Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Goal choice can give you more than you expect

There are a million and one ways to succeed, there are undoubtedly many more ways to fail. Either way lessons are learned and we move on. The hardest part of success or failure (essentially undertaking a task), is choosing what to do in the first place. Selecting a goal is one of the more difficult things in life for many people. Many set a bunch of goals at New Years Eve, just because that's a habit in some societies. The choices of those goals and goals set throughout the year are often deferred, they are not wholly driven from within.

"I will lose 20lbs", "I will quit smoking", "I will exercise more", "I will join a gym", "I will take up a new hobby"....

These kinds of goals all too often are fed by peer pressure, by perspectives based around the media, and are things our societies say we 'should' do. Real goals, and often ironically those most likely to succeed, are those we derive from within ourselves. The ones that bubble up, that 'come out of no where', the ones we wake up one morning and just do. How often do you hear someone say, "I tried that for many years, then one day I just kind of did it and I've been doing it ever since". The goal may have been attempted many different ways until then until a different angle / impetus materialised from within themselves.

Choosing a goal though however we make it happen is just plain difficult. Lives are built around frameworks that mean we can't all simply decide to get up, train for a period, and then go climb Mount Everest. Negotiation and planning sit behind the choice of most goals, even in choosing to get out and run a 10k road race. Whether we need to fit around work, family, or social commitments we need to choose goals with a degree of balance.

By this point you might believe I am about to imply that these 'pressures' on goal choice are negative, suggest that we'd all feel better if we could do whatever we want whenever we want. Ah no, I am not going that way, I feel that goals built to fit around life commitments are often the most satisfying at completion (whether in fact they fail or succeed). Why? Well, for the reason that the negotiation, the planning and the investigating gives the goal that extra something (that extra cache, relevance, or importance).

When we've chosen our goals wisely we have made that choice taking into account the full meaning of it. Not simply because it's that time of year, because that celebrity does it, or because society impressed it upon us. We had all the facts of our lives around us and set a goal choice that we genuinely own within ourselves. It is this that gives me the most satisfaction at the end of a half-marathon, that I juggled things around training, that I found ways to get fitter, that I found new advice, that I found more things that worked when I ran 2-3-4+ times a week, that I found better kit, that I found better nutrition, that I discovered different preparation... the myriad of choices and negotiations made around that goal of completing a half-marathon that generate that pay-off. Choose a goal wisely, there will be more rewards than you can calculate I promise. Go on!

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