Several years ago, I set a goal to complete a 200 mile bicycle road race. At the time I set the goal, I hadn’t even cycled more than 100 miles in a month, but I said to myself, “Yeah, I think I could do that.” I tentatively set the goal to complete this monster event in the summer of my fiftieth year.
That’s this summer!
Now, in the back of my mind, I had been thinking about this for a long time. I have been training somewhat consistently for several years now. I am probably more fit today than I was 20 years ago. But still this monster goal seemed undoable.
But I had committed to it, right? So I started to get ready. I’m well on my way, and while there are likely going to be more posts about this event, I thought I would take a few moments to share a few insights I have had at the beginning of the process.
1 – I prioritize my time better. When I have a goal in mind, I will always find ways to work it into my daily life. The bigger the goal, the more effort and time it will take, and the more I have to be thoughtful about making time in my life to accomplish it.
2 – The goal is a puzzle to solve. When I start looking at the goal like this one, I start setting smaller goals, training objectives, and schedules. In this way, I am forced to get intentional about planning and preparing, and not just the obvious factors of training. There are logistics to be handled and planned for, travel and time off to be arranged, and all kinds of various events to be planned around. Solving puzzles like these can help keep the brain active, which is immensely valuable, especially as we age.
3 – It helps me clarify the other important things in my life. When I started thinking about all of the training that I would have to do for the event, I started to realize how much of a toll this event would take on my family and other activities as well. I have to be honest, I wanted to accomplish the goal of competing in the event, but I didn’t want to put my family on hold completely for 4-6 months. Clarifying that, I inquired with my family and some friends and found a relay option for the event. Doing it this way, I can accomplish the big goal, but I got a chance to remind myself of how important the other facets are in my life, and that I needed to find a way to balance them all.
4 – I had to be public. Small goals require small commitment and small efforts. As a result, we could complete them and sometimes no one else even knows we did anything. With this goal, especially when I decided to pursue the relay option, I had to put myself out there and try to form a team. That meant telling people, lots of people, in the hopes of finding three others who would be willing to join me. I found them, and now we are all committed in very public ways to people around us.
5 – I have something to look forward to. I remember reading an article some time ago, about the effect on people’s moods when they look forward to a vacation. Everything is handled better, life seems less depressing, and generally people are more optimistic about the difficulties they face when there is something that they are looking forward to. I am finding that the same thing is true with this bike event in my life. Having this thing to look forward to, and all of the little milestones along the way, has helped me discover new energy and enthusiasm that had been waning a bit over the last several months.
Of course, now the real work starts. We are just under four months from the big day, and I have quite a bit of training to do to make sure I am event ready. But that is a post for another day.
If you are feeling like you don’t have the energy or enthusiasm in your life that you wish you had, I suggest you find a goal that (in your opinion) scares you a little bit. Go out on a limb, commit yourself to it, be public, and see if the act of working toward something doesn’t bring you a measure of rejunivation!
Go forth and conquer!