I had one word for 2017, ENDURANCE, along with one measurable goal. Run ten miles every week. And I did it. I finished. It’s an incredible feeling.
I ran in the cold, with a cold, and up in the mountains cold. I ran in the early mornings and later in the day. I ran through my neighborhood in San Jose, in the Santa Cruz mountains, and over the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston. I ran with music and in silence. I ran on a treadmill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, around the coliseum in Rome, and along the streets of Athens. I ran when I felt like it and when it hurt a little. I ran in the winter rains of northern California and in the summer heat of southern Greece. I ran fast miles and slow miles. No matter the weather, location, or my condition, I ran at least ten miles every week in 2017.
That is kinda crazy! For me, at least. Running isn’t my life, but it keeps me healthy, and I enjoy it.
2017 was a lot of things, but healthy may be the word that defines it best for me. My physical health is often a reflection of my emotional, mental, and spiritual health. When I’m doing well physically, more often than not, I’m doing well in every other area of my life too, and this year proved just that. Looking back over this year, this has been one of the healthiest years I’ve ever had.
This kind of physical goal wasn’t a one-time goal (like finish a half-marathon in 2015), nor was it schedule-based (run every mon/wed/fri). I’m a rebel by nature and need some room for flexibility- for me that’s a crucial component to goal setting. Having a ten-mile minimum was more than I could run in one day (regularly), but small enough that it didn’t overtake my life (like race training does). I could spread it across four days or knock it out in two if needed.
This kind of goal also meant that I couldn’t run next weeks miles this week. I was competing against time, and time is a fickle thing. I had no idea what next week would be like, how I would feel, if a kid was sick, or what other wrenches would be thrown in to my week. That uncertainty kept me focused and humble. If last week came fast and easy, this week loomed in the distance. If this week felt awful, I hoped next week might be better.
The last two months were by far the hardest of the year physically. I blamed it on the cold temps as new aches and pains forced me to slow my pace. It felt discouraging, but already having ten months behind me kept me going and I didn’t dare think of quitting.
I’ve learned so much through this goal. Now that I can reflect on it, I can see how much of what I learned can be applied to other areas of life. Don’t worry, I don’t consider myself an expert in goal setting now, but experience is a great teacher. And each week, those ten miles had a lesson ready and waiting just for me.
Today, I’m starting with the most important part of any goal. Wanting it bad enough.
What is it you want?
We make goals because we want to look better, get better, or be better. But do we really want to change? Your goal may sound good on paper, or when talking amongst friends and colleagues, but if you don’t really want it bad enough, you probably won’t reach it. To accomplish our goals, the pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of change.
Truth be told, the previous year I had the exact same goal as 2017. And do you know how many weeks I hit it? ONE. One perfect January week in 2016 I ran ten miles. I ran sporadically throughout the rest of the year, but only when the stars aligned and I felt like it, or my calendar granted me permission.
Looking back, I think my inability to hit my goal in 2016 played a key role in hitting my goal every week in 2017. I was mad about it. I realized how much I really wanted it after failing so bad. The desire to be able to run consistently compelled me to do whatever it took to reach my goal.
So let me ask you.
What do you want? What do you really, really want?
Psalm 20:4 says, “May He grant the dreams of your heart and see your plans through to the end.” While I don’t believe God will give us something that dishonors Him, I do believe He has much more for us then we can comprehend. I also think that God is waiting on us more than we’re waiting on Him. His patience with us is truly remarkable.
If God came and asked you what you want today, what would you say?
So often we make goals of things we SHOULD do, but unless the things we should do become the things we want to do, we’re unlikely to reach them.
Whether you want to give more, or eat less fast food. Whether you want to start a blog or launch a business. Whether you want to read the entire Bible this year or run a thousand miles, make your goal based on something YOU want. No one else can tell you what you want. You have to decide.
When your goal is something you really want, you’re halfway there. When we want something bad enough we stop making excuses about why we can’t and start finding opportunities about how we can.
Recently, someone I look up to shared an idea from a book she read (and I completely forget the author’s name and feel bad about it). The quote has stayed with me for more than two months now. The author said, “The answer to how is yes.” I love that! Whenever I’m uncertain or unsure what step to take, I think of that line, and it sure has a way of getting me to move.
Spend this week identifying and defining a goal for yourself. On January 1st, it’s tempting to believe you can change or improve on several areas, but I encourage you to pick one and keep it front and center for the whole year. Choose a word, define a goal, and step into 2018 with confidence.
Happy New Year Friend!