Goals Are Stupid

goals road sign

In 2012 I set a goal of becoming a marathoner.  For those who don’t know how far a marathon is…it’s 26.2 miles.

In January I failed at that goal. You can read the entire story here: Celebrating 21 Miles As the title suggests… I only made it 21 miles.  I was a failure at becoming a marathoner.  Come to think of it. I had been a failure for an entire year. At least as far as the goal was concerned. I had set a goal to be a marathoner, so until I reached that goal, I was a failure at being one.

Nevermind the fact that in the course of that year I had completed four half marathons (13.1 miles each), a 10-Miler, a 10k (6.2 miles) and numerous 5k’s (3.1 miles). As well as hundreds of multi mile training runs. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say I ran about 365 miles in 2012.  According to the goal I had set for myself…that was an epic failure.

That’s the thing about goals. If you set goals, you are a failure 99% of the time and then a success 1% of the time when you ultimately reach that goal. Or you’re just a 100% failure if your goal is never reached.  And if you do reach your goal, the euphoria is usually short lived and then you set another goal for yourself and the failure cycle continues.

To clarify, I don’t think failure is a bad thing.  Failure is where success likes to hide.  This is why public schools damage our children. They teach kids that earning an A is easy and failure is bad.  Failing is where we learn the most. It’s the label “I’m a failure” that’s stupid.

I’ve decided to adopt habits instead of goals.  Being healthy is a habit I’ve adopted.  Now I have a healthy habit of running on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a long run on the weekend. This is part of a marathon training program. The habit is a process…not a goal.  If I keep at it,  it’s likely that I will finish the marathon that I have on the books for 2014.  The pressure of achieving a goal is off.  I’ve already noticed my time getting faster and I feel healthier. If I end up completing the marathon, that will be a wonderful byproduct of my healthy habits.  And because it’s a habit, it’s not something I will abandon if I do reach “marathoner” status.

Think of some of the most successful people you know.  It’s more likely that their success is a product of consistent habits as opposed to goals.

If the end goal is all you have in mind, how can you enjoy success today?


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