Goals

#Goals

I hit a major milestone this week in a goal I’ve been pursuing all year.  I walk.  This year I’ve been walking a lot. I’m working toward a mileage goal, and it took me until the last day in August to be on track to hit the goal.  I’ve been behind for 8 months.  Eight months!  And I honestly have no idea if I can stay on track for the rest of the year.  But I’m there right now.

I’m part of an online community all working toward this goal.  I’ve been watching person after person hit the year-end goal all summer.  Most of the people in this community are runners.  The other people I know personally working on the goal are runners.  Good runners.  They finish miles so much faster than I do. It can be frustrating at times.

It’s hard to set a goal, work toward that goal, and watch so many other people beat you to the goal.  But such is life.  No matter how fast you are, someone is always faster. 

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Okay Theodore Roosevelt said it, but I’ve agreed with him many times.

Our goals are our goals.

I spend too much time wishing I was a runner.  The runners I know are amazing!  They are dedicated, passionate, motivated.  They have cool running gear, and they talk a lot about shoes and watches.  They are fit.  Man are they fit. It is impressive.

I walk.  I walk a lot.  That’s what I can do.  And I can certainly get cool walking gear and talk about shoes and watches.  And I can be dedicated and passionate and motivated.

Our goals are our goals.

The only person we are meant to compare ourselves to is the person we were the day before.  We do not have to be faster or thinner or wealthier than anyone.  We do not have to have a better job or a bigger house or a fancier car to be worthy.

Our goals are our goals.

I have some good friends who are competitive. Several even have competition in their top five Gallup strengths.  Competition is different from personal comparison.

Competition can be healthy.  It can show us what’s possible.  It can push us and challenge us to be better than we ever thought we could be.  I’m not discouraging competition, but we should not be judging ourselves based on a comparison with others.

I am enough.  You are enough.  Right now.  Just as we are.

So set some goals that will be hard to reach.  Challenge yourself to go farther or faster than you thought you could.  But appreciate yourself for who you are and what you bring to the world.  Just the way you are.

Relentless Pursuit of Perfection

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Peyton Manning may or may not have played his last professional football game, but his performance this season added to his legacy in ways no one can deny.  His skill, his leadership, and especially his resilience cemented his place among the best of the best in football history.  What Jerry Rice brought to the game physically, Peyton Manning brings to the game mentally.  They might both be described  as genius in their chosen field.

I am a big believer in finding your sparks, your genius, and tirelessly working to become the very best at them. There are those among us who have taken their passions and pursued them relentlessly, seeking perfection.  What do they have that we don’t?  Yes, some of them have physical prowess or intellectual ability beyond what most people possess.  But those are not the things that set them apart.  It is their passion, their drive, and their persistence in the face of obstacles that makes them the best.

Say what you will about Steve Jobs, but there is no one who worked harder to make his vision a reality than he did.  The stories of his drive are legendary.  Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay for the movie Steve Jobs, is known to be just as tenacious in his pursuit of perfection.  He revises his scripts right up until the moment of shooting.

As troubled as Michael Jackson’s private life might have been, he is at the top of almost every list of the greatest performers of all time.  No recording, no stage set, no dance number was ever good enough.  He knew there was always room to make it even better.

Why is it that some people set the alarm to go off at 4:04 am every day and climb out bed to finish a run or complete a workout before heading to work?  They’ve done more before 7:00 am than many will do all day.

Why is it that some people rehearse dance seven days a week, or practice their instrument for hours on end, or write fifty pages a day, every day?  Some people have made a commitment to be the best at what they do.

I’ve wavered on the title of this blog all week.  I struggle with the conflict between done and done perfectly.  In pursuit of perfection, we are sometimes paralyzed.  “In pursuit of excellence” may, in fact, be the better title.  The goal is to be the best you can be, not necessarily to be better than everyone else.

None of this is easy.  Sleep is easier than waking up early to go for a run in the rain. Sitting on the couch is easier than heading off to the dance studio to practice the same routine for the hundredth time that week.  Snapping the quick shot is easier than waiting for hours for the perfect light to get the best possible photograph.  This relentless pursuit of perfection takes stamina and persistence and grit.  There are some people though who embrace the suck.

I don’t have competition in my top five strengths.  (We’ll pause as those who know me best say it must be number six.) But I certainly want to succeed at whatever I do.  My sparks are teaching and learning…and writing.  I was rejected by my first publisher this week.  I submitted a book proposal, and I got a polite email on my birthday that they did not feel the book would be appropriate for their readers.  I am undaunted.  I will continue to work on the manuscript.  I will finish it, and I will revise and revise and revise in a relentless pursuit of perfection.

Are you living in vaporware?

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Last fall I realized that I had many goals left to achieve in my life.  I have some pretty big dreams, and those dreams are not going to fulfill themselves without some work on my part.

“An unexamined life is not worth living” (Socrates), and honest questioning and self-reflection is essential for personal growth.  It can be hard to pause to look in the mirror and reflect on whether or not you are living the life you imagined.  But it is worth the time.

We were meant for great things.

Kristin Chenoweth has a beautiful anthem called I Was Here about this desire to do something big.  It’s worth a listen.  It pretty much sums up my own feelings.

I Was Here

I wanna do something that matters

Say something different

Something that sets the whole world on its ear

I wanna do something better

With the time I was given

I wanna try to touch a few hearts in this life

Leave nothing less than something that says

I was here

I think this desire to leave a mark, to do something big, is universal.

In 1962 at Rice University, President Kennedy announced that we would land a man on the moon years before we knew how to do it.  President Kennedy’s Speech

Alan Turing envisioned a machine that would revolutionize cryptanalysis and computer science long before he was able to actually make it functional.

They had big dreams.

In the world of technology, companies frequently announce spectacular, almost unimaginable, advances long before they have made them a reality.  And some of them never see the light of day.

We call that vaporware.

Last fall I realized that I was living in vaporware.  One of my biggest dreams, publishing a book, was nowhere.  I needed to do something, anything, to take the first step in making it a reality.

Set Goals

I chose blogging as a tangible step.  I decided the goal would be to publish once a week during the school year.

Make a Plan

I set time aside on Saturday mornings to write.  More often, of course, is better, but I always write on Saturday mornings. That gives me 24 hours to reread and revise.  My daughter creates the artwork for the blog every Saturday after I’m done writing.  My husband proofs it and offers feedback.  Then I publish Sunday mornings.

Revise the Goals

I know my next step is to determine how to move from a blog to a book.  That’s the next goal.

Are you living in vaporware?  When you examine your life, are you living your dreams?

None of this is easy.  It is sometimes incredibly hard.  But it is always worth it.

“We choose to do it not because it is easy but because it is hard.” John F. Kennedy, Jr.