Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Setting of Goals

"I just like to run. I don't have any goals." "I'm just going with it. Whatever happens...happens." "I'm happy right where I am. I don't have to have a goal."

Sound familiar? I think I've said all three of them. Funny thing is, though. If you don't set any goals, you'll never reach one. Deep, I know! But true, right? My wife turned 40 this past October. At first, she wasn't dealing well with it. Hitting the 4-0 was hard for her. Truth be told, I really don't understand that as I will be 40 in T-2 months. It's just another day or as I like to say, another age group and 5 more minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon (should I ever want to strive towards that goal). To combat the dreaded 40 in her life, she set out on the "Year of the 40." She set goals...40 days in length, and put them into practice immediately. The first was 40 days of no Facebook. I honestly don't remember the 2nd one. The 3rd was 40 days of clean eating. Nothing processed, no meat, no sugar. Basically, it needed to grow from the earth to eat it. Let me tell you, it has been AMAZING!!! She just pushed past her 40-day mark and was victorious. Some of the most inventive, creative meals have graced our dinner table (and my lunch box) and I can't tell her enough "Keep going!!! I get to reap the benefits of YOUR goal!" She's happier and feels better, too. Like in running, you have to do something many times before it comes routine and for her, the 40 days in anything does that. Take pop/soda for example. Yes...it's poison. Yes, she has been drinking it for as long as she can remember. That was a biggie to give up. Well, some Diet Pepsi crept in the house after this past weekend's Stepping Up event I hosted and she decided that since she killed her 40 days of clean eating, why not just take a sip? She hated it. It was disgusting to her. What she expected was that feeling of "Yes! Carbonation!!!" Quite the opposite...she had reprogrammed her body to expect what is good and wholesome and when that was re-introduced, the brain said "No way!" It was a great confirmation and a landmark for her to drill down into the ground. Now, she has embarked on a new "40 days" goal: no shopping except for groceries. OK, ladies...you can relate with this challenge, right? If you're anything like MY wife, you like Target, Bath & Body Works, Starbucks, Kohl's, Marshall's, or anything ending in "Mall." This may be harder than the clean eating! Then yesterday, the coveted "30% off" anything coupon shows up in the mail from Kohl's. HA! Go figure! Well, I didn't sign off on 40 days of no shopping and no one said I can't buy her something so we'll see about that one. Talk about a test right out of the gate. Here's the thing and a big takeaway so far...from my vantage point. Her goals seem a bit out of reach...perhaps even impossible. I mean...really, clean eating for 40 days? 40 years of eating like an "American" and all of a sudden, you're essentially a vegetarian overnight? Sounds a bit IMpossible, I thought. She is proving me wrong and proving to me what goals can do...and how much would NOT happen should no goal had ever been set. "I'm proud of you, Babe."

In the workplace, I know so many people who are very content right where they are. That is all well and good but I still think you must set goals professionally. Whether it's continuing education, collateral duties, taking your performance to a new level, or moving into management, etc., you just HAVE to set some kind of goal. For me, I don't have a goal to be "X" within the government agency that employs me. Instead, I pull up the listings every morning as I sip my morning espresso and raw honey to see what's new. If I qualify and it's close enough to commute, I apply. Period. I want challenge, I want variability. I want things fresh and new and new people to interact with me and help me/make me grow professionally and as a human being. I'm in one of those "growing" phases right now. Nothing I can share yet but I should know soon. :-)

In the home and as a father/husband/leader, I am constantly shaping/re-shaping my goals. I must. To grow stagnant in my crucial role swings the door open to the enemy. Whether you believe or don't believe in spiritual warfare, join me for a run sometime and I'll tell you stories that'll make your hair stand on end. The enemy is real and waits for an opening. Like in war, to take out the leader is a goal in order to ensure defeat. When I was in Afghanistan and General Petreaus would visit my compound, you should've seen the guns and armored vehicles surrounding him. No chances taken. The same goes for me and my role as a protector/leader. I must stay vigilant, keep striving to be better, and not grow complacent. Goals such as praying more with my kids, playing games at night, deep/thought-provoking conversation with them about their days, quiet times of great communication with my wife...all goals and ones ever-changing to keep me sharp.

For running, I have grown into an area where I do want to say "Ahhh...I'm just happy running!!!" Honestly, what I have said most recently is this: I just want to stay in the kind of shape where I can wake up on any given day without warning and walk out my front door and run a 50K or marathon. That's it! Well, I've found that this is a worthy goal but a bit generic and un-defined. I have found that I need actual events on the calendar...not many...but something that keeps me accountable and an essential "prize" on the horizon. I guess that's why I just "had" to sign up for that mountain 40-miler last week. :-) (this year's calendar, so far, is on the right)

So set some goals. Set them today! Once you do, don't keep them to yourself. Tell others about them and ask them to keep you accountable. I love the image below...it shows that it's not only you that can help you achieve your goals. Others can help by joining in, encouraging you, and sometimes by setting the same goal themselves and thereby encouraging both of you. It's contagious...and guess what, people are watching! So set some goals, write them down, and get on living! Perhaps another day I'll share some short and long-term ones of my own. I have some work to do in that area so maybe sharing will help better define them for me. For now, it's time to run. Another day beckons.
Run Happy, friends!

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