Goals bring out the best in us

I have different degrees of discipline when it comes to training.

There are days it’s carefree and casual. No big deal if I miss a few sessions and do nothing.

Then, there are days it’s serious and structured. The miles are measured. What the GPS watch says about distance and time and pace during and after each run is everything.

The difference?

Having a goal.

And that goal is usually a race on Kauai or Oahu. The bigger the race, the more it matters.

Here at home, my motivation to get in shape is sharper the closer it comes to runs like the Kauai Marathon, the Haena to Hanalei eight miler, the Koloa Plantation Days 10 miler, and the Old Koloa Sugar Mill half marathon.

I want to be at my best for these races for a few reasons. One, to try and run the same time or faster than the year before so it feels like I’m not getting older. Two, win another medal or ribbon just because I like them and they call my name at the awards ceremony; and three, beat my buddy Jimmy McDougall, which only happens when he’s not in race shape and I am. But every few years, it happens.

My training became much more serious as of Sunday, when I registered for the Hapalua Half Marathon on Oahu. I don’t want to go that far and invest that much time to run a lousy race. So I suddenly became dedicated to my prerun morning workouts. I am rising early to wave weights and pound pushups. I just became more motivated to run farther and faster during training runs on Ke Ala Hele Makalae. I am now determined to include hills when and where I can. I am even willing to endure some pain. I might even give up late-night snacks.

I realize I only have a little more than four weeks to whip myself into good shape. I got out of shape because, despite my mantra that I never get sick, I got sick last month and it zapped my energy for a few weeks. I’m just now feeling fully recovered and have resolved to challenge myself.

So, nothing like registering for a half marathon a plane ride away to officially go into comeback mode.

Goals change everything. They change my focus. They change my outlook. They change the way I spend my time. They change my attitude. I get things done when I have a goal.

Without goals, without a race I’m registered for, I tend to wander and waste time. There is no sense of urgency, no sense of a deadline to meet. It’s more like drifting about, waiting to see which way the tide takes me. It is, as they say, like being a ship without a sail.

We can set goals too low. We can set goals too high. But the point is, we set goals and give it our best to reach them. That is what counts.

My successes and joys have come from trying to achieve goals. My failures and disappointments, from not setting any. It’s far too easy to let the days pass without having a single goal to guide our actions. Goals take discipline. They make us better because they force us to exam who we are, where we stand, and raise our game to get where we’re headed.

Some pretty smart people have addressed goals and the need for them. Here is what they had to say:

• “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Zig Ziglar

• “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” — Earl Nightingale

• “Goals transform a random walk into a chase.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

• Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.” — Denis Waitley

And this is my favorite:

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” — Les Brown

So, for now, I’m all about running the Hapulua Half Marathon as fast as I can next month. That’s a simple goal. I’m not going there to jog and enjoy the scenery. I want to run it in one hour and 40 minutes. I don’t know if I can do that. Probably not. Right now, I could not. Even next month, that is likely out of my reach. But then again, maybe not.

If I’m disciplined, if I work hard, if I stay focused, if I keep the faith, I may surprise myself.

Goals will do that.


Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island. He can be reached at bbuley@gmail.com


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