As a beginning runner, I long to look like the guy down the street when he runs. He has long, muscular strides, his form impeccable and seems to run effortlessly. He is an “Adonis of running”. As much as I admire his abilities, it would be ridiculous to set my goals by his standards. I mean, he is half my age, not even my gender and obviously has more athletic genes in his little finger than I have in my entire body. But this is what we do in life; we compare our journey with that of someone else and set our goals by another’s standards then are surprised and dejected when we don’t “measure up”.
I understand that goal setting is paramount to success in any new endeavor, yet doing so often leads to failure. Why-- because we are unrealistic in our expectations. I tend to set unattainable goals like: lose 20 pounds before a wedding in two weeks, then I am shocked, disappointed and left with feelings of failure at my lack of achievement; when in reality, I set myself up for failure.
When I began to run, I made a conscious decision to set small, realistic goals that would lead to my one big desire of running a 5K race before the summer is over. Let me remind you that on my first attempt to run, I may have actually jogged – a block without needing a respirator to breathe. My first goal was to run ONE mile without stopping to walk. Each day I have watched myself come closer and closer to attaining this goal.
Today I actually reached it---
When I hit that one-mile mark, I felt like Rocky Balboa running the streets of Philadelphia. I am sure I heard the beat of the “Rocky Theme” bellowing in my head, as I looked the fool—jumping up and down in the middle of the sidewalk celebrating self-victory. I know one mile isn’t that far and that I have much further to go before I can run 3.1 miles without stopping, but this was a huge accomplishment for me. I immediately called Kent and Ginny, huffing and puffing as I shared my achievement. They cheered for me, and encouraged me and represented all that someone who loves you should be.
Why it is that we don’t celebrate life’s milestone in similar ways? Why don’t we hear the “Rocky Theme” the first time we accomplish things in our life that take guts to complete. Why don’t we cheer each other’s accomplishments no matter how small? I can’t tell you the number of endeavors I was able to complete on my own, after Don’s death. Instead of celebrating my successes, I often complained or whined that I “had” to do it on my own. I felt slighted because my circumstances required me to “step up” and I wasn’t as good at it as some other widows or single parents that I knew. What a travesty! I look back now and thing---DANG, I should have called Ginny and said “You know what? I changed the toilet ring, made solo-travel arrangements, or fixed the grill!” She would have cheered me on just as she did today, but I didn’t give her the opportunity.
We should set our goals according to our own expectations and circumstances---not gage our lives by those of others and at the same time we must allow others to celebrate with us. Life’s goals and accomplishments should be celebrated, no matter how trivial they may seem. We should spring up those proverbial stairs, arms raised in victory as the “Rocky Theme” plays in the background each day we step out on faith, accomplish something we never have before, or reach a personal goal. Can you hear it?