Posts tagged goal setting
Three tales about goals. Tale One: For the love of...

My battle with goal setting came to a head this past week. It sucked and it was amazing all at the same time. Well at first it just sucked. Now that my deepest battle wounds have been tended to, I am surrounded by new found lightness and power. So I want to tell you three tales. Three tales about goals. 

The first is about a slave. The second is about a golden-haired girl and three bears. The third is about a battle won by failure.

Tale One.

For the love of...

running, motivation, app

My phone beeped. Shit! This couldn`t be happening.

I glanced at my arm band. My battery was about to die. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I was no where near my goal of 30 km. My Nike Running App had just given me my stats. I was nearing 18 km and going steady. My pace was 5 minutes 22 seconds per kilometre. A good pace. I was just past the halfway mark of what would be the longest run of my life. I was feeling great. Confident I would achieve what I set out to do.

My phone couldn't be dying with 12 km to go. How would I know when I arrived at the finish? How would I know I had completed my goal? How would I know if I was keeping a good pace? And how would I be motivated to keep up my pace for all 30 kilometres without that voice in my ear reminding me each kilometre? 

I know, I know, its just a Nike Running App. And yes I have run without it. And yes I did map out my run before I started, so I knew where I had to end up in order to get in 30 km. But for a few moments it seemed important. It actually crossed my mind that I could stop at the nearest Starbucks and see if I could borrow someone's iPhone charger for a bit before continuing on my run (crazy, I know).

My phone died. I cursed. I stopped running and stood there for a moment. I took a deep breath.

And then the hilarity of my frustration hit me. I was really caught up in it. I began to laugh at the thoughts that had been running through my mind. I couldn't believe how much power I had given away to a little talking box strapped to my arm.

I called deep on my courage. It was time for me to take it back.

I started running. I stared into the hugeness of the ocean. I felt the wind. 

I focused my thoughts inward. I focused on my legs; I felt their strength propelling me forward. I focused on my feet; how they felt as they landed on the pavement, carrying my body with each step. I focused on my heart; I felt it beating, giving me life. I focused on the space I had created; I felt it expand and spread through my body. 

I remembered my why. I remembered what I love about running. I remembered the marathon I was working towards.

I remembered choice. I remembered trees. I remembered strength. 

I ran the remaining 12 km without record or reminder. It was no longer a have to. I just ran.

For the love of running.



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Rejecting the old and rejecting the new.

rejection Last week I wrote about the realizations I’ve had about goal setting and some of the things I can incorporate more of in my life to make goals less like “have tos”. I also wrote about how it may not be my goal setting that needs fixing; that maybe it is the lens through which I view goal setting that determines my experience of it; and maybe I simply need new glasses.

I chose trees. Trees for me are that something bigger, something outside of the way I normally view the world, goals in particular. Trees are that something uncontrollable, uncertain, and incapable of being fixed.

And now I’m going to admit to you something which is hard.

This week I threw trees out the window. And the other things I wrote about last week too. I was like – way to go, you solved the problem that wasn’t really a problem, now back to the way you’ve been doing things forever because that’s much less scary than trees.

I went back to this really rigid way of viewing everything I am up to. Back to a place where there are only two options: do it all, perfectly; or don’t do it at all. And the result of this backwards experiment? I’ve spent all week trying to be superwoman at some things and quitting at others (like my event that I cancelled, for example – sorry about that). I worked a lot, I did not sleep a lot, and I arrived at the conclusion daily that there is just not enough time for all of stuff that I am up to.

Whenever I stopped for a moment I could see the irony. I was again in a space where there were so many things I “had to” do and not enough time to do them – my goals had become problems. And so I became really frustrated with myself.

I can see that I haven’t really got any more things done this week than I did last week, but the entire time I have felt way busier and under pressure. Like sleep was a luxury I could not afford without risking failure.

And now it is Thursday night and I am frustrated. I am frustrated that I did not learn my own lesson. I am frustrated that I could not be out in the world like the trees. I am frustrated for trying so hard to do so much... and yet at the same time, if I am completely honest, I am also frustrated with myself for not doing more.

I’m feeling guilty right now. I have not taken my own advice. I dipped my toe into the ocean of trees and then not knowing what exactly it would look like, how I could control it, or what the outcome would be, I decided to withdraw back to the comfort of my shaded umbrella (ahem, computer screen), instead of diving in.

I know I have been caught up once again in doing it all, and doing it all perfectly. And yet there is a part of me that does not want to let it go. I know this game. I’ve played it for a long time. And I’m pretty good at it...even if it may not be good for me.

This is me letting you in on my struggle with perfectionism and doing it all.

For all you perfectionists out there who can relate, I’m sorry, I’m not going to end this post with a miracle cure.

