I felt very guilty for not getting this blog post written before the triathlon in August. I was worried that the topic would seem “not applicable” after the big event.

Actually, I’ve learned that it’s even more applicable now. Goals, I’ve come to appreciate, can be both frustrating and motivating, but are most useful when they usher something into your life you never knew you wanted or needed.

Back in June, just setting the goal of “finishing a triathlon” was terrifying. I knew it was the right thing, though, because underneath that blanket of “scary” was the thrill of adventure. I could hardly wait to get to the end — even though I really would have preferred to run the triathlon from the safety of my bed.

As you know, on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at about 9am, I completed my first triathlon. I was holding back tears as I swept through the finish shoot and the announcer called my name. It was quite a moment as I turned the corner and saw my training partners waiting for me. We had a big hug, took some pictures, and went to find some watermelon.

The Real Lesson About Goals

In that moment, I had achieved my goal. What I didn’t know then was that goals are just mini-ends to a much larger means.

I think that our society sees goals as the result of working towards something we covet — saving money to buy something, working towards a promotion, exercising to lose weight. The problem is that the result is fleeting. My triathlon is over, that thing you purchase could break or become obsolete, perhaps you decide on a career change, or you want the size 2 clothing more than your appetite does. Does that mean that goals are not useful? Absolutely not.

Goals are About Moving Forward

How did all of this come up? Well, I had worked for 10 weeks to be able to complete the triathlon. When it was over, I was surprised at how much it felt like a dream. Like I hadn’t been there at all. More importantly, I was left with a training schedule with no purpose.

With the help of my training partners and our coach, that quickly changed. We set new goals for the fall. Goals that built on the work we’d already done. Goals that were thousands of miles past where I ever expected myself to be.

Now, several months later and with several running events under my belt, I’m getting ready to race my second triathlon this weekend. I’m excited. I’m not expecting to come in first but I do plan to do my best, to push myself, and to have a lot of fun. I’m also pretty focused on the breakfast I get to have with my training partners and little niece afterwards, I’m not going to lie!

And Then…?

Well, exactly. And then we focus on our next goal. And review. And repeat.

This post was originally published on the Pebble Road Marketing blog but now calls this home.

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