When a goal is close, but not quite

photo-188March is upon us, so it seemed like a good time to review my Q1 goals the other day. I successfully hosted the big party in my house last week (my Q1 relationships goal). Parties are a wonderful forcing mechanism. I de-cluttered much of the first floor. Indeed, I remodeled the two first floor bathrooms last fall partly with an eye to hosting parties! I completely emptied out the front coat closet so it is now usable, and I bought 48 matching wine glasses. This all makes me feel much more grown-up.

As for the professional goal, I have an idea for a book. I have written a short book proposal. We shall see what comes of that.

The personal goal, alas, is more complicated. I said I wanted to be able to get through the full 18-minute treadmill workout I clipped from Oxygen magazine last year. This workout is entirely doable except for the 2 minutes at 9.0 mph. I can do the progressive ramp-up of 2 minutes at 6.0 mph, 7.0 mph, and then 8.0 mph, but I keep tanking before the end of the final two minutes. My record is 1:30 at 9.0 mph after the ramp-up and that was unusual. More often I stop after 1:10 or 1:15. We are into March now, and I have a lot of travel coming over the next few weeks, which means that my training time will be limited. In other words, it is quite possible I will not make it through the whole workout by March 31st.

To be sure, there is something to be said for keeping one’s eye on the larger goal. The reason I am trying to make it through this workout is that I want to be faster. I am definitely faster now than I was 3 months ago. In the course of throwing myself against those final 2 minutes at 9.0 mph, I have managed to run my first 8-minute mile, run half a mile at 8.0 mph (7:30 pace), and done workouts involving 8 intervals of 1-minute at 9.0 or higher. Indeed, yesterday I did an interval workout that involved jacking that treadmill up to 10.0 mph several times. I went about 25 seconds a pop.

So there is that. It is just the 2 minutes at 9.0 mph that is bedeviling me. I think I have some sort of mental block (in addition to it being rather physically challenging). We shall see how this goes over the next few weeks. Part of me wants to just say screw it, I accept that I will never be that fast. But I suppose I will keep trying, right up until March 31.

Have you ever set a goal that you realized might not be achievable? How did you sort that out?

In other words: I am working on a piece on how to be a good friend, even when life is busy. I would love to interview some people — possibly friend pairs! — who have managed to maintain their relationships during some busy seasons of life. You can always email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.

10 thoughts on “When a goal is close, but not quite

  1. All I can say is, I need that article you’re working on! The only tip I have in that department is I try to marry friend time with walking time whenever possible–either on the phone or in person. Because then I feel I can really enjoy the conversation for as long as it lasts, as it just means I’m getting a longer walk too. It helps me find the time and feel good about the time, since walking more is another goal.

    Speaking of goals, I looked at my Q1 goals this weekend and realized they were all, in reality, Q2 goals. I believe they are all doable in Q1, but in January, I didn’t realize how long they would take when I listed them in the Q1 quadrant. This is my problem with setting goals — it all seems doable when I’m filling in the blanks, but then things take as long as they take and I am frequently switching my goals around. It can make me feel more scattered and unproductive, not less, although I do believe in the writing goals down–in part so you remember them and remember to work on them, ha! But it’s the ascribing them to specific timelines that I resist. Am I the only one?

    1. @Kate – It is possible my Q1 goal is in fact a Q2 goal. I do think it is within the realm of possibility, it just may take me longer than 3 months to achieve. The idea of making something a short-term goal is to light a fire under oneself. You’re not spending forever working on it, just 3 months! But if it takes 4-5 months, that’s not so bad.
      Of course, I suspect that come April I will refuse to run on the treadmill — so there’s that 🙂

  2. I really enjoy your posts on goals, it is helpful to see what others are working on and how they progress towards their goals. Happy Monday!

  3. I may be too easy on myself, but I consider forward motion a win…I usually just extend the time period for the goal if I am actively working on it, and its just taking longer than I expected.
    Though what I think you need is someone cheering/heckling you on through that last minute. I was able to do 30 more seconds in a plank with my friend constantly “Come on! You can do it! 10 more seconds! Don’t be a quitter!” in my ear when we did a challenge at the gym.

  4. I think your comment about keeping your eye on the larger goal is key. We make goals specific so we know when they are reached, but sometimes we forget where the underlying desire came from. You wanted to get faster, and you did! I’d call that a win. And I’m sure you will meet the exact goal at some point if you keep doing the workout.

  5. Back when I used to be heavy into running and triathlon, my training guru said that people always overestimate what they can do in three months and underestimate what they can do in three years (or something like that). I keep that in mind when I set any kind of goals!

    1. @Katie – that is very true. I went from not running to running a half marathon in less than a year. I think that really long term goals are sometimes hard to get one’s head around though. Maybe that’s why we underestimate what we can do!

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