Goal setting is an important task for all of us and can be the difference between a life well lived or accepting the status quo. Somewhere along life’s journey our own passion and fearlessness starts to recede and we become hesitant about going after our big desires. We second-guess what we are doing and tell ourselves stories about who we are and what we are able to achieve. When the personal limits we’ve placed on ourselves aren’t enough, society likes to jump in and tell us what we can and cannot do.
To live a life that is not determined by mental limiters – our own or others’ — we need to set goals. These goals need to be viable but also far enough out of our reach to excite us and evoke a sense of fear within us. I know that can be a shocking word because we think of fear as such a negative thing, but if you see it as the incredible excitement that sends adrenaline to fuel a racer for a run or a singer for a performance, you see the positive role that it can play. This kind of fear is important because it keeps us motivated to continue on our journey especially when times are tough. People may try to talk you out of doing something so extreme (extreme in their opinion, anyway), but this is simply the limiters that they have already placed on themselves that they are now putting on you. They are scared themselves to step into the unknown and if you do it, then they will have no excuse to not do something out of the ordinary themselves, because they now see firsthand that the impossible is really possible.
The targets that you set need to be personal and important to you. If you choose a goal that is based on other people’s interests, you’ll have no inner motivation to stay focused. Having a concrete time frame in which the goal must be met is an obligatory action in order to reach the finish line. This time frame is crucial because it forces us to get the ball rolling; otherwise we may never start. It’s easy to say you’re going to run a marathon someday, but if that date is never set, it most likely won’t happen. After your goal is set and the date is in stone, the next vital step is sharing your goal with others. It’s one thing to let yourself down but quite another when you include others in on your goal.
Building a support community is mandatory for success, but is often overlooked. This support crew will keep you honest and motivate you to push past your pre-determined peak. To build your crew you need to include people in your circle who will truly support you. You’ll need to see them often, and they’ll need to check in on you often to see how you’re progressing. They’ll be the ones who’ll remind you of your goal when you fall off the tracks, and they’ll be the ones at the finish line waiting to congratulate you.
You may have family members who will be affected by your new commitment – a partner who may feel left out with the practice time you’re putting into an athletic endeavor, or a mom who’s genuinely concerned that you might “miss out on something” if you go vegan. In a case like this, it’s vital to include these important people in on your journey and to get continuous feedback along the way. It’s important to continue to love and support those closest to you, and trust that they’ll do the same for you.
The final part of this process is accepting and embracing your journey. Every major goal in life will have obstacles and roadblocks along the way that will seem to trip you up and will certainly test your grit. Have a plan of action for meeting these roadblocks if you can. I know that when I start on a new goal, I can get easily overwhelmed with the amount of work that is needed to get done and that it seems as if all that work needs to be done at the same time. To overcome this obstacle, I’ve learned to better prioritize the items that need to get done right away and put the others aside for later. By doing this I no longer get overwhelmed with what to do first, whereas I used to become frustrated and end up doing nothing at all. Forward motion, no matter how small, is better than no motion at all. The road to self-improvement is not a smooth one; there will be bumps in the road, but that is the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. All too often we’re only looking for the prize at the end of the road, but the real prize is the process it takes to get there. Take the action, do the footwork, and make something happen.
Matt Korsky, VLCE is a lifelong educator, animal lover, and health advocate. He has taught K-12 Health and Physical Education for the last 12 years. He lives in Long Island with his wife Lauren, their two daughters Rylee and Madison and their two dogs Hudson and Kaley. When not teaching or playing dress up with his daughters he is often found swimming, cycling, running, or finding his inner zen through his yoga & meditation practice. Matt is an accomplished triathlete and ultra-marathoner having completed over 35 triathlons including 5 half-Ironmans and 1 full Ironman. He is the founder of Plant Powered Coaching, which is a full service health and wellness coaching business that specializes in assisting athletes transition to a vegan lifestyle.