Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Importance of Being Persistent

Once upon a time, I couldn't run a mile. Now I run three to six a day, depending on whether my knee is staging a sit-in.

There was a time when I couldn't do a manly push up. Now I can do five, rather pathetic ones, in a row.

Not too long ago, my plank didn't last much longer than a minute. This morning, I held my plank for three minutes.

Three minutes!

When I was in school, I took a class called C.A.P.P which stood for Career and Personal Planning. No joke. It wasn't even optional. This was a mandatory class for everyone and was sort of like the Canadian equivalent to Home Room. The whole idea of C.A.P.P was to teach students about long and short term goals. Now, I only remember one thing they tried to drill into my thick skull - the importance of goals, and goal setting. Bizarre, really, considering I don't remember anything else from high school.

Not only do goals give you something to strive for and work towards, but once you achieve them, you have something to celebrate over. And we all need to celebrate. I mean, there's usually cake at celebrations and we all know how I feel about cake.

Interestingly enough, now that I am nearing my twilight years (har-har), I realize I've been a master goal setter for years and didn't really know it.

It all started when I was seventeen. One rain soaked morning...

Actually, I don't know if was rain-soaked, but this is Vancouver and logically speaking it most likely was. Not to mention it gives a rather boring story a bit of flare...

Anyway, one rain soaked morning in February I decided to become vegan. Now, that wasn't the goal, not at all, because I did it cold turkey and really haven't looked back longingly at steaks and egg salad sandwiches. The goal was to be the best vegan I knew how to be - compassionate to the little creatures, lover of life big and small, Tyson-She-Nymph-Of-The-Land-Of-Flora-And-Fauna. (Can I get that one on a t-shirt?)

Little did I know, being vegan would be a short and long term goal. Not only do I strive to achieve this every day, but when I die I'll think back on this goal and know it was the longest one I've ever had. And probably the most rewarding. I'd go into details about why this goal has made me lighter, not just physically, but mentally and how it's led me to a path I never would have found otherwise, but this blog is about goal setting and not veganism.

All I need to say is, every day I try to show a bit of compassion to animals. Lately, I've tried to include the dastardly human animal in this. Yep, I revised my goal to incorporate mankind. Which is really bloody difficult since my misanthropy is as hot and wild as molten lava spewing forth from the mouth of a gigantic volcano. (How's that for imagery?)

But that's the point, isn't it? To set goals that are challenging, both mental and physical. To make ourselves work to feel accomplished. It's like that Destiny Child's song when they sing 'if you don't go grab it, I'm going to let you have it'. Okay, maybe it isn't exactly like that, but you get the point. Those who work will be rewarded. All it takes is for you to make up your mind and say, "I'm going to do it."

This is where I feel the need to stress the importance of creating goals that are attainable. You won't find me setting a goal to fit into a size six dress, because, first, it's simply not going to happen and, secondly, it's a waste of time and energy. I don't need to feel bad about the implausibility of meeting a goal I set for myself. I mean, come on! We have common sense for a reason, perhaps we should take it into consideration. What's the point in letting ourselves down? It's counter-productive. I'm not going to set a goal to get a husband by the end of the year, because, let's be honest, it's going to take a much longer time to dupe someone into proposing to this gal.

And I know people are laughing at that, but I see it every day. Every single day. People set goals that are so far out of their grasp that they are just setting themselves up for failure. A woman I know wants to lose seventy pounds. That's her goal. Seventy pounds. It doesn't even matter if she needs to lose seventy pounds because this is not a realistic goal.

Why, you might ask.

Because there is no motivation to get to it, except for general health and well-being, and if that mattered she probably wouldn't have packed on the seventy pounds in the first place.

To reach our goals, we need to see the celebration on the horizon. We need to know party hats and noise makers are in our future. We need the feeling of accomplishment. We need to know what it feels like to succeed so we can set another goal and know how good it feels to get there. There's nothing better than sitting back, putting your feet up and knowing you've done something you never thought you'd be able to do.

And this is where short term and long term goals come into play.

Right here, right now, I will say it, put your eggs in the short term basket. Without short term goals you'll never reach your long term ones.

