I sat in a meeting recently where someone was talking out a shortcoming that they had had, and how they had been beating themself up over it when another colleague in the room stated something to the tune of, “you can’t learn from your failure if you’re busy beating yourself up from it”. I instantly felt like a lightbulb had gone off and muttered out loud to no one in particular “that would make a great blog post.”
My social media newsfeed is constantly filled with running related efforts with a few sprinkles of non-running related things (because I basically only follow runners 😂), and there are many people I follow who I admire not because of their constant success, but because of their abilities to strategically analyze what went wrong when they failed so they can learn from it for next time. I always aspire to do that too, though I’m not as skilled as some others are quite yet at it.
I have never beat myself up for missing a target in my running goals. I have, however, always analyzed what was a success and what went wrong because I constantly want to learn from myself. I have learned through many years of analyzing my half marathon PR attempt crash and burns things like if I don’t take in electrolytes before mile 10 I’m going to have a bad race, that I have to be very conscious of the humidity of whatever race I’m doing and plan for my socks and feet swelling accordingly, that there is a certain length of shorts and capris that are acceptable for running and anything shorter or longer will sabotage me, and that I’m notorious for going out too fast and regretting it.
Do you know why I know these things? Because I have taken my failures as opportunity to learn so I can succeed the next time.
If I spent the amount of time being cruel to myself that I now spend really analyzing my successes and my shortcomings every time I miss my target, I would be miserable! I have failed constantly- some times more than others, and in much larger ways than other times. I also have learned that because I am not beating myself up over my failure, I find myself more willing to put myself out there for bigger, scarier and other goals that don’t feel attainable because I know I can take every opportunity as a time to learn, whether success is at the end of the goal or not.
I hope you aren’t spending too much time beating yourself up over shortcomings. You’re awesome and deserve to celebrate as such.
Hi! How are you? First blog post on my webpage for 2020 and it seems appropriate to be about my favorite topic… goals!
I’ve had the same running goal for three and a half years. PR my half marathon time. My PR half marathon was set at the Run Wine Country Windsor Half in May 2016. I ran so fast that my friends who ran the 10k were going to wait for me at the finish line, but I came in 11 minutes faster than I expected to and they were at post race food thinking I would still be running for a bit! Though I began working with a running coach shortly after that race, I also have gained some weight with no huge focus to lose it, and focused my energy on the marathon and my first ultramarathon distance in recent years. But this post isn’t about that, just some relevant background for you.
I’ve thought for many years about WHAT my goals are…. PRing my half, losing weight, learning the entire Napoleon Dynamite Canned Heat dance… but I’ve never really thought about why those were my goals. A little lightbulb went off on New Years Day when I was out on a trail run and listening to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and I thought, “I know what my goals are, but why are they my goals?”
I have said for a countless number of years that I wanted to PR my half time but I’ve never thought about why. Why would I want such a goal? In reality, it’s an arbitrary number on a clock. I’m not an elite athlete, a goal like that comes with no cash prize or podium finish for my speed. So why do I want it? For the bragging rights? To say I got it done? So my Athlinks profile finally has a change? What’s the real reason?
Let’s use the example of someone trying to quit smoking. Let’s say they say their goal is I want to quit smoking. Great! So they quit cold turkey from that day forward. But without a why of having that goal, what do they lean on when a loved one goes into the hospital and the urge to light up because they’re stressed? What about when they’ve had a drink or two and have newly quit and the smell of someone lighting up at the bar wafts their way and a craving hits? Or what about when they’re cleaning a cabinet and find one last lonely package of cigarettes and they’re struggling to want to throw it away. If they know what their goal is, it’s easy to stay true to it during the times with no struggle or distraction. But if they know why that’s the goal, they have something to lean into when the goal becomes hazy with distraction. If this same person knew their why for quitting smoking was that their friend was diagnosed with lung cancer and they don’t want the same fate, or that their sister is having a baby and they want to quit smoking so they can be around the baby when it comes, or whatever that why may be, it is easier to stay true when it seems hard to.
I have my goals for 2020 and some I know the why, and some I’m still coming to fully understand. But if you’ve set any goals, have you come up with your why?