To set a goal is an important thing. Without goals (or plans) we’re all just sort of roaming the planet as mindless zombies. It doesn’t really matter what your plans or goals are, you’ve just got to have some. I’m not talking about some kind of a long-range goal necessarily; short-term goals or plans are just as important. For instance, today I will finally get to the dry cleaners and pick up that sweater that’s been there since last December.
But long-term goals are good as well, as they often combine with short-term goals. For instance I have a long-term goal of completing a full Ironman. On the Sunday just before Thanksgiving of 2014 I really hope to be asking myself, "Why did I plunk down $700 to do a race that starts with a 2.4-mile swim? Why did I do this!?!" But before any of that can happen I have to set some short-term goals, a training regimen, shorter races, benchmarks, and of course a bunch of swimming, biking and running. I have always prided myself on being able to set and achieve goals ... as long as they’re physical. I have no problem beating myself into the ground; I’m a governor-less individual that can push through a wall to achieve a goal. But not all goals are physical.
When you refer to people as "driven," sometimes you could be talking about a work ethic. The workaholic can be someone that is referred to as driven. They are driven to make money and be successful, and maybe they would like to be able to push themselves to a physical limit but just can’t. It’s odd when you stop and think about it. How can the same person that has this ability to build a financial empire not have the ability to focus on, say, running a marathon or even on being a good companion?
I guess it all boils down to what’s important. For me, setting a goal to do physical things is important. It helps me in many facets of my life: It helps keep my weight down; it helps with being able to keep my stress from getting out of hand; and it hopefully allows me to live a long life so that I can spend more time with the people I love. It also helps me be a better person.
That being said, when I finish certain endurance events it doesn’t always feel as though I’m going to live a long time ... actually, it’s quite the opposite. I started asking people if anyone’s qualified to administer a pain killer or if there’s a Kevorkian in the house. Yes, I always feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, but then I sit down for 10 minutes and try to get back up ... that’s when the problems start.
There’s a quote that I’ve always enjoyed, which says something like, "It is good to have an end to a journey, but it the end it was the journey that mattered." Ernest Hemingway said it, and I think it’s brilliant. And it really speaks to me and the setting of goals and plans. If my goal is to complete an Ironman Triathlon, then my journey will lead me on countless hours of training to prepare my mind and body to endure an event like this. And should I be so fortunate as to cross the finish line, all of that work, all of those goals will come rushing forward and cross that finish line with me, reinforcing that it wasn’t for nothing.
This coming Sunday at 7 a.m. I will be standing on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire. It’s one of things I’m knocking off my goal list: a Half Ironman, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and finally a 13.1-mile run. I’m not trying to win, just trying to complete my journey. So maybe you can send some positive thoughts my way, because I’ll be standing and asking myself, "Why the hell did I sign up for a race a that starts with a 1.2-mile swim?"
What the Hell is up with that?