A few years ago, I made an impulsive decision that would have a long lasting impact on all areas of my life, including my business. It involves an decision I made on a whim. Being impulsive does not come easily to me. I really like to be prepared and think things through. Every now and then, I do something that leaves me wondering “what was I thinking?”
For this episode, I want to talk about the practical side of goal setting and what it looks like to really pursue the intentional future that we want to create. My impulsive decision taught me a lot about the importance of setting and achieving goals, even if the goals seem irrelevant and unimportant.
Here’s how it went, on a summer morning not long ago, a message from a friend popped up in a group text. It read, “Registration is open! I signed up to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon!” Then minutes later, another text came through from a different friend that said, “I got in!” Then a third friend added “Me too!” We all talked a few months earlier about how fun it would be to do a Girls trip that weekend and run the race together, costumes and all, but no one had actually committed to the plan. At least not until that moment. Now something that was a fun idea was starting to become real...at least it was for them. I was a little caught off guard and completely unprepared. I didn’t think this trip would actually happen.
It would seem at that moment that I would be excited to make this dream trip into a reality but that’s not what I was feeling. See, I am not a runner. I’ve never liked running. When I was 10 my Dad signed me up for Tennis lessons one summer. I really enjoyed them except for the part where I had to run across the court to try to hit the ball. When it comes to exercise, strength training and pilates are my jam. The treadmill, eh, no thanks.
But I knew I really wanted to go with them on this trip and I wanted the experience of seeing the sunrise from Cinderella’s Castle. I also knew that these Disney races sold out in minutes so I had to act fast if I wanted in. I sat down at my computer and told myself that if I got a spot, I would go all in on training for the race.
This was important because it tied back to my value system. I decided a few years earlier that I am a person who honors the commitments that I make to myself. This would be a test of that value. Within 20 minutes of receiving the first text, I found myself registered for a half marathon and asking, “what have I done?!”
Why am I telling you all this?
This episode is not about my experience running a Half Marathon. I’m talking today about the importance of setting goals not because of what we get the moment we reach them but because of who we become when we stretch beyond our current beliefs and abilities to become someone that we weren’t before. Goals helps us step into the next best version of ourselves. When we uplevel all areas of our life uplevels too.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Goals in general. Tom Sterner says “Your goals are a compass, not the buried treasure. The goal is not the destination or where you end up, but rather the compass that guides the journey.”
In Episode 10 I talked about the importance of creating a Vision for your business. You may recall that a Vision is simply the mental picture of the future you desire. It allows us to emotionally connect to what we want to create and who we want to become. It’s a creative exploration of the future that compels us forward with intention.
We create a Vision so we can step into it. We step into it by setting and achieving goals. Our goals, the things we are aiming to achieve, are born from the Vision. Goals are how we take those ideas and bring them out of our imagination and make them real, make them tangible.
In my case, I wanted to experience a magical trip that culminated with watching the sunrise in the Magic Kingdom with my friends. That was my Vision. My goal was to train so that I could make that moment happen. If I wanted my vision to come true, I was going to have to learn how to run properly.
Let’s zoom out a little and talk about what exactly is a goal?
A goal is defined as the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. There’s the word desire again. Desire and intention are established in the Vision that we create. This is true whether that goal is to use the profit from our business to retire our spouse or to run through an empty amusement park. Desire is the emotion that anchors us to what we want. It fuels our ambition and gives us something to cling to when achieving the goal feels hard.
This isn’t to say that the significance of the goal is the outcome it creates. Goals, any type of goals, are important because they give our brain a deliberate focus; they give it direction.
When we focus on something we want, it tells our brain what to do. Otherwise it will spin into other unpredictable ways, moving from one thing to another - always in motion but never really going anywhere. This makes us feel stuck, or confused, or disappointed that we can’t seem to get what we want despite all of our efforts. Goals are powerful tools for transformation, both internally and externally.
If we want to get results that bring us one step closer to our intentional future, setting goals is how we do it.
It’s important to remember that we are already getting results in our business. Goals help us decide what those results are going to be instead of letting them happen haphazardly and hoping for the best.
For me, my goal was simple. I wanted the Half Marathon to be a memorable part of a magical trip. For that to happen, I had to set some goals around my training and preparation.
There is a specific process that I use to set and achieve goals, but I’m not going to talk about that today. I go deep into the process inside of my free Goal Planning Challenge. If you would like to create a guaranteed-to-succeed goal plan, I invite you to join me in there. You can learn more about that by visiting yourexcellentyou.com/challenge or check out the link in the show notes.
The focus of this episode is on how goals can be leveraged to leapfrog us in our personal growth. As Visionaries and Leaders of our business, our external success is a reflection of what’s going on internally. Success begins within and goals present us with the opportunity to make big strides forward in becoming the next best version of ourselves.
In the book Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw, he talks about the character traits he learned during his time as a Navy SEAL. While there are many traits he discusses, I’ve pulled out 3 that are relevant to those of us brave enough to become Entrepreneurs. I invite you to ponder how you can incorporate these into your business goals.
1 Identify A Goal And Stick With It
We can all unanimously agree that setting goals and working towards them is good for us. That when we set them, they allow us to evolve into the next best version of ourselves. And that they empower us to create the results we desire. But wanting to accomplish a goal and sticking with the process for as long as necessary to reach that goal are two very different things.
It’s this later part, the endurance of the difficulties and hardships that come along with achieving audacious goals, that reveals our strength of character. We all want success, but are we really willing to work for it?
