Why I don't set goals any more...
Every year on my birthday I had a tradition: I would sit with a new, crisp journal and some colorful pens and start making a list of all the goals I wanted to achieve in the following year. My birthday was like my new year's so instead of resolving, I was goal digging. And because I am a Virgo, there's nothing I loved more than brand new school supplies and being an overachiever.
Like clock work, each day on my birthday I would make this list. The items on the list ranged from starting a yoga practice to reading a new book every month to getting a new job. Most of the times I would be energetic and begin to achieve some of these goals in the first 6 months, but then analysis paralysis would set in or I would quickly avoid with the next shiny object in my life.
In 2010 I found myself feeling unsettled and unsure of what I was doing with my life. I had just graduated from a master's program the year before and some doubt began to settle in about whether or not I chose the right career path. When my birthday rolled around, I decided to finally put a goal on the list that I had been dreaming about for most of my young life: I was going to run a full marathon.
And in true Virgo style, I wasn't going to just run any marathon, I was going to run the New York City Marathon. I was always one of those gals who ran but wouldn't dare call herself a runner in fear of people saying, "who you? no way lady!". But in fairness, I had ran my fair share of 10k and half marathons and although I was scared shitless to go all the way, I felt like this is what I had to do to prove to myself that I could prove everyone wrong and more importantly, I could prove myself wrong. Because 26.2 miles in the greatest city in the world is definitely how you prove to yourself that you are totally fine with all the looming life choices you made even though you feel really uncertain, right??
As I dragged myself out of bed every Sunday to do my long distance runs, I was met what felt like each week rain pouring from the heavens. I would run straight down a long road near my house until I met the desired distance and then turn around and run back. I didn't train with music because I knew it was going to be a mind game as I crept up in miles...and knowing my mind, I would totally shame myself out of this one. During this training period leading up to the NYC Marathon, I read a few books related to running because as a Virgo, I needed all the info. In one article, I read that if I smiled while I was running, I would trick my brain into thinking I was happy and having fun.
Perfect! So off I went on my 10, 15 and 20 mile runs down a rain soaked street with a big hearty smile on my face. It was the true definition of 'fake it till ya make it". But even though I looked super happy (and probably a little delirious) to the folks who passed me by, I started to ask myself: am I really enjoying this? I pressed on because, I got this far and I was not going to quit, but that question was always following me with every step.
As I geared up for my big trip, I had my family and friends each send me a song that I could use to create my marathon playlist (best idea ever BTW). I headed to NYC and was greeted by my amazing family who supported and helped me raise all the money I needed to run this race. I chose a nonprofit near and dear to my heart-Broadway Impact that was at the time fighting for marriage equality in the US (we won, yay!). My family sent me cards and messages and even bought a giant red pepper balloon so I could find them along the course.
When race day finally came, my cousin helped me get to the ferry and off I went with thousands of other runners to the start of my six borough run. I was really nervous but I also felt an incredible energy in the air as Frank Sinatra played on repeat. I did it. I was here. I am running a marathon! I told myself I would walk every bridge (because short legs) and that I was just doing this for fun (remember to smile I said to myself).
And you know what, I did have fun. Minus the small wall I hit on mile 24, I ran the streets of New York with a big smile on my face as the crowd (the streets are full like the Macy's Day Parade) cheered me on and gave me high gives. I danced with the Jamaican band in Queens and gave high fives to everyone along 5th avenue. I am actually doing this!
When I finally reached Central Park to cross the finish line, I was tired but really proud of myself for actually achieving a goal I never thought I could achieve. Tears rolled down my face as I literally leaped across the finish line and then someone caught me in a silver blanket as I made my way to find my family.
I did it!! I ran 26.2 miles and I didn't die. I officially achieved a life long goal.
As I headed back home to Cleveland and went about my life, the high of the run began to dwindle. I achieved this huge goal and I was proud of myself for what I accomplished but I didn't feel any different when it came to this unsettledness in my life. What the hell???
When the following year rolled around and it was time to do my annual birthday goal list, I decided to chuck the journal. A few months prior I had found a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. This book was a total game changer for me. I realized every year I was so focused on the goal, I had totally lost sight of how I wanted to feel. The Desire Map helped me get clear on how I want to feel in my life and then create goals that helped cultivate those feelings.
Holy Wow. When I looked back at my big marathon goal, how did I want to feel? I was so focused on proving people and myself wrong, that this short stocky non-runner could actually achieve this momentous feat. I chose this goal for all the wrong reasons. I was chasing 26.2 of fear. I lost sight of the reality that I really wanted to run the marathon to feel strong, healthy and confident.
After that book, I ditched my yearly goal list and started a new tradition of getting grounded in my core desire feelings. I began creating goals with soul and found a new sense of joy in my life. I was living soul connected.
As a Soul Coach, I help women get clear on how they want to FEEL in order to start creating inspired action to get them to where they want to be. We challenge the fears and help unravel what is needed to come undone in order to awaken that authentic power within. So if you're goal is to run a marathon, that is awesome! But I am going to ask you WHY. I want to dig deep and have you come alive to the reasons why you want to do what you do and see what we can uncover. Chances are, it is about more than a race.
If you are curious about this new lens on goal setting, let's connect. You can hear from soul sisters here on how this type of goal setting transformed their lives. This month I am offering a special discount on ALL my coaching packages until September 13th. Why don't you join me this year during my birthday month in getting clear on how you want to feel and start taking steps forward in bringing about that feeling into every corner of your life.