Thursday, November 8, 2007

Knee-d some goal setting pain?

Goal setting can be a painful process.

As I write this, my lower thigh is bunched and labouring under thick sticky tape which is pushing my iliotibial band in a direction it just doesn’t want to go. Earlier this morning for the third time in as many weeks a lovely lady with a deceptively sweet smile massaged the area sending bolts of red hot poker like pain shooting down my side and then she also stuck a few acupuncture needles in (just for good measure).

Yes indeed, this is what goal setting has done to me.

Each year for the past four years I’ve set myself the goal of running the Burnie 10, a 10 kilometre road race here in Tasmania, in under an hour.

Problems with this scenario:
1. I’m not a runner. The 2 kilometre race I ran in last year scared me!
2. Each and every year in my lead up training I’ve injured myself in some way (back, knee, ankle) causing me to drop out just before the race.

I vowed that 2007 would be my year - despite my lack of running prowess and well, my coordination if I’m being honest. And then four weeks out from race day, my knee started to ache during a training session. Despite rest, physio visits, a week at a health retreat and sooo many knee specific exercises the knee pain worsened and I was pretty much unable to run for three weeks prior to the race.

Race day arrived and my knee was beautiful… until the 2km mark when it started to ache and cause me pain. I pushed through it. At 3km I shed a surreptitious little tear because the pain was so great. I thought about stopping so many times, but I knew if I did I’d be back in the same spot again the next year, trying to achieve this goal that had eluded me for so long.

I kicked through the pain and pushed on. At the 6km mark (which was my previous mark for most distance run without stopping) I kept going, no walking for me. At 8km, despite the pain, I actually was able to speed up.

As I crossed the finish line I felt a lot of knee pain, but also a lot of personal satisfaction. The time read 1:01:40 – I was at first dejected, but then elated when I realised I didn’t cross the finish line when the starting gun went off, but over 2 minutes later, leaving me with an eventual time of 59:14.

And now – I’m dealing with the knee pain that follows from pushing an injury a little too far. But every time I feel a little twinge in my knee – it reminds of me of the goal that I’ve finally achieved.

My 10 kilometre race run involved so many of the same steps that I’ve needed to achieve goals in my business life:

Know your weaknesses and plan to minimise them

In my race preparation I knew that there was going to be at least one large obstacle (my knee injury) so I did everything possible to mitigate the effect this would have (I went to my sweet smiling physio, I trained specifically to avoid the injury with my fabulous personal trainer and I rested the knee as much as I could).

In my business career, when I first started selling real estate I was a baby faced 19 year old. To mitigate the effect this could have had on my ability to succeed I took every course and read everything I possibly could, what I didn’t have in experience I made up in knowledge.

Know when to take the more difficult option

When I wanted to give up (and walk) I pushed on, knowing that what I was striving for (the achievement of a four year goal) was more important than the pain in this case. Now I’m not saying that you should always exercise with injury and tough it out – but in this case, it was the right decision for me to do this.

In my business right before I opened my own real estate agency at 21, I had an opportunity to stay overseas, travel, see the world and take the easy option out. We all will be confronted with difficult choices in our working and personal lives. Taking the tougher option at the right time can open amazing doors.

Written goals are vital

Each day next to my head at my desk I had my training program which I would tick items off daily. At the bottom of my training sheet written clearly was my goal time – 59:00. I finished only seconds off despite my knee.

I write down my goals (personal and business) and I check them weekly – sometimes more often when the time frame is pressing. Three years ago I wrote down that I wanted to speak at NAR (the world’s largest real estate conference.) I have studied that goal so often and I fly out to Las Vegas to do just that on Friday.

Whatever your goal, whatever your personal challenge – I wish you every success!

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