2010 Goal: Failure or Success?

This is the time of year we think about setting goals… some do it with great enthusiasm and others think it’s a bunch of garbage because dedication to goals don’t last past January. (check out Thom Singer’s post on goals and action items)

Two years ago I ripped my calf.  It was pretty bad and I was laid-up, on a couch and with crutches, for SIX painful weeks.  It was really bad.

Last year, about this time, I decided I would walk 500 miles in 2010.

It was a damn-the-torpedos goal… I hadn’t worked out much since I got laid off and it was taking a toll on my health and how I felt.

I started on January 2nd, 2010, walking 3.2 miles.  In Utah’s freezing cold I sludged through the snow, walked on ice and made this a top priority.

Most days I walked 3.2 miles, some days I added a bit more, and some days I got up to about 7 miles.

It took time but I really needed to make this happen.  And I really wanted to hit my 500 mile goal.

By Spring I felt great and saw some unexpected results.  It was awesome and I was easily on the way to hit my goal. I started to dream about hitting 600 miles, and sometimes thought about picking up the pace and hitting 1,000 miles in a year.

And then, sometime during the summer I had some pain in the calf that I had ripped.  I took some time off.

A while later I felt sick and took more time off.

In October I finished my first week of walking every day, Monday through Saturday, 4 miles each day (24 miles in a week).  Again, I was on track.

I got back from my walk that Saturday morning and, well, long story short, missed the last step on my basement stairs and twisted my ankle.

For the first time I had doubt about hitting my 500 miles.

Here we are on December 31st and, well, honestly, I can hit my goal.


That isn’t going to happen.

So I failed.

Or did I?

In 2009 I walked probably 10 miles the whole year.

In 2010 I walked about 350 miles.

Is that a failure?

I feel like it is a failure.

On the other hand, I walked 350 miles!  It was awesome!   I did 35 times more than I did last year. I’m in better shape than I have been in for a while.  I did something for myself (and not just my business)… it was empowering!

Was it a failure?

I didn’t hit my goal of 500, so technically I failed.  But I feel it was a success because I did a lot more than I would have done.

I set my sights on the moon, missed, but still hit a few stars.

So, do you set goals or not?  Is it a waste of time if you work towards it, make good progress, get value, grow, but miss the goal? (the answer probably depends on your personality :p)

My new goal for 2011: Walk 500 miles.  Starting January 3rd.

What’s your goal?

6 thoughts on “2010 Goal: Failure or Success?”

  1. This is what life is like for those of us who live with chronic medical conditions. We set goals of where we want to be, where we need to be, and flagellate ourselves (often with the help of our doctors, spouses, family, friends, and co-workers) for not getting there. We see things as black or white, straight lines, when they are more properly fuzzy waves of some varying shade of gray.

    You may not have made 500 miles, but the 340 over last year is an improvement in your health, your dedication to health, your state of mind, and your progress towards a 500-mile goal. Remember the proverb about the longest journey beginning with a single step — and at an average of 2000 steps per mile, you’ve made 680,000 of them. Congratulations!

  2. Thank you tmana, you totally caught the essence of my message… sometimes I’ve felt it was a failure but my heavens —- 350 miles! For me that’s a big accomplishment – and I’m totally cool with that!

  3. Jason, thank you for this post — what a lovely message to read as 2010 draws to a close. I like your goal… it inspires me to think of my own fitness goal for 2011. Best to you in the New Year!

  4. In late 2009 I heard about how Julien Smith had finished reading 52 books: one book each week. He blogged about it, and I set a goal to do that myself. By the middle of January, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up. I did not read 52 books last year. Some of it has to do with my reading style and the choice of books.

    Failure? Maybe. Maybe not.
    In 2009, I maybe read 3 or 4 books.
    In 2010, I read 12 books.

    I can honestly say that setting the goal that high forced me to grow. I think you feel the same way, too, Jason.

    I look forward to what we’re going to do this year.

  5. Greetings!

    First of all, congratulations on the achievement. You may not have reached the goal, but you made tremendous improvement.

    That said, there can certainly be some *process* lessons drawn from this that can be applied everywhere, including to a job search.

    First, you allowed great initial progress to distract you. You shopped looking at whatever you were using to measure your mileage when you got ahead of the pace. How many of us do that when networking or looking for opportunities or otherwise doing “grunt work” behind an important endeavor?

    Then, when thrown off track by a setback, you didn’t come back to the goal. How many of us do that when (for instance), the first great opportunity doesn’t pan out?

    Finally, the tried and true … the tortoise and hare fable. You behaved like the classic hare in your pursuit of the goal .. you started quickly, became confident, and before you knew it had lost. We have all done that in one form or another.

    Good luck on the goal this year .. I suspect you get there! Thanks for the reminder to me about how to approach my resolutions. Exercise is among them!

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