I’m a big fan of goal setting. I make to-do lists, I write everything I want to do in day planners and log it in my phone, and I’m obsessed with following bullet journal tags on Instagram. (I wish my gel pen skills could match up to these organizational artists.) Fellow team members here at Joyous HQ can attest to how adamant I am about logging and then checking off everything we do in our project management software. In all fairness, we use Asana for project management, and when you complete a project, rainbow-spewing unicorns and narwhals may randomly streak across your screen, and who wouldn't want that?
Most of my goals are pretty short-term and easy to achieve, given the structure of my day-to-day life (take more photos, journal every day, take yoga classes twice a week, finally finish reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, etc.), but I always like to have one really big, long-term goal on my radar, and here’s why:
Studies show that the level of challenge is directly linked to how likely we are to achieve, or even exceed that goal. It may sound backward at first, but think about it for a moment: I’m way more likely to procrastinate on putting effort into something I feel is easy, or won’t take too long to do (I can always do it later, right?) than a goal where I know if I don’t keep putting in regular effort, it’ll never get done.
Case in point: last week, I ran a half marathon. When I started, I thought it was going to kill me. When I finished, I was convinced it had turned me into a superhero.
I’ve never been a runner. In fact, I’m traditionally an avoider of all forms of cardio. A couple of years ago, I downloaded one of those couch-to-5K apps on my phone, went all the way through the training program, ran a 5K race, and then promptly forgot about it as soon as it got cold. Back then, 5K was my idea of an impossible running goal.
Then I got whacked with a severe depression last year. (I talked about it a little on the blog here.) I have so many different tools I use to help preserve my mental health and then, as now, I’m happy to try anything at least once and add it to my arsenal of tools if I feel it works. So when I started seeing articles about how running can help with depression, I figured “why not?” and got out my couch-to-5K app and my sneakers.
It worked. I’m sure a lot of the credit can also go to therapy, medication and a whole host of other things I was doing, but the cardio combined with the feeling that I was accomplishing something challenging was definitely a big help. So when I finished the couch to 5K challenge, and my app asked me if I’d like to download a 5K to half-marathon training app, I figured I’d give it a go. I needed a new challenge, and it might as well be a big one!
So I kept running. When I first started, the idea of running for over two hours straight seemed impossible to me, but I tried a little more each day. One day, I suddenly realized I could run over 15K, and suddenly the 21K I needed to run a half-marathon didn’t seem so out of reach.
So here it is: photographic proof of my “impossible” half-marathon, complete with my super-flattering and fashionable CamelBak and headphones, and some guy named Larry totally crashing my photographic victory party! :P
The best thing about impossible goals is that once you’ve accomplished one, nothing’s impossible anymore. Following through on a really challenging goal really does turn you in to your own personal superhero. The impossible is addictive! I'm actually seriously considering tackling a triathalon next!
Here are my top three tips for achieving the impossible:
What "impossible" goal do you want to check off your bucket list? Share it with me in the comments below!