don't+finishWhat feelings do you associate with letting go of a goal?

  • relief
  • clarity
  • motivation
  • excitement

This isn’t a trick question. A woman I started working with recently set a goal to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. She’d done half marathons before, but hadn’t been running or exercising much recently. So that was great–I’m always excited for people to have an event to focus their training on. After our first session, she registered for the race and was beginning to get regular running workouts in during the week. But the next two weeks, the workouts were hit and miss. When we met and talked about it, I gave a her an assignment to write down 20 reasons why she wanted to do that race, and finish it strong. My intent was to help her remember her original inspiration and use the list to stay motivated on a daily basis. Several days went by and I didn’t hear from her. Then she said, “oh, right, I’ve got to get you that list…” Then, nothing. When we met for our next session she said, with undeniable clarity and excitement “I realized something! I realized I don’t want to do that race!”

In an unexpected way, the assignment worked. If she found she was trying to come up with reasons why she wanted it, she realized she was burdening herself with a goal she didn’t have passion for. This happens all the time. We change. Our goals change. I used to feel ashamed when something I’d said I wanted no longer fit the bill. I felt like I was being a quitter when that happened. It’s easier to see in other people how right it is to let go of a previous goal even when we’re not sure what might be replacing it.

And sometimes, as was true in this case, the goal served a great purpose, even by being a temporary unfulfilled goal. It served to get her on the road to incorporating daily fitness. She hired me, joined a gym and now has a workout plan. She’ll work on getting faster doing shorter events, which  is better suited to her schedule, family and work-life anyway.

Let this be the reminder that you can drop the out-dated goal if you’ve got one. Get on to greater things, or lesser ones! Really.