“Setting and achieving goals” is a phrase that gets used often these days. We’re told that setting goals is the best way to be reach whatever it is that we hope to achieve, and for the most part I agree. But why do so many people have a difficult time achieving their goals? There are a few different reasons, but they all stem from the same place: Your Mindset.
I believe you can successfully achieve your goals if you treat them as if you were going to run a 100 mile race.
If you were going to run a 100 mile race, you would make sure to prepare before you did it. You would make a plan for how you would train for a few months, eat healthy, and make sure you get enough rest. You would probably talk to some people that have experience in that area to learn a bit about what to expect. You wouldn’t just do it on a whim and plan on running the race the next morning. You would make sure you are prepared to take on such a task.
When undertaking a goal that is going to take you a significant amount of time, you want to prepare as well. Make a plan to achieve it. Should you do some research on what it takes to achieve this goal? Or do you need to plan your day so you can work on your goal at a certain time? Whatever your goal is, take the time to make a plan and prepare before you go after it. If you don’t have a game plan, you won’t know what to do when you come to the inevitable challenges and obstacles along the path.
Starting The Race
A 100 mile race is one that you can’t win quickly, but you can lose it quickly. If you come out sprinting and trying to win that race in the first 10 minutes, you are going to burn yourself out and want to quit before you even really get started. Don’t start the race too fast. Start slowly and build momentum as you go. You can always speed up later in the race if you’d like.
People often times quit going after their goals within the first few days or weeks. Why? Often it’s because they try to take on too much or make too many changes at one time. Most people want to achieve their goals as quickly as possible, which is great. But then what tends to happen, is that the changes in lifestyle that are made are taken to an extreme. And that leads to feeling overwhelmed and eventually quitting. Instead, start slowly. Make small changes in your lifestyle that won’ take too much willpower. Then, as those become easier, either make them more difficult or add to them in some way. This is a great way to keep from burning out right away.
Moving Through The Race
Once you’re in the race and the excitement of the beginning has worn off, you will start to face mental and physical challenges along the way. The most effective way to get past those is to just keep moving forward one step at a time. Don’t worry about the next mile, or the mile after that. Focus on the steps that you have to take right now! If you are able to stay front sighted in your focus, you won’t need to worry about how far away the end goal is, all you have to think about is that next step on the path.
When it comes to achieving goals that are long term, it is inevitable that there will be challenges to overcome, days when you feel like you want to quit and that it’s not worth it anymore. Push through those days. If you develop the ability to stay focused just on what you can do in that moment, the pressure of the obstacles and difficulty of the goal will start to feel lessened. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is a useful strategy if you feel like you want to quit. Stay focused on the now! Take one step at a time!
One way that you can make the distance to the end of the race feel a little bit less daunting is to make each water station a miniature goal. By making it to the next water station you have achieved a goal in the race, which means you have been successful. By doing that, the next water station is within a distance you know you can make, allowing you to be confident in your abilities to get there.
While trying to achieve your big goal, set mini goals or milestones that you can try to achieve along the way. This does a few things for you. One, it helps build confidence in knowing you can achieve goals. Two, you feel proud of yourself for achieving a goal. And three, you are making sure that you are staying on the right path and moving toward your final destination. By setting these mini goals you are not thinking about how far away the final goal is. What you are focusing on is just making it to the next mini goal or “water station”.
When running a long race, it’s great to have fans cheering you on. They are a good source of external motivation when the race feels like it is getting long. Is it easier to run quietly alone? Or with a crowd of people cheering you on?
Have “fans” with you on the journey to your goal. This is could be friends, family, or join a like-minded group. It’s extremely helpful to have a support group when taking on challenges that are difficult. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re trying to achieve something big and ask for their support!
Crossing The Finish Line
When crossing the line after a 100 mile race, I have to assume (since I haven’t done it) that it feels amazing! Knowing that you’ve been able to push your mind and body to complete a race that long is extremely difficult! Make sure you take stock of all the effort you put in along the way and be proud of yourself.
Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of yourself after completing a goal that is lengthy and time consuming. Don’t quit though. Now’s the time to set your sights on your next big personal challenge!