Instead I’m going to share with you the beginning lyrics of...The Logical Song, written and composed by Roger Hodgson:

When I was young

It seemed that life was so wonderful

A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical

And all the birds in the trees

Well they'd be singing so happily

Joyfully, playfully watching me 


But then they send me away

To teach me how to be sensible

Logical, responsible, practical

And then they showed me a world

Where I could be so dependable

Clinical, intellectual, cynical


Check out the full song here:



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The Problem With Goals

goal So here goes. I am facing a dilemma. Personal crisis. Life crisis. Literally. It’s possible the entire foundation of what I have been writing about needs rethinking.

Ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but the essence of my struggle is this: why make goals? Do goals add to my wellbeing or take from it? Is the fact that I have set goals preventing me from being content with who I am? Are my goals frustrating my ability to enjoy the moment, to be content with where I am now? Do my goals leave room for spontaneity and flexibility? Is the goal itself the very thing that zaps the fun out of the doing, that turns the things I love into have tos and shoulds?

The answer I have come up with is equally confusing: yes and no.

Yes because in fact that is the way my goals have been affecting me. And no, because if I look a little deeper I can see that it is me who chooses to define goals and doing things in a way that disempowers me.

Here’s how it started. Two weeks ago, after arguing with myself for a while about whether I had taken on too much, I actually sat down and wrote out all of the things I want to do in a week. I estimated the amount of time it takes to do each thing, added in seven hours of sleep per night, eating and self care, and I came up with something that scared me: three hours on Sunday. The only free time that I had left myself in an entire week was three hours on Sunday!

I thought about this and immediately came to the conclusion that I had taken on an unrealistic amount of things. Unexpected delays, distractions, and the occasional inefficiency or procrastination would almost certainly take up those extra three hours every week. There was no room for spontaneity. No room to relax or enjoy an unexpected activity or conversation without failing to complete everything I want to complete in a week, which would lead to getting behind and failing to achieve my goals. I decided I had set myself up to fail, and since failure is not something I like, I decided something had to change.

So last week I thought a lot about quitting. What I wanted to give up. I even wrote a blog post about quitting. I was giving myself permission to quit something that I really wanted to do without feeling guilty about it. And I do believe it is important to empower our choices and not view quitting or changing our minds as failure. But after all that rationalizing I just couldn’t bring myself to quit anything. Not anything big anyways. I wanted to do it all.

So what is a girl to do?

My motto for the year is "nothing is impossible" and I was determined that there had to be another way. I started strategizing different possibilities that could give me the freedom and flexibility for spontaneity and to enjoy the moment, but still achieve my goals. I was stumped.

Then last weekend while in Victoria, I gained some insights into another way. I was visiting one of the judges I had clerked for and we were talking about life. I shared my dilemma with her and she told me some of the stories that make up her rich and fascinating life. She also told me something else, which initially I found strange. She’s never set a goal for herself. She’s never tried to define, or set out to attain, success. This initially shocked me, as she is one of the most successful people I know.

As I let this sink in over the next few days, it came to make more and more sense. Instead of being guided by a particular predefined outcome, she was guided by a deep sense of who she was. The words groundedness, intuition, values, principle, and integrity were constantly floating around in my mind.

I immediately liked this option. It left immense room for flexibility and enjoying the moment, yet I could still be guided by those things that are important to me. I thought with all of these ingredients surely I could come up with a solution to my problem.

An alternate plan was hatched.

I began talking these ideas over with a few friends and came up with an alternate universe. In this universe I don’t have goals. I may have some short term projects that I am working on, but there is no rigidity, no have tos, shoulds, and by whens. My direction in life would instead be guided by principle, by my values, and the things that are important to me. I would simply trust that my life would take on the course it was supposed to take, and I would end up where I was supposed to end up.

I thought I had it all figured out.

I ran my alternate universe by my life coach on Thursday. After an hour of trying to convince her that I had figured out the solution to life, fielding her questions about what I was going to do with my projects in this alternate world, and listening (a little grudgingly) to her suggestion that I may want to take a look at how I define the word “goal”, I was no longer sure my solution was as simple as I had made it out to be.

Although I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea, I could see that what I was trying to do was “fix” my problem. It was an all or nothing approach to projects and goal setting. Either I have goals and rigidity and what I love turns into have tos, or I have no goals and lots of flexibility and I can enjoy the moment.

I thought a little more about my alternate universe and how it would apply to each of my projects. Did I want to just throw the goals out the window? What about the marathon, for example? It has a defined end date; a date by which my training will be complete and I will step out on the road and run 42 km. How can I eliminate the goal on that one?

I was back where I started. Or was I?

While I was not ready to let go of my goals, I also was not ready to let go of a more flexible approach to life; one where I trust myself a little more to act on what is important to me, without having a schedule that only allows me three hours of free time a week.

I don’t know what the answer is. I just wanted to share with you my thoughts as I’m right in the thick of it. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you have some insights. Maybe there is no answer at all.

To be continued I'm sure...



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