Goal Setting

One of my childhood memories is collecting the little paper tags from the Lipton tea bags. They had sayings on them and I kept them in a little clear plastic box. Every time my Mom got a new box of tea bags, I would pull off all of the tags with new sayings and add them to my collection.

Two that I remember clearly are, “When the going gets tough, the tough quit” and “If at first you don’t succeed, quit, quit, quit”. Oh, sorry, I guess that I was thinking about themes in today’s world and not what the tea bag tags actually said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

If those were among our mantras 40 or 50 years ago and beyond, why are so many people struggling with success now? Perhaps it is a lack of goal setting. As you read this, good friends of mine and fellow coaches, along with many thousands of others, are running the Boston Marathon. In order to accomplish this, all of those people who work hard, have families and have, I am sure, many other responsibilities and commitments, took a significant amount of time out of their busy lives and trained to run a marathon. They created an admirable goal, did the training required to finish a marathon, made the arrangements to be in Boston this weekend and lined up with all of the other people who had made running Boston their goal and they are doing it.

Do too few people have goals these days? I don’t know. Are too many people saying, “it’s too hard” when it comes to losing weight or getting in shape or giving up some bad lifestyle habits and working toward a healthier life? I don’t know.

If I had to lose 100 pounds, as I visualize it, that would be a big challenge. My body would already be stressed from carrying around the extra weight. My eating habits would have to be poor because that is how I put on the weight. I most likely would have some health issues from being obese and psychologically, I probably would be far from the top of my game and perhaps a little depressed over my physical problems and limitations.

But I would set a goal. As Lao-tzu didn’t say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and instead the correct translation from the original Chinese would be, “‘The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet’. Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lao Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. Another potential phrasing would be ‘Even the longest journey must begin where you stand’.”

The point is, there are extraordinary stories of people who couldn’t run around the block and went on to run marathons or do Ironman distance triathlons. These days, losing 100 pounds is a success story that is told over and over and is almost commonplace. What all accomplishments have in common is setting a goal and “starting where you stand.” Let’s all set our sights on our goals and never, never quit!

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