Running marathons and holding onto goals that make me feel bad
How do blurry boundaries impact your goals?
Have you ever seen a picture of someone else doing something: they are smiling wide into the camera and when you looked into their happy face you felt a pang of jealousy, or a sink in your stomach from your inner critic telling you that you haven’t achieved what they have and you should? For me it is long-distance runners.
It’s absolutely tantalising to see a picture of someone you know… smiling, holding a medal for the marathon they just ran… and despite the fact that I never choose to go for a run, and I’m not entirely sure if I dislike or like running but I think – YES – I SHOULD RUN A MARATHON! Don’t get me wrong – other people’s achievements can absolutely inspire you to try something or become something – it can be a positively refreshing experience that transforms your life. The issue comes when this new goal gets added to the memory bank of things you “should” do, but haven’t, and it weighs you down with self-judgements every time you think of setting a goal.
When we set goals based on someone’s life, goal setting becomes a vanity project, or a plea for external validation – both of which will likely leave us feeling empty: If you do achieve it, it doesn’t feel as good as it looked, and if you don’t achieve it then becomes another thing to be self-critical and judgemental to hit yourself with.
(This is probably not the face of someone who wants to run a marathon).
It’s just not the way to set goals and to enjoy the journey along the way – and the journey, and the process of finding new parts to yourself, or becoming, is the whole point, isn’t it? So if we achieve the goal in a way that hurts us, we are often back at square one but maybe with a few battle scars or more toned muscles and new ways to feel bad about ourselves – so much better to invest in a loving, growth mindset along the way so when you achieve the goal you can shift into this new version of yourself with joy and fulfilment at your journey.
So what can you do about it?
Tap into your honesty: When we are not being honest with ourselves about who we are, what we are feeling and what we want and need, then we start to build goals around things that we don’t really want or need. We take on other people’s stuff - but in reality, you actually don’t want to live someone else’s life. You want to live life on your terms, but maybe you got a little lost on the way. Maybe you started picking up all these goals that aren’t really bringing you much joy because you weren’t sure what did bring you joy, or you felt obliged with things you felt you “should” be doing? Welcome to the club.
So grab a pen and paper and take a few minutes to yourself. These will help you connect deeper to the goals in your head so you can live life on your terms. If you want more prompts, tools and insights, you can sing up to my email and get them sent straight to you every Tuesday at 11am.