Ten Things I Learned: #1 Setting Goals for Success and Failure

Setting Goals

I’m Competitive

I’m competitive, very competitive. Some of you reading this, if you know me, chuckled a little and thought that was probably an understatement. I like to win. And because of that tend to only do things I’m good at. This is something I’m working on.  But, truth be told, I tend to find I really like to do things that involve competing in some form. Board games, cards, fantasy football, and driving carpool all provide opportunities to win. Yes, you can win at carpool and the drive there. What’s the big deal if everyone else in the “game” doesn’t even know that it’s a game?

Setting Goals

Anyway, back to the Crazy Idea. Last year as I was thinking up this crazy idea I knew that in order to stay motivated I would need to set some goals, some crazy goals. Goals like losing 70 pounds and running a marathon. Goals that would push me hard and be difficult to reach.

As the year progressed I realized that I hadn’t done the best job of setting goals, they weren’t S.M.A.R.T. goals. Sure they were specific, measurable, actionable and time-bound, but they weren’t realistic. I wasn’t a runner and when I tried to run, my knees wanted nothing to do with it. So I had to re-evaluate a bit and decide that a marathon or even a half-marathon just want going to happen. We changed my training up to focus more on strength training rather than on reaching running goals. This in turn affected my weight loss as I added muscle and lost fat. So in the end, I didn’t reach my goal of a marathon or of losing 70 pounds (though I believe I did come close to that in fat loss, but the muscle gain off-set the total weight loss).

Failure and Success

There are two ways to view this.

The competitive part of me sees this as a failure. I didn’t do what I set out to do, despite how unrealistic it was. I missed the target I was initially aiming for.

But I don’t see this Crazy Idea as a failure. I am in the best shape I have been in for decades, I lost close to 45 pounds total weight and I feel the best I have for a very long time. To me that ins’t failure. I think it was Tim Ferris who said “It’s hard to fail completely if you aim high enough”.  When you set a very high goal, even if you fail partially, you still have room for some level of success. Alan Key said “If you don’t fail 90% of the time you’re not aiming high enough”. Often we tend to set easy goals because we like the feeling of success, of marking something off the list. But I want to challenge you to set some goals this year that are crazy. Then shoot for them, because even if you don’t reach it you’ll still be making progress in the direction you want to go.

What is your crazy idea for 2013?

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  1. jon says:

    Jeff, I’m with you. Differentiating between the goal and the change is huge. You didn’t hit the goal, but the point of this was the change. Good work.

  2. jeffabel says:

    Thanks Jon. Sometimes it’s about the journey more than the destination.

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