The 2012 Goal Post

Today is January 8.  I guess it's time I address the mandatory blog post on "my goals for 2012".


I've read a lot of runner's goals this week.  A lot.  Really ambitious, detailed, calculated stuff.  I totally enjoy reading these goals, but I don't quite know where it all comes from.  This may sound weird, but I don't sit in my head very often thinking about my "future goals" -- and especially not with any kind of precision.  I kind of picture y'all sitting in an office chair with a notepad and silence on December 31st, reflecting and analyzing the past year, and creating The Perfect List for the coming year.

I can't compete with that.  This is NOT the running blog for those looking for a majorly inspirational character who has Deep Thoughts about Running and then tackles those goals.

Driving aimlessly.  Metaphor.


First: I Don't Do Goals.

Really.  And this has totally worked for me.

Of course, you know, I can show up at the starting line of a race and have an idea of the time I want to finish in.  And there is this fuzzy expectation, either created by me or by others who know I am already scratching the surface with a 3:05, that I will aim for a sub-3:00 hour marathon one day.  But generally, I don't create annual or monthly goals.

And this goal-less philosophy certainly doesn't apply just to running.  It applies to all that other good stuff in life. 

Analysis #1: I am afraid of failure, and thus do not like to create a goal that could possibly not be reached.  

Analysis #2 (and the one I will insist is true): my favorite version of life is a calm one.  I'm not the most zen person you will ever meet, but in general, I prefer to live life on a day-by-day take-what-comes-your-way basis.  I don't look one year in the future.  I don't look five years in the future.  If you ask me where I see myself in ten years, I will punch you in the face.

You may judge this to be a pretty weak-sauce way to live life if you are a hyper-driven person.  And I do have drive, but, it is an instant-gratification kind of drive.  I will work my ass off during a run that I am in the middle of, but I won't look ahead to create some killer training plan.  I will bust out a term paper for school or a brief for work because I want the instant pat on the back, but I won't create a plan for how I can work my way up to CEO of my own company.

So how is it that this goal-less life has worked for me?  It has worked because I'm totally satisfied with the various aspects of my life.  I don't mean to say that life has been handed to me on a platter -- I mean that I am able to accomplish well enough things without being anal about the journey to reach those accomplishments.  For example:

Education: I floated through college without a plan--which resulted in a stupid double major of sociology and political science--but ended up receiving a Juris Doctorate degree 7 years later.

Running: I ran a marathon in 2006 without the slightest clue or training besides my daily sanity runs, and found myself at the finish line at 3:33.  I started 2011 without a plan, began this aimless running blog in February, and ran a 3:05 marathon and a 1:26 half-marathon based on the excitement of keeping written tabs on my races.

Love: I flirted with the guy in my law school classes without a plan, fell madly for him within weeks, moved in within months, and have embraced every single goal-less day with him since.

It works.  Goals can create stress and confine you.  Living for each day creates freedom, happiness, and for me usually finds success.

Second: Running is Just Running.

It really is.  I love it--it is my religion and my therapist--but it isn't my job.  It is just my joy.  Since it's not life or death, I don't have much calculating to do for this thing.  And I think I need running to be flexible to love it.  

So I won't plan the heck out of it.  I will embrace each run as it's own, whether it ends up being a slow aimless run or a short burst of intervals.

There you have it.  I don't have a single goal for 2012.  I only hope to enjoy most days, if not every day, and to more or less do what I want as I meet each day.  Whether that is run hard, run easy, work hard, sleep hard, travel hard, or love hard, it is not to be planned for me. 

We shall see what 2012 has in store for me.  In the words of my dear pal Kirsten Dunst: Bring It On.  (And, I never should have dumped Jake Gyllenhaal.)