What if I don't achieve my goal?

Mar 02, 2020

Yesterday was the 1st day of March and I took a long walk – the first in a while.  Well, there were all those storms that made it hard to get out.  And when there weren’t storms there was still lots of rain.  Then there were days when I was just very busy and really couldn’t take the time.  And other days where a child needed a lift at just the time I had planned a walk. And then, and then and then…

Excuses really.  You see, I had committed on 1st January to doing the ‘100 Days of Walking” For anyone who doesn’t know about this, Irish media personality Dr. Ciara Kelly has been inspiring physical activity by promoting the idea of committing to walk for 30 minutes every day for 100 days starting on 1st January.   Anyone can opt in and those who take part post a photo of their walk on twitter every day with the hashtag #100daysofwalking. 

I started with great gusto and did at least 30 minutes for about 40 days.  Then I lost my mojo and missed a couple of days.  Then the days rolled on and it just got harder to get back into it.  And of course, I had all those great excuses! I started to feel like I’d failed at it and that voice in my head was going ‘well, there’s no point now anyway.’ 

I snapped out of it yesterday and had a bit of a chat with myself.  I’m taking inspiration from a couple of people I know who have completed every day despite their busy schedules and inclement weather.

I’m opting to take that inspiration and give myself a pat on the back for the first 40.  I’ll hold my hands up about the last 20 – I took my eye off the ball and stopped going for the goal.  I’ve already done all the guilt about that so no more energy going in that direction.  Instead, I’m going to double down on the next 40 days and, come what may, I commit that I will walk for 30 minutes for the next 40 days in a row.

The question is, if I get to the end of the national 100 days of walking with 80 days under my belt instead of the targeted 100, should I regard it as a success or failure?

It’s a tough one, isn’t it? It’s an idea we discussed at our Masterclass Bootcamp last week, particularly in the context of hesitating to set targets that are too stretching for fear of ‘failing’ to reach them.

The truth is that it’s better to set stretching goals and fall short, than to not set them in the first place at all.  Take my walking goal, for example. If I don’t re-commit to the 100 days, I’ll end up with an achievement/failure of 40 days.  If I pick up again, I stand to rack up 80 days.  While not quite the 100 days and not as impressive as all those people around the country who will complete the full complement, 80 is still respectable.  It’s far better than the 40 I have now and far, far better than if I had never set the goal in the first place.

I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes of all time, now several hundred years old.  I dare say it’s a universal truth if it’s stood the test of time for that long:

Set the stretching goal, release the grand ambition and go for it!  What’s the worst that can happen? 



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