Crossing the Finish Line. Goal Setting and, Most Importantly, Finishing.

I finally checked off a bucket list item on Saturday.  I finished my first half marathon.  Whew.  What a relief.  I must say it wasn’t easy but the sense of accomplishment is amazing.    I can remember when the goal first came out of my mouth.  I was working with an amazing Coach named Stephen Starkey.  We were working through a Brain Based Coaching process and I had to come up with three challenging goals to accomplish in 6 months.  I had initially figured I’d set my goal as running 10 miles.  Period.  Stop.  Mostly because I had run 10 miles before and I figured I could easily attain that goal.  Then Steve said, “Is that challenging enough?”  Whoa.  I knew  in my heart it wasn’t.  It was a softball goal.  So then I said “I want to run a half marathon”.  What?  Where in the world did that come from?  I wanted to grab the words with my hands and put them back in my mouth.  Did I mention I’m not a runner?  I’m a really slow jogger and, at that point, I was lucky to run …er jog two miles at a time.  It’s amazing how one coach and one question can prompt you to push yourself. Crossing the Finish Line.  Goal Setting and, Most Importantly, Finishing.

So it’s one thing to set the goal, it’s a whole other animal to actually finish; to cross the finish line.   How many New Year’s resolutions have you not accomplished?  Granted, there are folks out there with the stamina and chutzpa to just go run 13.1 miles without any training.  God bless them all.  But I’m over 50, not exactly svelte and it was going to take months of training to be able to survive the race and not leave it on a gurney.  This part was definitely accomplished with the steadfast help of another amazing Coach, Travis Marsh.  With his help, he kept me accountable to my goal and helped me plan out the action items to achieve it.  Having a coach made the difference.    

So what here are the steps to crossing the finish line:

1.  Challenging.  Go after something challenging.  Go for the uncharted territory.   If you are writing a blog, then write a book.  If you have your Associate’s degree, then get your Bachelor’s.  If you raised $500 for Cancer last year, raise $2,000 this year.  If you’ve run a 5K, then sign up for a 10k.  Push yourself.  It definitely helps to have a coach asking you, “Is that challenging enough?”  Go big or go home.

2. Google.   Google or research best practices.  This is invariably the first step for most of the clients I coach.   Find an article on how to write a book.  Research what school’s are the best for pottery making.  See where the best areas are to go reef diving.  Get a book on tango dancing.  Figure out which half marathon works best for you based on location and your personal commitments.  Invest in some research.

3. Plan.  Plan the steps to get there.  Within a few weeks of setting the goal, I had the strategies and some action steps already planned out.  Travis helped me break it up into manageable chunks.  I had my weekly long runs scheduled out all the way up to race day.  If you have a goal that does not require planning, then go back to step one and start over.  It’s not challenging enough.

4. Execute.  This is where you are going to have to show up.  I have run three times a week since I set the goal.  Rain.  Heat.  Humidity.  Darkness.  Plan on adversity.  As it turns out, the day of the race was overcast with drizzle, a temperature of 70 degrees and about 95% humidity.  Not ideal running conditions.  Although my mother figured I would call it off due to weather, I knew there was no way I was giving up on the goal.  I found a rain poncho and took a plastic baggie for my phone.  I had spent 5 months running and planning for this day.  Adversity or not, I was going to show up!   

5. Envision.  In the four days that lead up to the race, I was constantly trying to squelch my fear.  Fortunately, my son had sent me a YouTube link of Jimmy Valvano and the 1983 NC State Basketball team called “Survive and Advance”.  One of the most incredible things in the video, is that Jimmy V would have the team practice cutting down the nets (which is what happens for the winning basketball team after a championship game) every year.  Use an entire practice to cut down the nets.   First, of course, he had set the challenging goal of winning a national championship, and then, he made sure the team was envisioning success.  I started envisioning crossing the finish line, putting a 13.1 sticker on my car, and having the medal around my neck.  Envision success.

6. Support.  Make sure you have support.  Whether it’s someone to underwrite your education, drive you to the soccer tournament or proof read your manuscript.  I can assure you that if my husband had not been available to pick up a dozen Krispy Kreme’s  after a 14 mile run or been there at mile 12 of the race to help encourage me to the finish, I might still have finished but his support made it easier.  As well as the countless (I mean more than 100) people along the race route and in the race, who said “You’ve got this” or “Good job”, a high five or a thumbs up.  It carried me to the end.

7. Do it.   It’s going to take tenacity.  My son has spent three years planning and working towards running track for an NCAA Division 1 team.  He works out everyday.  He applied to the schools that fit his criteria.  He ultimately went to the school he had the best chance of making the team.  He contacted (pestered) the coach.  When he got to the University of Miami, he busted his hump at every practice.  He made the team.  His tenacity and work ethic paid off.  Just do it.

Now I’m in the enviable position of being unfettered.  I haven’t decided my next goal but I feel like anything is possible.  So get out there and cross that finish line.

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