My Ego’s Goal

It’s so easy to say that having goals is a good thing. It is great business practice, it is important for athletes of all levels, it even applies to parenting and relationships, finances and spending habits. But how we focus on our goals, and how we use our goals to motivate us, is also key.

I want to share another story about my dog Misty, and how it taught me an important lesson about goals. One weekend Misty and I went for a run. It was muggy and gross, and I had forgotten that the local library (on our route) was having a huge community yard sale. As usual, Misty was thrilled to see her harness and leash, so I was expecting a great run, despite the ick factor and the sidewalk traffic. I set a goal–to improve upon my route time. Ready, Set…TROT??? We weren’t more than two or three minutes into the run when it became clear that while Misty was excited about running, she wasn’t going to be doing much of it. She was doing a ton of sniffing, was dragging behind, and frankly, was driving me a bit bonkers. Instead of coaching her through the run, encouraging her to “leave it” when we hit a smell, I found myself annoyed that my goal was at risk. I SAID the right things, but my attitude was off. I was unwilling to budge from my plan, and so when we got to the Library (less than a mile), I chose to walk through the yard sales with a PISSY attitude.  

The thing is, my goal was more important than the process. The only way I would achieve my goal was if my partner and I were on the same page. Instead of working WITH Misty, I found myself trying to convince her to “do it my way.” Instead of recognizing the value of giving her a few minutes to just be a dog, and then starting my route, I had tunnel-vision. MY goal, MY run, MY way.  

The reason this is important is evident in my previous post. I don’t even really LIKE to run! But I sure like goals and achieving them. And in my running, Misty has been a key component to my efforts. Her input, her contributions, can not, and should not, be minimized, even on a day where her ideas were different than mine.

So how did it turn out? I’ll be frank. My poor dog just needed to go poop. It’s pretty uncomfortable to run in that state, isn’t it? I was too tied up in my own expectations to pay attention to her cues. We got past the yard sale, found a garbage can, and then sure enough, she TOOK OFF! So instead of getting our fastest 3 miles time, we cranked out our fastest 2 mile time, and did so with splits faster than what would have been possible for a third mile.  

Did I achieve my goal? No. But I achieved something close, and probably did better work in the end. It was in the listening…in the realization of her position as my partner, that I was able to readjust and together, we could achieve something great. By being willing to adjust, by putting my ego aside and being open to the opportunity of growth, I did good work.

Do you set goals? By yourself, or with others’ involvement? How do you adjust when you goals are not achievable? How well do you work with others in your pursuits of your goals? Do you trust the process, even if the journey isn’t going the way you believe it should? Are you willing to put aside your plan and your “know better” in order to reach even greater success?

~Coach Meg Smith

“Want to talk with Coach Meg about your goals and how to approach them? Sign up for a 15 minute session HERE.