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.
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.