Your means to chart out a path you want to take.

Achieve something you dream of.

Become a better version of yourself.

Write it down, list the steps to take, take action on the steps, and then you reach your goal.

Your ship stays on course and sails directly to the final destination right on schedule.

Right? Sometimes things may actually go according to plan this efficiently, but often that’s not the case.

In my personal experience right now, that is very much NOT the case. 

Last fall I declared my own goal, to run the FANS 12 Hour Ultra Race, in June 2016, with the intention of being in the top 5 women in the history of the event. I did my research, created a very robust training plan, dialed in my nutrition, and started training in November 2015. And on Saturday, February 20 I ran the most effortless 20-miler of my life. My ship was truly sailing on course.  

Everything was going flawlessly according to plan until Tuesday, March 1 at 1:45 a.m.

I woke early that morning with a low-grade fever. It felt completely foreign as I typically go years without even getting a cold. I still went to work but took the night off of running, assuming I would feel better the next day. I could’ve never imagined that I was coming down with an illness that would sideline me not just for a few days, but for a few weeks. Yes, it was a lung infection that turned into walking pneumonia.

As I have been dealing with this illness and the weeks of recovery, I’ve had to re-examine my goal. Is this possible? Do I just adjust my performance expectations and do the best I can? Will I still feel like I gained value from the experience if I don’t perform well?

These were all very real questions I needed to ask myself in deciding what to do.

I’m a goal setter. I have a list of ‘2016 Goals’ in my purse, on my desk, and hanging up at home so I see them all the time. I also have a 10-year vision plan posted in multiple places. Visibility breeds accountability with me, and it helps to see these dreams and goals on a regular basis. With this race, I had to be very honest with myself – will I be satisfied investing all this time to be mid-pack or further back? Are there other running related goals I can shift my focus to instead and try a different 12 hour race next spring?

Honest answer: Being in decent shape and likely having an average performance in the 12 hour race isn’t good enough. I won’t be happy with that. I have chosen to adjust my goal, race a 2017 spring ultramarathon, and focus my current energy on getting healthy and preparing for the next running goal on the list… to help pace my friend in the Western State 100 on June 25 and 26.

That’s the beauty of goal setting. You may not achieve the exact goal you set. You may not get there with the steps you initially thought you would.  But by writing down what you want and taking steps towards it, you set off in a direction of progress. Your ship sets off pointed at your destination.  I may not be on the podium of the FANS 12 Hour Ultra Race this summer, but I will hopefully be healthy and able to help my friend achieve his goal in his race. goals

Success isn’t indicated by the fact you reached the exact goal in the specific fashion you imagined. Success lies in your ability to adjust your sails.