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Why We Don’t Meet Our Goals (and, does it matter?)

January 17th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about not hitting my 2010 walking goal of 500 miles.  One of the comments was really profound (read the post and this comment will make more sense). Tom J says:

First of all, congratulations on the achievement. You may not have reached the goal, but you made tremendous improvement.

That said, there can certainly be some *process* lessons drawn from this that can be applied everywhere, including to a job search.

First, you allowed great initial progress to distract you. You shopped looking at whatever you were using to measure your mileage when you got ahead of the pace. How many of us do that when networking or looking for opportunities or otherwise doing “grunt work” behind an important endeavor?

Then, when thrown off track by a setback, you didn’t come back to the goal. How many of us do that when (for instance), the first great opportunity doesn’t pan out?

Finally, the tried and true … the tortoise and hare fable. You behaved like the classic hare in your pursuit of the goal .. you started quickly, became confident, and before you knew it had lost. We have all done that in one form or another.

Good luck on the goal this year .. I suspect you get there! Thanks for the reminder to me about how to approach my resolutions. Exercise is among them!

I think this is great analysis of my failure, regardless of my rationalization.

Initial progress distracted me? Yes, I think so.  Not until about April or May, though… but my strong start was something that distracted me and let me think it might be okay to miss a day here, trim a mile there.

When thrown off, I didn’t come back to the goal? I think I did, but not with the same enthusiasm as I did earlier in the year (like 6 miles – although I was worried that pushing it might cause re-injury).

Strong start creates confidence that creates sloppiness? Yeah, kind of, although I do think that twisting my ankle and feeling stress on the calf that was ripped the year before didn’t help.

I agree with what Tom J writes… one comment later Shane Smith wrote “Great job with 3,400% increase!

I didn’t meet my goal of 500 miles, but as far as I’m concerned I gained a lot and actually didn’t fail.  The process was awesome, and 2011 will continue to be awesome :)

2 Comments »

2 responses to “Why We Don’t Meet Our Goals (and, does it matter?)”

  1. David Drescher says:

    I enjoy running and decided to tack my progress on a spread sheet. One metric was the percent of days I ran. I missed a few days, the percent dived, and I felt awful. I stopped running for a month.

    I no longer track my progress. I simply run for the enjoyment of it. And do I feel sooooo much better!

  2. John Groth says:

    Goals should be both short and long term. If in your career plan you are looking to read 120 books in 5 years-it does no good to be after 59 months not to have started your reading program. Reading 120 books in one month will not cut it. If you have not read anything in one month, you reacess, and start carrying a book with you at all times. You read when you have to wait, in the last half of your lunch period, etc. You buy books on CD’s and listen while you commute. Have frequent meetings with your self you’ll be amazed on how you can stay on track.