The 3000 Mile SMART(P) Goal

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.4186679237_4b0b96b573_o

We’ve all set goals, or set out to set them, or just set on them. Just that short sentence shows us how easy it is to “set” a goal and then discard it because no one is looking, we got distracted or we came up with a new goal or path to follow. So how do we set a goal for ourselves then honor that commitment? There are many leadership books and goal setting articles out there that do a great job in outlining how this can be done. Pick one and set a goal!

I want to share with you a goal I set for myself this year and the little “steps” I took in achieving it. You may find it helpful as you set out your goals in the coming year. First, the goal! I decided on January 1, 2013 that I was going to run 3,000 miles this year. As a long time distance runner this seemed to be a solid challenge. Think of it as 8.2 miles every day of the year without missing a day. Sounded reasonable to me, but how in fact do you actually put in place the process to make it happen, a goal that could take a year to complete and not lose focus along the way?

I used the SMART(P) process to make this happen.

1) Specific- you must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as specific terms as you can make it. I said my goal is to Run 3,000 miles in 2013. Very specific without getting into the detail of how I am going to do it, but a goal that I can wake us and say to myself every day.

2) Measurable- the old adage is “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and with this goal measurement was quite easy. You have a Garmin GPS (or choose your own tool) and you know every day how far you’ve gone. Then every week and every month. This allows you to measure progress and adjust expectations along the way.

3) Actionable- every goal should start with an action verb (run, finish, complete, start) rather than a to-be verb (am, be, have). Here I was able to break out every month, week and day into exactly what I needed to do stay on pace. I used 10k, ½ Marathon, 25k and Marathon races along the way to break up the grind of the days and to give myself little wins along the way.

4) Realistic- this is where you have to be careful. It is great to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone but remember to add a dose of common sense. This part has always been difficult for me. My tendency is to add to many miles and I have done it many times at the expense of my body. This time I used the series of races to help me maintain focus and not do to many miles and get hurt. I also decided I would set personal records in each of the distance. (a definite step out of the comfort zone).

5) Time- time bound is important for a goal. In this case I did this in the beginning with December 31, 2013 being the last day I could accomplish the goal. Remember, a goal without a date is just a dream.

6) Persistence- This is the ingredient I feel determines if goals are accomplished. What is that “it thing” in your head and heart that drives you to finish, to accomplish the goal in the face of any obstacles that may arise. For me it was persistence through heat, wind, rain, cold, aches and of course schedule, work, travel, etc. to honor a promise to myself.

On Friday December 13, 2013 I crossed the 3,000 mile mark. 18 days to spare and personal records in four different distance races. (yes, I continue to run and the finish should be around 3,150 miles) Mission accomplished and a Boston Marathon in my future that I can use to create a whole new set of goals that allow me the opportunity to compete and live a healthy life. What are your goals for 2014? Do you have a process for attaining them? You do, just write them down and be SMART and persistent in your pursuit.