Setting goals to inspire you … or scare you!

Recently I came across a blog post that presents a checklist of some pretty darn thought-provoking tips about setting goals that will really inspire you.  It so happens that the focus of this blog, Mark B’s Big Adventures on Average Talent, is running, as were these tips for goal-setting.  However, it dawns on me that they would be useful in setting goals for all sorts of activities.

It might be an activity that you have been engaged in for many years, but want to try taking to the next level.  Maybe writing or quilting, or skiing.  Or it might be an activity that you’ve been considering trying for some time now but haven’t pushed yourself to take the leap, like painting or pottery, or snowboarding or golf.  Or public speaking!

Think about an activity you’re already fully engaged in or one that you’ve been thinking about trying out for a long time now.  Then think about setting a goal to start a new project or challenge related to that activity and see if Mark B’s checklist works for you.  I’ve altered some of the descriptors to be generic rather than focusing on running.

#1  Does your goal excite you? If it doesn’t turn your crank, you should choose another project.  You’re not likely to get far if you’re not excited about it.  Besides, why bother!

#2  Are you scared of your goal?  In other words, does it take you out of your comfort zone.  It should.

#3  Is there a risk that you may not make it?  The answer to this should be a resounding YES!! If it will be easy to achieve then it isn’t an ambitious goal that will excite and motivate you to reach a higher level.

#4  Do you have a chance to achieve it?  If it is unobtainable then setting the target isn’t an inspirational challenge, it’s just a dream.

#5  Might other runners/quilters/writers/etc. in your community join in? A shared challenge can transform the experience, providing mutual encouragement and support.

#6  Does it fit with your values? This may or may not apply, but, for example, if you are heavily committed to sustainability or supporting certain charities, you may be able to tailor your goal to fit within that context.

#7  If something more inspiring comes along, don’t be afraid to change your target! Your target is for you only.  You can always change it to something that comes up that seems more of more immediate value or interest.  You can come back to your original goal later!

I can imagine this checklist working for me if, say, I’ve always wanted to write a novel but had hesitated to take that all-important first step – put bum in seat.  Regardless of the excuses I gave myself, #2 and #3 would undoubtedly be high on the list of why I really hadn’t made that start.  The same could be said about starting nearly any creative or physical activity that presents a new challenge.  And yet trying new things is what makes life interesting … and has the potential to provide so much personal satisfaction.  Those are the new challenges we should embrace, even if #2 and #3 loom large.  Maybe especially if #2 and #3 loom large.

Since the original focus of this interesting checklist is running – and since I’ve set quite a few running goals for myself since 2010, I’ll start by practicing using these tips for goal-setting with my own running goals.  Since I just turned 76 (Gasp) and I was never a fast runner, just a passionate one, I need to keep #4 in mind – Do you have a chance to achieve it.  For example, when I read about a fellow blogger’s goal a year or two ago to run 1000 miles in a year, that turned my crank.  That’s my idea of an inspirational goal.  However, once I calculated the reality that this translated into about 20 miles a week, every week for an entire year, and once I factored in my arthritic hip that doesn’t always cooperate with my plan to go for a run, I realized that I didn’t have a chance of achieving it, even when some of the running is walking.  So, still inspired by the idea, I found out about the Virtual Conqueror Challenge and am now on my second challenge, currently making my way – virtually – around 800 kms (500 miles) of the North Coast of Scotland.  Small potatoes for many, but it excites me every time I add another 5 km into my Challenger app.


Now let’s move to a potential challenge to beat all challenges, Everesting. I had never heard of Everesting until I came across Mark B’s blog.  He chose it as a personal challenge.  I. Have. No. Words.  Everesting – which according to the definition in Wikipedia is for cyclists, not runners – is an activity in which a cyclist/runner ascends and descends a given hill multiple times in order to match the elevation of Mt. Everest, 8848 meters. (I include a picture of a cyclist attempting this because, of course, there are no pictures of runners doing so!)


To put that in perspective, for those of you who know my hometown of Fredericton, Fredericton is in fact built on a hill.  This is a hill most of us consider to be pretty steep, as shown in this picture, which shows my university stretching up the hill.


So … by my rough calculations, in going straight up Regent Street from Dundonald to Prospect, you cover approximately 2 kms of road distance, with an elevation gain of approximately 100 meters.  So, if you wanted to complete an Everesting in Fredericton as a runner (or as a cyclist) you would have to run (or cycle) up and down Regent Street 88.5 times to complete an ascent of 8848 meters!!  Oh yes, and I forgot to add, you’re supposed to do it without sleeping in between; it’s a contiguous run!  Of course, few runners I know, even the very best young ones, can run up and down Regent Street more than twice anyway.  Can you imagine what your legs feel like after the first two descents, never mind your legs and lungs on the ascent?  Who thinks of these things?  This goal would fail on #4 right off the bat; for most mortals it is unattainable, although apparently not for blogger Mark B!  See how useful this checklist is?!  That goal would fail quickly and you could move on to another idea. 🙂

Personally, I like all the tips in Mark’s checklist.  I think it makes a difference to have something that excites you and that takes you out of your comfort zone, to boldly go where you’ve never gone before!  It adds something to your day-to-day life.  Thinking about what your next new challenge might be is fun.  The planning and execution is often fun and sometimes a little bit scary.  But a successful completion is oh, so rewarding.  What new challenge are you thinking of for yourself?  Does this checklist help you decide?

