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Letting the big goals fall into place

This is often the chain of events: I whine about going to my scheduled training session whether it be swim practice, to the gym, to a run with friends or to my basement for a spin on my bike trainer. I continue to whine en route. The workout begins. It's not so bad. Time flies. I feel great at the end, not because it's over but because I had a good workout and generally feel accomplished at reaching my goal.

The past two weeks, my motivation for getting started has been difficult. Perhaps it's because it's February and we've had those few teasing days of spring mixed with more cold and snow and slush. Perhaps because it's still so gray outside. Perhaps because that goal of the Buffalo Marathon in May sees so .... far .... away.

What's so great about the universe is that once you start paying attention, your questions and problems are addressed without you even putting forth much effort.

So as I struggled with lack of motivation and those far-off big-list goals, I had the chance to hear an assistant coach for a women's basketball team talk about goal setting.

Her staff decided not to have many goals at the beginning of the season because that list of goals is pretty much always the same. Yes, they want to win a conference championship and go to the NCAA tournament. So do 300-some other Division I schools. But in January and March, that's a rather amorphous goal and one that seems so far off, it almost fails to motivate on some days.

Instead, the team has specific goals for each game. They can be extremely detailed -- like getting three fastbreak layups off steals in a game, holding a team to a certain field goal percentage or committing single digit turnovers.

All those game-by-game goals help make the team and individuals better and the sum of the parts will put them in a position for their big goal -- a conference championship.

From my training standpoint, I had a list of variable goals with my coach: The Small List, which included general things like not going OCD on my nutrition and reducing negative self talk; The Medium List, which included more specific goals, like running a sub-2:15 half marathon in Miami (check mark!); and The Big List which featured the goals of running the Buffalo Marathon and the 70.3 Muskoka race.

But I'm feeling it would be worth it to break it down even more and focus on a week to week basis. I've done that in the past, but without much consistency.

Now, it's time to get organized.

In fact, sometimes my coach will leave goals for the week in my training plan. This week's list included the goal "stay consistent." Odd as it may sound, I thought about staying consistent during my workouts this week -- keeping to my schedule. Taking it one day, one workout at a time. When I found myself wandering during the workout, or whining as often happens, I drifted back to the idea of staying consistent. Because whatever it is you're doing, if you plug away at it every day the cumulative affects will take you to your big, long term goals.

But you can't get to the big goals, whether they about winning a championship, finishing a race or merely how you want to live your life, if you don't take care of the steps along the way. You become the best person you can be by taking care of the daily goals and letting the big goal fall into place all on its own.

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