Achieve big goals
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about using interim goals and aligned incentives to achieve success.  While I still believe that works, sometimes you have to just go big.

Not long after I wrote that post, I went for a bike ride and then immediately went for a run.  It was my first run in 5 years and first bike ride in 10.  I still have no idea what go into me.

When I got home, I felt really good.  Like I could do it again.  My husband was looking at me a little funny when I asked him, “When is your next race?  I’m going to do it too.”  He thought I was crazy and wanted to know what I had done with his wife.

Pitch Pine DuathlonMy husband is an endurance athlete, predominately in running and triathlon events.  He already knew that I’m the type of person that can (mostly) do anything I put my mind to, but I’ve always gone after mental and creative challenges like becoming a professional photographer or writing a book.  To just up and decide to do a race?  That was surprising, even for me.

He was skeptical, but has been saying for years that the human body can do anything – it’s all about mind over matter.  So I decided to prove him right.

That day, I signed up for a duathlon:  2 mile run, 14.75 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.  I hate running, but I was convinced I could get my mind to short-circuit what my matter was telling me (that I’m nuts for even considering this idea).

Though a month was very little time to train, I spent my weekends biking and running to ensure I could finish.  I had no plans to “race” (I have a mountain bike – you aren’t winning anything with that), just to finish without injury.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I finished last?  I was okay with that.

Race day dawned cold and rainy.  My husband was racing in the triathlon, but he helped me setup my transition area and walk me through the logistics.  About a half an hour before the official start, I got bussed to a location 2 miles away to run back towards the swim area.  After that, we’d be on the same course.

I did the race on my terms and didn’t worry about what anyone else was doing.  I was passed in every leg of the event, by kind and supportive people wishing me luck as they went by.  I just kept moving forward, determined to finish.  Part way through the second run, there was a volunteer who gave me a fist bump and said “Remember, it’s all mind over matter.”  The reminder of why I was out there helped give me the energy I needed to finish and finish strong.

As I turned the last corner and sprinted towards the finish line, my family and friends were there – screaming and cheering me on.  I’m not sure where I finished overall, but it sure felt like a win. The best part was a huge hug from my husband, as he told me how proud he is of me.

There are times in life when the mountain ahead seems insurmountable, and I use interim goals and incentives to keep me going.  Other times, I decide I want something badly enough and just go for it – believing that I can achieve the impossible.

Whatever your method, go out and make forward progress towards your goals.  No one else is going to achieve them for you.  And there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you cross that finish line.