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21 Responses to Setting goals to inspire you … or scare you!

  1. dfolstad58 says:

    It’s just an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech – It is often referred to as encouragement not to fear failure.

  2. dfolstad58 says:

    Loving this list. Embrace failure I encourage otherwise there is no triumph. Have you read Theodore Roosevelt’s _It’s not the Critic who counts.
    I hope 2022 will be a year you amaze yourself!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, we miss out on so much if we aren’t willing to take risks. I haven’t read this book; thanks for the tip, I’ll have to look for it. Amaze myself, eh? We’ll have to see about that! 😊

  3. jane tims says:

    I remember the days when I used to walk up Regent and thought my heart would leap to the sidewalk. Run up and down so many times in the same day!!!!????? Guess not.

  4. Wynne Leon says:

    What an interesting set of questions and I love how you put them to the test with your thinking and examples. The Everesting is interesting — although I’ve never heard about anyone climbing Mt Everest without sleeping so perhaps a modification is in order?

    I can’t wait to hear (and be inspired by) all that you will do with these questions as your guide!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. I can’t imagine doing a tiny fraction of the Everesting challenge, with or without sleep included! And now it sounds like you’re expecting that I have more than one project on the go that takes me out of my comfort zone. Hmm, I’ll have to think about that!

  5. A timely post, Jane. As it happens, I came up with four goals, two of which I had been deferring for some time, but now it feels right for 2022. I’ll be blogging more about it on Thursday, but yes, the tips are great. And Everesting? No, never would I even want to try, but I admire those who want to take this on.

  6. Inkplume says:

    I’m exhausted just reading about those running and cycling challenges! The list is a great way to meet those and other goals, though. Thanks!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. I know what you mean. After my husband read it he asked how many times he’d have to go up and down our stairs to complete an Everesting! Trying to write something challenging is a lot less physically exhausting, although perhaps no less mentally exhausting.

  7. LA says:

    This is an excellent checklist for attaining a goal!! Love the analytic thought process.

  8. I have no doubt that you will complete that virtual challenge and I’m waiting weekly for more of the trip!!! Go get it girl!!!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for your vote of confidence, Rita. So far I’ve gotten 32% of the way around the route, with bleak but compelling landscapes. Very bleak. I’ll start saving a few of the views and do a post when there’s a bit of variety. Meanwhile, I’m having lots of fun with it.

  9. Mark says:

    This has made my day! Thanks for reading and glad you found the ideas useful. I think being scared of something or of failing stops so many of us trying things, and I like to think taking of big running challenges has made me braver in my life in general.
    Everesting was by far the biggest thing I had tried and I really thought it was likely I could fail. But it turned our to be an amazing experience and I am so glad I went for it.
    Hopefully everyone can chase after their own ‘Everest’ of something that inspires and challenges them – I love how everyone’s ideas of what they want to do is so different, but the idea of challenging ourselves is the same.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Mark, I loved your posts to date and look forward to many more. It’s hard for anyone who’s tried (and completed!!!) an Everesting not to be inspiring! You make a great point in your comment: everyone should think of chasing their own ‘Everest’ of something that inspires and challenges them. Thanks and keep posting – and running!

  10. Lots of useful tips! I will add another one, borrowed from Oliver Burkerman, who was recently interviewed on the radio show “On Being.” What are you going to give up so that you have the time to achieve your goal? There are only so many hours in a day, and most of us have days that are already crammed full. You can’t do it all, and you will have to pick and choose. Also, how pretty Fredericton is! Sorry to say I have never been there, even though it’s just over the border.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Laurie, that is a very, very good addition to the list. It should be #8, or maybe even replace #7. Thanks. And you’re right, we live in a beautiful place, as do you!

  11. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Thanks for the incentive to think a little more about my goals and just maybe push myself outside my comfort zone.

  12. Ok, now you have me thinking about last years goals which were to increase my walking to 20km per week and drop my golf handicap by 2 strokes, both of which I achieved. Now what about this year?
    Golf is my passion during the summer and again this year I want to lower my handicap by 2 strokes which of course becomes progressively more difficult but I don’t think I have reached my peak yet. I will continue my walking but not sure if I can increase that distance but tentatively will think about 25km per week. I also have a goal of reading 100 books a year and like to mix it up with fiction and non fiction so will maintain that.
    But I feel I need something that stretches me a little more so need to think on it for a bit, maybe becoming a blogger/writer?
    Thanks for the nudge,

    • Jane Fritz says:

      It doesn’t sound like you need much nudging, Wayne. That’s already an impressive list of goals. You could think of writing book reviews for your blog, for the best of all those books! Or maybe just an annual roundup of your 5 or 10 favourites of the year. I’d be interested.

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