and not walking.
- BREAK IT DOWN – If you’re serious about achieving your goal, break it down into smaller steps – for example, sign up for the race, pay the entry fee, find a 12-week training program – then complete the first step right away to get started and build momentum.
- TELL OTHERS - Communicate your goals – write them down and TELL OTHERS.
I have found that TELLING OTHERS about your goal(s) is the most important and effective thing you can do if you’re really serious about achieving it. So I want to go a little deeper and address three important benefits:
- Telling Others Makes It Real - I first saw the powerful effect of telling others while instructing on goal setting at a management retreat in May 2011. To provide an “example,” I shared with over 100 partners and managers my goal to complete my first 3.1 mile 5K race by running the Big Berry Run on June 25th, non-stop in under 39 minutes! Telling others makes your goal “real,” it “locks you in” and makes you accountable. None of us, when asked how we’re coming along by one of the folks we’ve told about our goal, wants to admit we’re falling short or giving up! Read more about this at How To Move From Goal Setting To Goal Achieving | ConvergenceCoaching, LLC
- Telling Others Inspires Them – Telling others about your goal(s) allows you to inspire others, just as others in your life have inspired you. If your goal is running a half-marathon, they may be inspired to “follow in your footsteps,” or may be inspired, based on your example, to set and begin working on their own “stretch” goals, whatever they may be for them. Sometimes, I hesitate to tell others about my goal because it seems too “bragadocious.” Don’t listen to that “advice” from your little voice; tell others honestly and humbly about your goal and don’t miss the opportunity to inspire.
- Telling Others Allows You to Seek Advice – This is something “new” that I learned in the process of training to run my half-marathon. As you tell others about your goal, particularly those you know to have already completed your particular goal, ask for their advice on training, on the mental aspects, on the day of the race, on proper nutrition or whatever it may be. I learned a lot by asking advice from experienced runners, and looking back, I know the information I received made all the difference in achieving my goal.
Next time, I’d like to address “Goal Achieved? So What’s Next?” Meanwhile, we will continue to help our clients succeed by “setting” goals and most importantly “achieving” them by TELLING OTHERS. If you have any ideas or experiences to share on this subject, please post them so others can benefit.