The first item on my 2010 to-do list
I never used to be one to set goals, at least not long-term, life-changing ones (my list of things to do would be more likely to include “Pick up dry cleaning” rather than “Save the world”). But a couple years ago, with the gentle persuasion of The Secret (a concept-turned-huge-marketing-success, which I’m not endorsing, just passing on through my personal experience), I did make a list of more serious ambitions.
One was to complete a marathon. At the time I wrote this down, the idea of running 26.2 miles didn’t seem completely absurd; after all, I did run three miles several times a week, and even 10 miles on occasion for races for which my sisters forced me to sign up with them. But running long distances day in and day out to train for the big event for months ahead of time did not sound like a commitment I was ready to make. So I jotted “marathon” on my list, and I didn’t give myself a deadline — I figured when my schedule cleared up and I was ready, I’d do it and check it off the list — no rush. And if I happened to grow old, break both my legs, or otherwise impair myself in the meantime in a way that made this goal impossible, well then at least I tried.
But lists don’t work that way. The moment something is down on paper (and not on a Post-It note that you may be tempted to throw away; this is the perfect reason to use the pretty journal that you’ve placed in a drawer because it’s too nice to use for grocery lists and errands), you have completely obligated yourself to that item. Had I not written that one word in my otherwise blank notebook more than two years ago, I may still be just talking about the idea of a marathon and congratulating my sister on completing one without me.
But I did write it down. And so, when my sister approached me on January 1, 2008 and said, “We have exactly 12 weeks to prepare for the DC National Marathon, are you up for it?” I knew I had no choice but to begin training that very day. On March 29, 2008, I crossed that finish line in 4 hours, 58 minutes and 4 seconds (a full 30 seconds before my sister, but this isn’t really the place for bragging).
Less than a year later, I set a new goal for myself: natural childbirth. Since this one evolved over a period of time I spent researching the topic, I never actually put a pen to paper to record the goal. Instead, I ended up telling everyone I knew about my plan to accomplish this feat, so that come baby’s birth day, I’d feel like a complete hypocrite if I didn’t follow through with it. This method worked just as well as the journal approach for me, and after training for months through yoga and Hypnobirthing techniques, I delivered a healthy baby boy with no more than an affirmation-filled iPod and the force of my own sheer will.
You’d think after accomplishing these two lofty goals, which I’d venture to say very few people have under their belts, I’d be finished, right? Well, as it turns out, I now thrive on goal-setting and goal-achieving, which leaves me pretty busy and with what I hope is a healthy amount of stress. My current endeavor: Leaving my 9-to-5 (which came with regular paychecks) for a more balanced life of running my own business and enjoying time with my family (which comes with regular hugs and kisses, and sometimes paychecks, too).
While I’ve already met the goal of quitting my day job, the success of my business as my full-time gig has yet to be determined. But as I have done with my other aspirations, I am pouring my heart and soul into this mission, and telling everyone of my plans as a means to encourage victory.