Goals Vs Dreams

Dominique Faget/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The Ultimate Achiver photo by Dominique Faget/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Goals. Most of us have them. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking dreams – those lottery fantasies that play out in your mind as escapism. I’m talking goals with real purpose behind them.

The difference is goals are dreams with a deadline.

This weekend I will set out to accomplish a big goal I set for myself in April – to run the Nike Women’s 15K. Now, I’ve been running on and off since high school cross country and have participated in a few 5K runs in the recent past, but signing up for a 15K was a big, spontaneous move. No peer pressure. Just me, alone one night with a glass of wine and an innate need to challenge myself.

I had a deadline. My question was how do I get there? As a teacher, I have shared the S.M.A.R.T. system with my students. Setting goals is easy, but achieving them requires starting with the right methodology: they must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive. Luckily I’m a natural planner, so I began by researching training programs that fit my ten week timetable and mapped workouts into each week of my calendar.


Having inspiration to keep me on track was important. I reached out to someone I follow on social media, Heather Gardner, the founder of Tribe Fitness, for insight on developing a successful training regimen. “Definitely creating a long range plan keeps me focused,” says Gardner. “Running with a crew also keeps me motivated. I consider Tribe to be my accountability partners. Many of us have similar goal races, so whether it’s training for a marathon or triathlon there are folks who need to get in the same workout on a similar day. You might consider skipping a workout for yourself, but certainly would never stand up a friend.”

You might consider skipping a workout for yourself, but certainly would never stand up a friend.

Robin Altman, founder of Radiate Coaching, echoed the need for having a plan, but noted that a personal connection to the goal is just as relevant. “The key thing about setting a goal is that it be important and meaningful to you personally, and that you’re on purpose in achieving it. The second is to create structures that help you feel a sense of joy in the process or journey itself.”

In my case I’ve balanced my solo morning runs with group fitness classes that allowed my to revel in my increasing strength and endurance. Days of rest were welcomed as they usually are in my world – with lots of food, friends and a great cocktail. And as a result the more I trained, the more I naturally enjoyed the training.

So what’s next? A half marathon? Or do I use this methodology to focus on other personal goals? Or can it be all of the above? Altman advises, “Take some time to consider what’s important about the goal for you, what will you have when you achieve it, how it will make your life better, what personal strengths and talents will you use to be successful.”

And then, like Nike says, Just Do It.