Setting and Achieving Goals (My Experience)

My link to Brian Tracy’s blog post yesterday hit home because last February, I decided I was going to start running. I was 41 at the time (technically I’m still 41 but will be turning 42 on October 15th) and felt like I was in a major funk. I felt horrible. I had actually been thinking about running for several months but finally made myself buy some shoes and a little iPod to keep me company.

I had tried walking at night in the past but that never seemed to work because something would always come up that would interfere with my walk. So, I decided that morning was my best bet. I decided to go running at 5AM every weekday morning. Running early in the morning was actually a good thing because it meant I would have to go to bed at a decent time as I tend to be a night owl.

My goal has never been to run marathons or anything like that. I mostly want to run just to do something. I eventually set my distance goal at 3.2 miles, which is just a tad further than a 5K. My workout has deviated and evolved over the months. Once I got up to 3.2 miles, I decided I would run 1.6 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and run 3.2 miles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for a total of 14.4 miles per week.

I remember my first day well. It was February 21st. I remember stretching a bit and then setting off down the street. I ran about 2 blocks and had to stop. The next day I made myself go a little further. I wasn’t pushing myself very hard because I didn’t want to get injured and I was kind of lazy. I kept adding little bits to my run until I could run my entire first route, which was a little under a mile. Then, I expanded my route.

I’m now on week 33 and except for a couple of injuries and a couple of weeks off right before school started, I have been out there every weekday morning either running or walking. I’m still very slow but I have built up to my distance goal of 3.2 miles. Now I’ll start working on my time.

There were LOTS of mornings when I did not want to get up. But, I forced myself. Once I got back from my run, I was glad I went. In addition to not letting myself down, I also didn’t want to let my facebook friends down. I say that because when I started running, I started posting my progress on facebook. I got up every morning and ran because I didn’t want to have to tell my friends that I had skipped. My wife and my facebook friends were huge supporters of my program.

Hopefully my story will be an encouragement for you to do something for yourself. You’ll feel better once you do.

My Favorites of John Wooden’s Favorite Maxims

John Wooden was one of my favorite leadership examples. I have several books by him and like them all. I was reading Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court* last night and came across a list of Coach Wooden’s favorite maxims in the back of the book. I chose some of my favorites from the list and posted them here. I actually liked all of them but didn’t want to post them all. By the way, if you want a brief book on John Wooden’s philosophies, this is a great book to start with.

• Happiness begins where selfishness ends.

• Earn the right to be proud and confident.

• Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.

• Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

• If you do not have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?

• The smallest good deed is better than the best intention.

• The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.

• Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

• Time spent getting even would be better spent trying to get ahead.

• You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, to improve—not to punish.

• Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

• If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.

• As long as you try your best, you are never a failure. That is, unless you blame others.

• Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.

• Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Character is what you really are; reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.

• Be slow to criticize and quick to commend.

• Be more concerned with what you can do for others that what others can do for you. You’ll be surprised at the results.

• You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for another without thought of something in return.

• Forget favors given; remember those received.

• Treat all people with dignity and respect.

*Affiliate Link

Question of the Day – Goals

I’ve been doing some reading on goal-setting. Sadly, I have never really been a goal-setter. Yes, I have goals floating around in my head, but I have never really taken the time to write them down or track them. Subconsciously, I probably do this so that there’s no accountability. The problem is that I’m also not reaching my potential.

So let me ask you:

Do you regularly set goals? Do you have them written down somewhere? Do you keep track of them and your progress?

I don’t have a problems with financial goals. They are easy to set and administer:

Goal: $3,500 in a savings account to pay property taxes by then end of the year.

Meeting goal: Automatically deposit $350 per month into a savings account until taxes are due.

Pretty simple stuff. With retirement planning is much the same. My goal is to save as close to the maximum amount as possible. I only wish personal/professional goals were as easy.

The Two Biggest Enemies of Personal and Financial Success

In his book, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline*, Brian Tracy explains two of the biggest enemies to personal success, which are the Path of Least Resistance and the Expediency Factor.

