I DID IT! YES! I DID IT!!! That was one of the first thoughts that entered my head yesterday shortly after I crossed the finish line of my first 5k race. I ACCOMPLISHED MY GOAL! I DID IT!
Of course, I’d be lying if I said it was the first thought – to be fully honest, I think my first thought was closer to “I NEED WATER AND A PIECE OF OPEN SPACE TO COLLAPSE ON FOR A FEW MINUTES.” But it wasn’t long afterwards that the feeling of exhaustion was replaced by a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
I think I finally understand why so many people like to run in these races. It never made sense to me before, but I think I get it now. I learned a lot in the process and I want to share some of lessons with you to hopefully make a believer out of you too.
The most important lesson I learned is this: SETTING a goal and ANNOUNCING the goal makes it easier to ACCOMPLISH that goal.
Hands down. No doubt about it. The best thing I ever did for myself was not just signing up for the race (setting the goal), but then also telling the whole world about it (announcing the goal). Once I did those two things, the path to accomplishing the goal was paved.
How? Let me break it down in two parts. Part 1 today will focus on the first step and Part 2 tomorrow on the second step.
Step One: SETTING A GOAL HELPS YOU STAY FOCUSED AND DISCIPLINED
I made a decision to run the race about 2 months ago and as soon as I did that, the first thing I knew I needed to do was eat healthy. In general, I don’t mind eating healthily, but what I hate is the inconvenience of it. It’s easier for me to eat whatever I find in the fridge as opposed to looking for something healthy. And I have never been one who’s been good at portion control. Growing up in a Middle Eastern household and culture meant that at the dinner table, “seconds” were not a luxury, they were a requirement!
So for me, I’ve never been a naturally healthy eater. But I’ve always wanted to become one. I just needed some motivation. So this race was perfect!
And in the past 5-6 weeks, ever since I got serious about training, I have dropped about 14-15 pounds. That’s somewhere between 2-3 pounds per week. That’s not too shabby!
What happened? Did my sweet tooth suddenly disappear? Did I somehow receive a super size dose of self-discipline?
Nope. It’s because I had a goal! I wanted to accomplish something. Once the goal was set, it became a lot easier to pass up that second serving of mashed potatoes or to replace that cookie with an apple BECAUSE I HAD A GOAL. Losing weight without a goal doesn’t work for me. I need a target/challenge to work towards. My goal was clear: lose 10 pounds by July 4. I kept that goal in front of my eyes and keeping it there kept me disciplined and focused.
The same is true spiritually. Just as everyone wants to lose weight, everyone wants to pray more, read their Bible more, and go to church more. Everyone wants to be nicer, be less critical, and live more purely. But until you translate those wishes into tangible and measurable goals, you will most likely find yourself unable to discipline yourself enough to accomplish them.
The Bible often compares our journey on this earth to a race.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26)
The point is this: if we have a goal, it gives us a target to move towards.
Why should I resist temptation? Why should I struggle against sin? Why should I get up to pray? If we don’t have a goal and if we don’t have a mission, it makes it much more difficult to stay disciplined. But when we keep that goal in front of us daily and have it always before our eyes, it becomes much easier to do the right thing.
[click here to read the follow up post WHAT I LEARNED FROM RUNNING A 5K PART 2]
For discussion: What examples can you share about when you’ve set a goal and it’s helped you to accomplish something that you otherwise wouldn’t have done?