After I signed up for that race on a whim, somewhere deep inside of me, I knew that there was more on the line than a trip to Disney. I had made a commitment. And I have proudly anchored my integrity in being someone who honors the commitments they make to themselves. I knew that I would spend the next several months battling my internal stories about how I’m not a runner, I don’t even like running. And that every time I tied up the shoelaces on my running shoes, I would have to decide who would win that day - the old me or the future me.
After lots of research and lots of discernment about what was realistic and what was idealistic regarding my running ambition, I developed my personal training schedule. Most online plans say they can take you from 0 to 13.1 miles in 12 weeks. I created a running plan that would take me from running my first mile to running my first Half Marathon in 7 months. I am not at all embarrassed that my plan was almost 3 times longer. A big part of success is about honoring what’s right and true for you, even when it goes against what the experts tell you. I knew this was my goals-focused, procrastination-proof, guaranteed-to-succeed running plan.
But, as we all know, even the best laid plans aren’t worth the paper they’re on if we don’t take action. Which brings me to the next character trait that Dan Crenshaw mentions in his book. It is this: Make progress every single day
2 Make Progress Every Single Day
We all love stories of people overcoming unheard of obstacles on their way to achieving unbelievable success. I think we are just wired to root for the underdog. We hear the stories of professional athletes who trained in their sport using worn out shoes or modifying playground equipment. Movies are filled with examples of people who go through the dark night of the soul and then emerge victorious. The movie Karate Kid is a perfect example of this. In the final scene of the movie, we think the competition is all over because Daniel is fighting on an injured leg after getting an illegal knee sweep. Just when all hope seems lost, he positions himself in the crane stance which lets him kick Johhn in the head and win. As observers, we love this moment. It’s exciting and thrilling and reminds us that good does triumph over evil. And that it’s possible to win, even if it seems like the odds are stacked against you. In that moment of celebration, we forget a key part of his success. Daniel achieved his goals and won at that competition because he spent countless hours, waxing cars, painting fences, and practicing the crane kick on poles at the beach.
Success is achieved in the everyday moments. It means showing up fully, especially for the mundane things. It’s the small insignificant victories along the way that creates success. The person you admire most in business, that’s how they go there. If they can do it, we can too.
When it came to my training, I wish I could say I made progress every single day. I didn’t. My plan consisted of 2 short runs and one long run each week. There were plenty of days that I was supposed to run, but ended up skipping. Sometimes it was for a legitimate reason, but a lot of times it’s because I didn’t feel like it. However, I was very intentional about not skipping twice in a row. It’s a very slippery slope and indulging my urges in that way would not create the results I was after. Complacency is the precursor to failure. Which meant, I had to suck it up and stick to the plan.
I would love to say that all this came easy to me. It didn’t. I had a lot of mind drama the entire time. There were many days where I would run for an hour or more and be angry the whole time about the running that I was doing. At night, my brain would start to think of all the reasons why I should skip my run the next morning. My brain acted like an entitled teenager, always mad at me for making it do things it didn’t want to do. And just like any parent, I let my brain have it’s tantrum but I didn’t let it get out of it’s responsibility to honor the commitment I made to myself.
Which leads us to the final character trait that Dan mentions: Reliability is a type of fortitude.
3 Reliability is a Type of Fortitude
I have no doubt that everyone listening to this is reliable in many ways. I’m willing to bet that your clients and customers can rely on you to uphold your end of the agreements that you’ve made with them. I bet most of your family and friends would also say the same thing about you. My question to you is this - can you rely on yourself?
I’ve said throughout this episode that my single most empowering thought as I trained for the Half Marathon was that I honor the commitments I make to myself. I didn’t come to this thought because I am wise and noble or even self centered. It’s because in my own self-development journey, I realized that I could not depend on myself to make my own wants, needs and desires a priority. As an act of radical self-love, I committed to creating boundaries around the things that were important only to me. It evolved into the mantra that I honor the commitments I make to myself.
Honestly, in my Half Marathon training process, this was the area where I experienced the most growth. Fortitude is courage in adversity. It requires strength of mind and strength of character. When I impulsively signed up for the race that morning, I had no idea that in the middle of my training, our family would sell our only family home, relocate across the state and build a new life in a new home. In the chaos of that time, trying to sell our home, find a new one, register the kids in school, find competitive sports teams that had spots open for them to join, and all the other craziness that comes with moving, I felt overwhelmed. I easily could have pushed my commitment to the back burner. Any reasonable person would have said that this situation was a justifiable reason to stop training. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I honor the commitments I make to myself. I can rely on myself to take care of me. I refused to let myself down. I didn’t love the runs I did on those days but I did them anyway.
Now, as I grow my coaching practice, I am faced with the same feelings I had during that time. There are days that are hard and discouraging. I second guess myself and I wonder what was I thinking? Why did I think running my own business would be fun?
Then there are other days. Just like the training days where the sun was bright and the air was crisp and I could feel the clouds in my mind break away. Runners High is a real thing and it feels amazing. I have these days in my business too. Where I can’t believe how blessed I am to do what I love.
All of this is to say, that when we set a goal, we think we’re doing it because of what will happen when we achieve it. What we forget is that the person who crosses the finish line is a totally different person than the one who took that first step towards the first mile. That is the real reward.
Take some time this week and think about your goals. Are they bold? Are they audacious? And, are you willing to become the person required to reach them.
Until next time, have a great week, my friends.
Danielle's message is spot on with achieving goals. Not only does she practice what she preaches, but she's your guide to help YOU achieve the best version of yourself! A must listen!
Grow a biz & feel good! Danielle is really skilled at bringing both the actionable steps plus the mindset work so we can feel good as we grow our businesses while being present for our families. I look forward to listening every week!