The Intent of Goals

running
  1. Blogging for Benjamin Competition
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  19. The Intent of Goals
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  27. Choose Stripe For a Payment Gateway
  28. A Dip Into Entrepreneurship
  29. Reward Yourself
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I'm a big fan of goals. I think they can motivate you to do more than you would normally be able to do. But they can also be detrimental if you hang all of your hope on achieving something and “failing” to achieve it. This is the real downside with goals when we confuse the achievement of the goal with the intent of the goal.

Running A Marathon

One of the items on my bucket list is to run a marathon. Now here's the thing you have to know about running a marathon. They're hard – really hard. You're running 26 miles. Twenty six. And the guy who ran the original 26 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to deliver a messageĀ died immediately after completing the run.

It takes months and months of training. And at the peak of your training you're running 40-50 miles a week. So when you commit yourself to running a marathon and you don't think you can finish you tend to push yourself. That's actually what happened to me.

The first time I tried to run a marathon I didn't do quite enough training and right around mile 17.5 I hit the wall. I'd been running for 3+ hours and walking for the majority of the last hour. A friendly first aid station lady must have thought I looked particularly ragged and asked me if I wanted to stop.

Identifying the Intent of the Goal

When the lady from the first aid station asked me to stop I didn't actually know what to do. In my conflicted state I continued walking another 1/2 mile before turning around. I think that's the important part right there. I didn't concede defeat, I didn't give up, I didn't lose, I chose to turn around. I successfully ran a 17.5 mile race.

The goal of running is to get better at running, get in shape, be healthier, get lost in your thoughts, spend some time alone, or any number of things. Running a marathon it self is nothing more than a badge. So when I weighed the choices of being miserable for the next 2-3 hours walking the rest of the way and quite possibly injuring myself versus finishing the race early I think I made the right choice.

In fact, I know I did. The next year I knew how much training I had to do and I did it. I ran multiple 5K, 10K, & 15K events as well as three 1/2 marathons. When I ran the marathon I didn't even take a walking break once before hitting mile 17.5. Reminding myself that the superficial badge of running a marathon isn't important allowed me to go home that first year and be safe enough to train through out the whole next year.

Create Your Own Goals

You might not think that running a marathon and writing software are that related but they are. For everything you do you should create goals and not just the superficial ones.

Forget these:

  • Add more features than competitor
  • We need to use new technology X
  • We have to obfuscate our plugin names so the client doesn't know how we built the site

Do these:

  • Create value for your customers
  • Make things as compatible and portable as possible
  • Help your client in any way you can (even if it points them to someone else who's better suited)
  • Be honest

These are the things that matter at the end of the day. And when you go to bed at the end of the night you can actually go to bed with a clean conscience.

Photo Credit: Ulf Bodin via Compfight cc

3 thoughts on “The Intent of Goals

  1. You’ll be sainted before you are finished! I wonder if some people are born to strive or born to give in.

  2. Goals are a wonderful thing. šŸ™‚

  3. if you turned around, then you actually did a 35 mile marathon. the success for most people is just showing up. i believe we need to have more achievable goals.

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