When the run turned ugly, my thoughts turned to thinking about my goals.
What exactly did I want to accomplish? I really had not thought about true target times and my coach didn’t give me any specifics on pacing in large part because the Musselman 70.3 would be hot. Very hot. Add to that the fact I became extremely emotional for the first four miles (check out my column on GOTRIbal.com for the details on that) and any big-picture goal time was going to be difficult to obtain even if I had one.
Instead, part of my mental preparation had been to think about what I wanted from this race. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to celebrate the weeks of hard work. I wanted to cross the finish line and enjoy the support I had received from so many people in so many areas of my life.
I had goals for each segment. On the swim, the plan was to swim smoothly, to find a rhythm, to be just be confident. The bike was to bring a good work on my cadence, to push in the flats and rollers and spin up the climbs and really be smart about my gearing. On the run, the idea was to keep moving forward, to find a nice, easy turnover rate and to think about my form.
Check on all three.
Win-win-win for me. It didn’t even matter what the final time on the clock said.
And so comes another experience of learning that goal setting based on outcomes isn’t necessarily all its cracked up to be. Because, in fact, goals can sometimes be distracting.
Seriously. I’m kinda anti-goal these days. It’s the semantics around “goals” which tends to get me all messed up. Often, we equate goals with outcomes. And that, in my humble experience, can be an equation for disaster.
So instead I’ve looked for a balance between selling myself short and setting myself up for disappointment.
Big-picture goals, outcomes if you will, are great to have. Granted, not all who wander are lost, but there’s nothing wrong with having an end destination in mind. However, if we’re tunneled vision on that one destination, we miss the nuances along the way. We fall apart when our chosen route is no longer a viable option. The outcome we so desired, our “goal” seams hopeless, unattainable and we abandon it along with feelings of failure. That seems counterproductive to whole purpose of goal setting.
I still have outcome goals — goals with very specific definitions of achievement and a measurement of success. I enjoy the challenge. I like the big-picture view.
But I also have vague, less defined goals which pull me in directions without a clear picture of what the end result will be. These are goals with a more qualitative feel, ones which can’t really be measured all that accurately. These are the goals that really call me forward. They usually lead to an incredible destination — one that I would have missed since I never knew it existed. And sometimes those places lead to even better outcome than the one I originally planned.
There’s room for both goals and outcomes in my master plan.
The key is not to define myself by them, not to be a slave to them but rather to use them at tools for living and creating one fantastic and fun journey.