4. The Power of a Challenging Goal

So, it is now the Spring of 2014 and Jonathan and I are going to Kilimanjaro. Well, we think we are. I have told a fair few people I am going, and Jonathan has started to tell people as well. But there is a great deal of difference between saying we are going and actually going!snow - ski

Sometimes people say things, and just don’t mean them. For example, Bob and Bono were singing about there being No Snow in Africa this Christmas time in 1985 (and one or two times since!). Now, as they are intelligent folks, I am sure that they know that there is a high likelihood of snow in Africa this Christmas time, and most Christmas times. In Morocco, for example, there are ski resorts. Ethiopia has mountains that receives snowfalls. And it even snows in some places close to the Equator. In Tanzania for example – on top of Mount Kilimanjaro . . .

In fact, students of English Literature may be aware of an Ernest Hemmingway short story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. I’ll have to put that into my rucksack when I go.

However, I think we can forgive Bob and company for taking this artistic licence, as they were raising money for such a good cause.

Back to the point. Some people say things that they mean at the time, but just don’t follow through on them. I come across this all the time with some of the youngsters in my life. “I am going to start dieting and lose 3 stone” is a fairly common refrain. And within a couple of days it becomes “Can I have a packet of crisps please?”

Sometimes this is because the goal set is too big. I have to encourage them to think in smaller terms. Why not have a week without crisps, rather than such a vague or long-term goal as “I am going to diet”? Reward for achievement of these smaller goals (but NOT with a packet of crisps!).

However, sometimes the goals set are too small-scale. Whilst easier to achieve, they can be too easy, and therefore not be seen as such a challenge. Sometimes we need to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals, as the business-writers Jim Collins and Jerry Porras put it in their book Built to Last. These are goals that set the juices flowing. These are the goals that get you up in the morning.

For me, this was the case. For years I had been getting up early two or three times a week to go for a run. Sometimes this was easy, but sometimes (e.g. rain, wind, cold, laziness etc.) were reasons to remain in bed. I run half marathons, and they had been a good reason for me to do the running. However, having the goal of climbing Kilimanjaro was a much more compelling reason to get up. I have now had more runs this year than I ever have, and the average run is a lot longer now that it has been in the past. This would NOT have happened without Kilimanjaro.

So, Lesson No. Four – thinks about goals. Small, short-term goals may be appropriate and useful sometimes. And at other times the power of a challenging goal can really work wonders.


2 thoughts on “4. The Power of a Challenging Goal

  1. Little Sis Hel

    Hope you are out of bed ready for today’s challenge – the Turkey Trot half marathon! Training walk around east Leicestershire on Friday will be your next. My motto is “bitesize chunks” – always gets me through! Looking forwards to next week’s update x



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s