When I actually get up at 6 a.m. to run, and I really do run instead of going back to sleep, it means only one thing: I’ve registered for a marathon or an Ironman. In this case, the Kauai Marathon on Sept. 1.
When I’ve committed to an event, such as a marathon, my commitment to training turns serious. It’s then I run daily, mix in some cross-training, eliminate junk food (well, some junk food), cut back on beer and try to get more sleep.
While this is going to be a painful marathon, especially in the latter stages because I haven’t done the long runs or any speed work, I’m looking forward to this race. I believe I’m rounding into solid shape for the 26.2-mile race and plan a big celebration upon finishing, assuming I can still stand.
My training turned far more serious once I signed up the race. If I hadn’t, there’s no way would I be up by 6 to run. There’s no way would I give up Snickers bars. When there’s not race on my agenda, I start to pack on the poundage. I get lazy and happily settle for a night of watching TV and checking Facebook when I get home from work.
But when I set a goal and make a plan, I’m more focused and more intentional about how I spend my days. It’s not that way just with exercise. It’s that way with anything. I’ve long had this plan for a devotional book on running, but because I’ve never committed to finishing it, I’ve never really even started. And, suddenly, years have passed with no progress, because I never set a firm goal. I just kind of worked on it now and then.
Which brings me to the point.
If you want to do something, set a goal. Commit. Plan. It takes discipline, sure, and that discipline seems to come out when we decide, in our minds, that we must use it.
Many of the top triathletes I know are always, always signed up for races. It keeps them motivated, it keeps them sharp and makes them better.
According to the website, personal excellence, there are six reasons why you should set goals.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll give you the scaled-down version.
1. It gives clarity on your end vision: Setting your goals gives you clarity on what you ultimately want. It makes you crystallize and articulate the desires floating in your mind. It ensures that you are channeling your time, energy and efforts into things that really matter to you. It makes you live more consciously.
2. It drives you forward: Your goals are a representation of your inner desires; desires which motivate you in life. The point when you set goals marks the point when you are most connected with your source of motivation. It is when your motivation is at its peak.
3. It gives you laser focus: Goals give you a single focal point to place your attention in, whereas your purpose gives you a broad, directional focus to move your life in. Goals give you laser focus on what exactly to spend your time and energy on.
4. It makes you accountable: Rather than just talking about what you want all the time and not do anything concrete about it, you are now obligated to take action. Setting a specific goal gives you clarity on whether you are living up to what you committed yourself to do when you first set your goal.
5. It helps you be the best you can be: Goals help you achieve your highest potential. Without goals, you subject yourself to the natural, default set of actions that keep you feeling safe and comfortable every day.
6. It lets you live your best life: Firstly, by becoming a better person, your new found knowledge and abilities that let you experience more out of the same life events than you previously did. Secondly, time passes in our life, whether we want it to or not. Goals with specific measures and deadlines ensure we are maximizing our output and experiences during our time here.
My next goal after the Kauai Marathon, by the way, involves setting a date and running the Kalalau trail, one end to the other, 22 miles total, in one day. People tell me it’s too dangerous. They say I can’t do this in one day and I’d be foolish to try.
Well, to this I can only say, no one said goal-setting would make me smart.
• Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.