“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence…persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
– President Calvin Coolidge
This Thanksgiving I crossed the finish line of a race that I started on June 14. Back then I ran in the Spring into Summer 5K, the first race in a local YMCA series called the “AHA” Series because of the three towns it ties together; Ambler, Hatboro and Abington, PA. I had a huge moment of gratitude on Thanksgiving as I slammed through that final finish line in the Abington YMCA Gobble Wobble.
I had conquered a five month goal; I was exhausted. I was so proud, but I was not a winner.
Many of us have heard of or made SMART goals before; that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based. The acronym has become the standard in goal setting for counselors, therapists, life coaches, parents and the list goes on. I offer data from Cornerstone Executive and Life Coaching because if you haven’t used SMART goals, their three page workbook is easy and has worksheets to help outline goals for yourself. Just click here (or below) and go.
The crux of the issue is the “A,” the “Attainable” of the goal. The rest of the criteria is more objective—one does not require much soul searching to make sure a goal is specific, measurable, relevant or time-based—it’s all about the goal. Setting an attainable goal is personal. “If you set goals that are unbelievable even to yourself it is very unlikely you will achieve them…the goals must be possible…there is no point setting a goal to float in the air and defy gravity using only your mind, for instance” (Cornerstone, 2008). I’ve found many SMART guides use humor when defining the “A” perhaps to soften the hard look at ourselves and our abilities required to decide if that goal is actually attainable.
Most of the real and challenging work of SMART goal setting happens at “Attainable.”
I am Limited
“By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.”
– Mignon McLaughlin, Journalist
Cornerstone (2008) said that key to making an attainable goal is to “set your own standards by understanding your own abilities, strengths and weaknesses” and I had to do that when setting a goal that culminated my three year love of running 5K races. I’ve written a bunch about my lifetime of un-wellness (Check out the Fat Guy’s Guide to Health category to the right) and recently about my childhood adapting to a minor disability. I’m not the fastest and I’ll never be. I never want to be the fastest when I run, I just want to be my best—to kick the negative self-perspectives of my broken kid turned fat guy in the butt, over and over and remind them that Wellness lives in the heart and mind.
I am limited in speed and endurance. I am unlimited in persistence, heart and God’s sustenance (that’s in the FGG2H, too). In many ways I am like young Madison who was profiled by author Brett Harris (2014). She often judged herself by her limitations to the point of feeling overwhelmed around her friends and self-downing when alone. She and I both learned the key lesson about self-acceptance. “Accepting your limitations is not giving up. On the contrary; it is saying, ‘Here is what I cannot currently do, but this is something I will work at…and God’s grace will sustain me.’”
I was sustained through these three years of running. And though I will never win the races I’m in, I knew I could finish them because I will never give up. Thus, I committed to finishing the 2014 AHA Race Series and the medal at the end, which I knew I could earn; a medal not for winning, but for finishing.
I am a Finisher
“Life is one long, continuous race. It is only when you reach the finish line do you realize you were your only competition.”
– Frederick A. Babb, Author and Musician
Madison put it well, speaking of how she still felt bad about herself while reading for bed. “I had a choice to make. I could grovel, complain, and pout about my frustrations at what I cannot do and do not understand. Or I could rejoice, be thankful, and even glory in what I can do…” I love that attitude. If we “rejoice, be thankful, and even glory in” all that we can do instead of seeing our limitations as the fence which separates us from greener pastures there’s really nothing to stop us from attaining all of our SMART goals (Harris, 2014).
I am not a winner. I do not have the speed to be a winner. But, I am not a loser because I have the persistence and will to cross that finish line at my own pace, in my own strength and be gloriously proud in doing so. I am a finisher, and that is ever so much more valuable in life than being a winner. Everyone cannot be a winner, but everyone has it in them to be a finisher. There is only one winner in a race, but the only loser in the race—and in life—is the one who choses never to finish.
Cornerstone Executive and Life Coaching (2008) SMART Goal Setting Worksheets With Guidance Notes. Fayetteville, AK. Retrieved from: https://www.ndi.org/files/Handout%203%20-%20SMART%20Goal%20Setting%20Worksheet.pdf
Harris, B. Do Hard Things: Accepting Your Limitations. www.TheRebelution.com. Retrieved from: http://therebelution.com/blog/2013/02/do-hard-things-accepting-your-limitations/#.VIBAu_B0xFo