I recently rewatched The Barkley Marathons on Netflix. For those of you that are not familiar, it is a documentary about a trail race in Tennessee and the kooky race organizer who dreamed up the event. Each loop is roughly the distance of a marathon. A fun run is three loops, but to actually complete the race, you have to run five loops (around 130 miles) in less than 60 hours. Needless to say, they have not had many finishers (only 18, so far) over the 30 year history of the race, yet every year people from around the world register for and attempt to run the race. We could probably learn something from these people who set audacious goals for themselves.
At First, It Seems Impossible
Much like the Barkley Marathons, some things seem impossible until you actually do them.
After college, I began running recreationally. Without any race experience, I signed up for a marathon. Marathon running was not a lifelong dream of mine, but more of an impulsive decision after another runner convinced me that anyone could run one.
A year earlier, I would have laughed at the idea, but as I trained for and ultimately ran that race (although very slowly), I thought about how right they were.
Most people who say it’s impossible to do something, have never even tried, and have no idea of what they are really capable of.
Goal Setting for the Bold
Everyone has goals, but how many people push themselves to really grow and change? Think of goals that you have for yourself. Is there a way to kick them up a notch?
For example, if your goal is to save $10,000 this year, could you kick it up to $20,000?
If you have a goal of reading 40 books this year, could you kick it up to a book a week?
Whatever your goals are, ask yourself if you are trying to accomplish the most that you can.
Make a Plan
Once you’ve set your goal, figure out what you need to do to accomplish it. If it’s a financial goal, do you need to make a lifestyle change or save a certain amount a month? If it’s a fitness goal, is there a training plan that you should follow?
Recruit a Team
Now that you’ve set a goal, and have a plan to follow, gather up a team of supporters to help keep you accountable. Did you sign up for a race? Share that with your friends. Don’t be afraid to turn down a night of drinking because you have to train in the morning.
Are you trying to pay off your student loans this year? Share that with your family. They will (hopefully) be supportive and understand if you don’t want to participate in a gift exchange this Christmas.
Celebrate Small Successes
As you are working towards your goal, celebrate any small successes along the way. For financial goals, I like to celebrate savings milestones and when our net worth hits a big round number. For running, I’ll celebrate any PRs I run at shorter distances leading up to a goal race.
Sometimes You’ll Fail
The possibility of failure should not hold you back from setting big goals for yourself. Sometimes failure is only temporary and shows you what you need to do to reach your goal.
If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, would it really be a failure if you only lost 30?
Even if you totally fail to reach your goal, that experience of failing might help you to set another goal or give you an idea of a different direction you’d like to go in.
Sometimes You Just Might Succeed
Think about that crazy, big, bold, goal that you’ve had in the back of your mind. How incredible would it feel if you succeeded in meeting it?
You might not have even thought it was possible. It was such a stretch. Such a long shot. BUT YOU DID IT!
Now, you’ve pushed yourself to a whole new level. What will you be capable of next?
Some Audacious Goals
I have a lot of goals. Here are a couple goals I’ve set for these next few months:
- Save $80,000 for a down payment and closing costs (we’re getting there)
- Run a marathon this spring
Here are some big, bold goals that I’d like to accomplish some day.
- Run a 50 mile race
- Complete a half Ironman triathlon (and then a full one)
- Complete a thru-hike
- Visit all seven continents (three down, four to go)
What are some audacious goals you’ve set for yourself?
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