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The Power of Setting Goals

Well, for quite a few days I have neglected my beloved blog here.  I cheated.  I admit it.  I’ve been seeing another blog…

As my health started needing a boost, so did my attentions.  So for the past few months I’ve been going a healthy route – eating better and working out.  Below is my latest post on being productive in a different slant – being productive for life.  Check out this post and more at my blog, Life Isn’t Over at 40 or Any Age.  At the bottom of this post is a link to my progress photos from the past 12 weeks.  It turns out everyone is a sucker for before and after photos, so here is that link as well.

Well, after a few days of rest, I can finally sit down at the keyboard and announce my news – I ran my first 5K in many years and beat my goal!

OK, let’s back-track.  As many may know from past blog posts, I’ve really had a great time picking up the running bug.  I’ve enjoyed using my Nike+ Sportband and running all over my small town to train for a local 5K.  But as my time got closer, I was faced with a reality – how fast was I going to run this race?  The competitive side in me would not settle without some sort of goal.  I learned a long time ago that you can’t get to a new destination unless you have a map of how to get there.  My road map suggested that I wanted to beat doing a 5K in 25 minutes or less.  My stretch goal was anything under 24 minutes.

As I got closer to the race day, I admit it – I was scared.  Not only was I fearful of beating 24 minutes, I was actually fearful of beating 25 minutes.  I began to analyze myself.  What was causing the fear?  Why was I feeling this way?  After dwelling, I think I came up with the solution.  My fear was a result of the unknown.  Although I had trained, I had probably let the speed drills slide a bit.  I was not totally knowing what I was going to do because I had not prepared myself as fully as I might.  Was I being a bit hard on myself?  Perhaps that was the case – as is often the case.  A part of me was also fearful because my new found health that I had just re-established in the prior 3 months was being put to the test – and I didn’t want to let myself down.

So, last Saturday, there I was.  I spent some time leading up to the race visualizing my race, a tip I picked up several years ago to help anticipate what could happen and how I should respond.  Mentally put yourself at the start line and anticipate what you feel, smell, hear, taste and see.  Do this as though you’re running and fight the urge to fast forward the event.  Just see yourself running the entire race, the hills, the passing of the crowd and the final moments you kick things into high gear for a strong finish.  It’s a great tool to use.

OK, I’m at the start line.  I felt my heart beat start increasing.  I would tell myself to calm down and just focus on myself.  Surrounded by a small but anxious army of runners, the gun went off and the shoes began pumping on the pavement.  I started my watch and then started my music as a few ran past me.  I admit I did get emotional.  I realized in an instant I was in a place that I never thought I would be – back in shape and running in a race.  I teared up in one eye, brushed it aside and smiled at myself.  I smiled as a few started off too quickly.  I knew they would eventually slow up and I would be the one passing them.  The small crowd settled in pretty quickly to their paces.  I caught myself behind 2 individuals and matched their pace for a minute.  Then I realized, “HEY!  This isn’t the pace I want!”  I had lulled myself into complacency and fought to temporarily pass them so I could continue the fight within me.  At the 2nd turn I passed a young guy and knew from his shadow he was not going to pass me that day.

At the 2 mile mark I felt like I was running a fast pace, but my heart beat was starting to take its toll.  I had to fight and find internal motivation to keep things going.  I picked a person out that was ahead of me and I made a deal that I would close the gap.  One minute later, my tank emptied.  I got mad at myself for stopping – this was a race for crying out loud.  I didn’t panic.  I had visualized this might happen.  I took 10 deep breaths and got back on the horse.  3 minutes later I passed the individual I had wanted and then I saw 2 more not far ahead.  At the last turn I knew I was 1/4 mile out and had to give it all.  Drawing on all that I felt I had, I kicked into 5th gear and then saw the time clock.  I was still under 24 minutes but I would need to push it a bit more.  As I closed the gap, the clock said 23:58 and I had done it.  I grunted as I crossed the line and walked my temporarly exhaustion off.  No Hollywood score or soundtrack going off in my mind, but I didn’t need one.  I had made my goal.  And yes, victory does taste pretty sweet.

The results for the race were posted today.  I came in 3rd out of 5 in my age group and was 14th out of 30 men altogether.  I’ll take that to the bank this time around.  Next time I’ll push a little harder and try to cry a little less.  At least until I’ve crossed the finish line.

PS.  The race wasn’t the only good news.  I also finished strong in my most recent 12 week workout plan.  I lost almost 30 lbs., decreased my bodyfat by almost half and have the pictures to prove it.  Click here for my photos and new page!


Fear is Contagious

ContagiousThis is Part 2 on the conversation centered on Fear. The first part covered how Fear is a Choice. Taking things a step further, we’ll discuss how contagious fear can be. At least it can be. Much like misery, fear loves company. It gets fed by the masses. And it moves quickly if left unchecked.

When we watch the news, which story leads the newscast normally? It’s never the good stuff and rarely the acts of heroism. What sells is sensationalism and the negative the better. Fear and the story of fear is like a virus as it passes from one person to ten. Ever been employed at a company where a small rumor of takeover consumes the watercooler? Fear.

Fear left to its merry way will halt the future of any project, any promotion, and any marketing initiative. I used to have a boss who played the “What If” game and it killed every idea that anyone would come up with. We used to wonder how the guy ever got anything done due to his fatalistic imagination.

So we have firmly established how fear moves through people and causes panic, havoc and overall discomfort – so how do we stop it? Simple. Surround yourself with the right people. We all know the people in our lives who thrive on the drama, the gossip and the negative energies. At times they are entertaining. At times they are annoying. But make no mistake, they will drag you down. Literally.

A great sales person with a positive attitude fears little simply because they fill their mind with positivity. Daily emails sent to them from Zig Ziglar might help. Goals set for the week will help as well. But nothing can substitute a live person with the right attitude to keep fear at bay. It’s just the way it is. The right person can provide perspective, a unique angle, but most of all provide rationale to the equation.

(Thanks to RockStarVanity for the picture)