You want to lose seventy pounds, well start with ten. Because ten is doable. Ten doesn't slap you in the face and taunt you every time you get on the scale. And, when you get those ten off, celebrate - not with a whole cheesecake  - and then start on the next ten.

When I started running, I couldn't go a single mile. No, really. A kilometre was torture. But, once I got to a mile, I set another goal for two. And then three. Then...I think you got the point. And it works for everything in life. When I started writing a book, I started with chapter one and then two. When I began planking, I started at a minute. Day by day, week by week, we work our way up to our ultimate goals by hurdling our little ones.

So, yes, right now, I'm working a nine to five job (five to two, technically), living in the city, writing as a hobby and dreaming big. But one day, with a little goal setting, I might be working my own hours in a modest house in the woods, writing for money and living my dream. Until then, I'll keep setting these little goals and celebrating when I accomplish them.

Like the fact that I planked for three minutes this morning.


Mockingbird said...

Without something to strive for, life becomes humdrum and dull (and incredibly repetitive)!! I have always had goals, even though I am in my late forties, my ambition is unlimited.

Morgan said...

I love the way you write, Tyson---entertaining, great message, thought provoking...

And inspiring. It *is* crazy how you can grow just by doing the little things each day--And girl, you've got me jealous with your running & your planking! Niiiiiice work :D

Tyson said...

Thank you Morgan and Mockingbird. :D

And Morgan - I plank every morning and it is mind over matter. :D Just do a bit every day and you'll get there. ;)

Exmoorjane said...

Note to self: back to planking practice. I used to be able to do nearly five but have slunk back to two. :( And I am SUCH a competitive beast.

You're right, of course - set the big goal by all means but then take baby steps to get there...It's the old question of how do you eat an elephant (a vegan one of course)? You eat a little each and every day. :)

I wanna run. It's my new challenge. I figure if I can high impact dance for two hours solid, I can surely run FFS??? Mind over mutter.

sito saguid said...

thanks for this reminder about persistence. i always tried to set goals myself but then unhappily i sort of fail towards going through the efforts towards achievement. indeed, persistence is the key and lots of self-discipline.

Anonymous said...

My late father-in-law and my best mate was a PT in the army and always kept fit. When he retired or rather, was pushed, he became ill and told nobody at first. His answewr was to throw himself into a training regime that made most youngsters look like geriactrics. In his local gym they called him the bionic man.

After his 2 knee ops wherin they replaced his knees with plastic ones he told me that he did go overboard a bit and never followed his own advice of making sure you allow your body its time to recouperate and rebuild, which generally naturally slows as we age.

He commented that our joints have a lifespan and if you choose to wear them out quicker by ignoring the messages your body gives you then you deserve everything you get.

I see so many runners wearing knee strappings, hobbling along as if their world will end if they don't get their daily exercise drug.

Sometimes, persistence can be just as much an enemy as a friend. As Mr Miagi said to Danial Son...." find the balance"


Gordon Kuhn said...

Okay, here's my comment. You are a special person one whom I'm proud to know. Now I have to get back to my writing and maybe some sleep as it is 0218 but monitoring a storm with high winds outside. Anyway, you asked for a comment and there you have it. A comment. I'd post a comment about my comment but then I'd probably have to plead the fifth if ordered to testify before Congress. SO, I'll defer for t he time being while I ponder the fact that we live and we die and we are supposed to be having a good time while doing it.....I think.

Gordon Kuhn said...

I thought I wrote a comment. Huh? It isn't here. Oh well, here's another comment because you said you needed a comment to check on something to see if is working.

Tyson said...

@ Pookie! - Your comment was in my spam :D That said, I just got it. Balance is the key to life, isn't it?

Jason said...

Hey Tyson,

Thanks for the reminder about goal-setting and goal achieving! Short and long-term goals, life is really pretty empty. It's great to get something done and be able to measure achievement! Great poat! :)

Tyson said...

Any time. Glad I could help.

Gordon Kuhn said...


Tyson said...

Sorry, Gordon, I was replying to Jobo Pooks, who commented above you.

The reason the comments don't show straight away is because I have approvals on them. I should maybe switch that.