Regarding the Path of Least Resistance, Tracy writes:

The Path of Least Resistance is what causes people to take the easy way in almost every situation. They seek shortcuts to everything. They arrive at work at the last minute and leave at the first opportunity. They look for get-rich-quick schemes and easy money. Over time, they develop the habit of always seeking an easier, faster way to get the things they want rather than doing what is hard but necessary to achieve real success.

The Expediency Factor is related:

The Expediency Factor, which is an extension of the law of least resistance, is even worse when leading people to failure and underachievement. This principle says, “People invariably seek the fastest and easiest way to get the things they want, right now, with little or no concern for the long-term consequences of their behaviors.” In other words, most people do what is expedient, what is fun and easy rather than what is necessary for success.

I think the Expediency Factor is the reason so many people get into trouble with debt. My wife and I have even experienced this earlier in our marriage. It’s important to understand the true cost of each of our financial decisions. Unfortunately, the true cost requires a calculation that goes beyond just the monthly payment. Why do you suppose car salesmen always ask, “What payment can you afford?”

I think it’s natural for people to take the path of least resistance. It’s the easy way. I know I have fallen into that rut during my lifetime. Heck, I’m in that rut right now!

*Affiliate Link

Question of the Day – How Good Are You at Controlling Compulsive Spending

Today’s Question of the Day was inspired by Just Because You CAN, Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD from MoneyCrush.

After reading her post, I got to thinking about times when I practiced self-control when at the store. I think I have a pretty good handle on compulsiviness when at the store. That’s not to say that I haven’t had times when I walked out of a store thinking, “Why did I buy this?”

My problem is with silly stuff like iTunes. I’m a music nut and I find it too easy to purchase music from iTunes. That’s not to say I’m bad or anything but that’s one area I have to be careful of.

What about you?

How Good Are You at Controlling Compulsive Spending?


Beth sent me a link to this article: But Will It Make You Happy? It’s a long article but it is at least interesting. Here are a few highlights:

She had so much.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

While I agree that stuff won’t make you happy, I think it’s silly to go to this extreme. The article goes on to mention that this couple was also $30,000 in debt before they downsized. I’d be willing to bet that the debt was a significant source of unhappiness. Let’s face it, CONSUMER DEBT SUCKS.

I think what people need is BALANCE. I also think happiness is comes from WHAT YOU DO and not from WHAT YOU OWN. Let’s also not discount the religious aspects. I know as a Christian, my happiness comes from my faith. To those who aren’t religious will find that statement silly. But, for me, it’s true. It’s when I forget about my walk that I find myself unhappy.

I think the key to happiness is to live within your means, be thankful for what you have, and share with others.

My wife and I are just now getting to the point financially where we don’t have to worry too much about money. We aren’t wealthy by any means but things are starting to get to the point where we have met our needs with our income and we don’t have any big needs before us (other than retirement). In other words, we could come into money and it wouldn’t change our lifestyle that much. Sure, we might treat ourselves to something but it wouldn’t cause us to change too much about where we are right now. To me, that’s a form of happiness or contentment.

Another quote I found interesting…

New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses.

I would agree with that AS LONG as they are not charging the experience on their credit cards. One thing I find frustrating about vacations is the paying of Visa bill after the vacation is over…lol. I’m like, “Wow! I don’t recall the vacation being that much fun!”

Here is my formula for happiness:

1. Live within your means. It may not add to your happiness but it won’t make you unhappy either.

2. Think twice before you upsize your lifestyle. Will a bigger house really make you happier? Will a new car make you any happier? Think of that new car six months after you purchase it with stains on the carpet and a few scratches…

3. Save up for anything you want and pay cash for it. Anticipation adds to happiness (according to the article).

4. Give back (time and money).

5. Be thankful for what you have.

6. Spend time with friends and family.

Thoughts? Read the article and tell me what you think. What stood out for you? What did you take away from the article?