Meet Rod and Todd, Rod and Todd are brothers in there mid 30’s. They have a mutual friend named Bart. Bart has talked them both into running a marathon 8 months from now (who needs friends like that). The brothers are both out of shape, neither has ever run any kind of race, let alone a marathon, and they don’t jog or exercise regularly. Rod and Todd would have liked to train together but their schedules won’t permit it.
Since these guys are pretty good at setting and achieving goals, they both realize they need a plan. Rod thinks about his goal of running a marathon, he wants to set a SMART goal and so he sets a goal to “Run and finish the 2010 Springfield Marathon”. While Rod is thinking about how he is going to train he remembers that in Junior High he once ran a mile in something like 6:20. He figures that was awhile ago so he better pad it a little – so he decides to train at a 7 minute mile pace (a fast pace, but still extremely slow compared to Olympic runners). He finds a great website for marathon training, plugs in the 7 minute mile pace and prints out a training schedule to follow. He looks at the schedule and decides that for him to able to achieve his goal he needs to develop a habit of running, so he decides on a habit of ”running 30 miles a week, at the 7 minute pace”.
His brother Todd also remembers the mile run in Junior High, but he also remembers that their regular gym coach was out sick and that they had a sub named Willie (he was a ground’s keeper or something).
He also remembered that Willie wasn’t too bright and instead of having them run 4 laps around the track for a mile, he only made them run 3. Todd sets the exact same goal to “Run and finish the 2010 Springfield Marathon”. But here is where Todd is a little smarter than Rod. Todd knows that he needs a specific goal, and he also knows that if he wants to achieve this goal, he must develop some habits. However, Todd knows that habits should be general and not too specific because they may need to evolve and change over time so that the goal can be achieved. Todd decides his habit will be to “run at least 5 days a week”. He doesn’t say how far he has to run, he doesn’t say how fast he has to run, he doesn’t even say which days he needs to run. He knows he just needs to get in the habit of running.
Now let’s jump ahead to the first day of training. Both Rod and Todd go out hard on the first day. In fact (like most people) they are excited about their new goal and they are a little over-enthusiastic. They both run around 3 miles at a very fast past. They both get home drenched in sweat, they are breathing like every breath might be their last, and they actually end up losing their lunch right before crashing on the couch for the rest of the day (a few of us have been there and done that).
Now Rod wakes up the next day, and for some reason every muscle in his body has decided that it’s on strike, any movement will result in excruciating pain. No running for Rod today, maybe tomorrow. The next day Rod feels a little better but not much. He looks at his habit of running 30 miles a week at a 7 minute mile pace. He barely ran 3 miles at that pace 2 days ago, and he missed yesterday. He tries to go running and can’t even run the first mile under 7 minutes because he is too sore. He walks home frustrated and dejected. He gets home and rips up his training schedule and decides he is done with the marathon. He didn’t even make it through a week and he has already quit. Sounds depressing huh? Except this is an all too common occurrence for many people.
Todd also can’t run the day after, and feels sore the day after that as well. He looks at his habit of running 5 times a week and just tells himself to at least just go out and run. He only runs for a little while, not even sure how far and comes home. He realizes that he will need to run a little slower in the future, but he his happy that he will be able to still get his 5 runs in this week. Long story short, Todd sticks to his habit, runs and finishes the marathon, and achieves his goal!
This is an extremely common scenario that we all encounter in life. Remember its ok to set big goals, in fact we need to set big goals! The problem is the small steps or habits that we do to achieve those goals:
- we make them too hard
- we make them too specific
- we get discouraged and quit
Don’t set yourself up for failure before you have even started your goal. Focus on creating general habits that can and will be accomplished.
What do you think? Agree or disagree, comment and let me know.