One Million Meters

That’s My Goal, What’s Yours?

I’m not an athlete by any means. My idea of exercise is usually running downstairs to pull something out of the freezer for dinner. (I’m not a chef either.)

Even so, I do enjoy exercising on my rowing machine. It was a present from my husband several years ago, and that old Concept 2 rower is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

One feature I love is that it has a log card which records all my workouts. I can go into my history and see when I’ve been slacking off, not touching the thing for months at a time. I can also check my times and even upload them to compare my performance with other rowers around the world.

Earlier this year I noticed that I was within striking distance of the 1,000,000 meter mark. By “striking distance” I mean less than 200,000 meters to go. Since then, I’ve been chipping away at that goal bit by bit, but not very consistently.

That’s how a lot of us approach our goals, isn’t it?

If no one is yelling at us or cheering us on, it’s pretty easy to let goals slide. Important projects becomes things that we work on “when we have time” and before you know it, we’re convincing ourselves they’re not that important anyway.

Unlike more abstract goals, I can see very clearly what I need to do to reach this one. I’ve done the math, and with 852,000 meters under my belt, I’ve got 148,000 to go.

If I row 5000 meters at a time (about 30 minutes for me) just 10 times a month until the end of the year, I’m golden! That really shouldn’t be hard to do, but the question is, “Will I do it?”

I’m looking forward to the sense of accomplishment I’ll feel. I also know I’ll be very disappointed in myself if I don’t make it happen. Still, I wonder if laziness or commitments to clients or desire to spend time with my family will get in the way.

A little at a time

I know from my work with executives and business owners that the struggle to achieve what we set out to do is a common one. Fortunately, you can break down all kinds of huge goals into bite sized pieces that are easier to tackle:

  • Take writing a book. With a little discipline, you can write 1,000 words or 3 pages in a day, and have a draft for a book in just 2-3 months.
  • If you need more business, are you regularly reaching out to new prospects? Surely you can call two or three a day. How about several in a week? All you need to do is pick up the phone.
  • Are you interested in exploring new markets, but never seem to find the time to do the research? Start with 30 minutes a day.

Whatever is languishing on your to-do list can probably be accomplished with a little persistence. Think about those important but seemingly less urgent items like employee reviews, completing a brand audit, updating your website or checking your crisis response plan.

Any one of these objectives can be split into finite increments. Once you have the small pieces planned out, it’s pretty easy to check them off your list.

What’s going to get in your way?

If the problem is accountability, create some. Announce your intentions. Simply writing goals down or sharing them with your team can have a powerful effect. Set periodic milestones and check them regularly. Decide on a reward when you hit your goal, and you’ll have something to look forward to (This doesn’t have to be big. A hot fudge sundae, a t-shirt or an afternoon off are powerful motivators.) 

I hope you’ll finish the year strong, proud of your accomplishments and ready to start 2015 on a positive note. In the process, may I ask a favor? Keep me honest and check in periodically to make sure I hit that million meter mark!

Note: if you’re really struggling with prioritizing your objectives, you might benefit from a SPLAT session. I can work with you for a day or half-day to get all of your competing priorities out on the table, sort them out, and figure out what you need to do and when.

P.S. If you found this post helpful, you might also enjoy my guest post on Alan Weiss’s Contrarian Consulting blog: How Well Do You Rebound?

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