Accomplishing goals is like running a marathon

Reaching the finish line is all something we have in common. Working towards accomplishing goals and staying on top of leadership development is an ongoing race. It’s important to celebrate the wins during your leadership development journey without getting complacent or living with a fixed mindset.

I am not a runner. My brother ran cross country in high school and I distinctly remember wondering why anyone would volunteer for that type of punishment. My Dad took up running in mid-40’s and really enjoyed it. I still couldn’t relate. But, in my early 20’s I wanted to surprise my Dad at one of his 5K races and run with him.

My first question was: How do I accomplish this goal?

I knew my body was not going to tolerate running over 3 miles my first time out. I think I did one of those “couch to 5K programs” that you can find detailed on many sites. My first time out, I was able to run 5 minutes before I had to walk. I was elated. Then next time I ran little longer and then a little more and finally I was able to run the 5K! Over time, I eventually ran a marathon, but that is a blog for another day.

What does my 5k prep this have to do with development and accomplishing goals?

All of my clients set goals when we work together. They have identified ways that they want to shift and change. Once they know what they want to shift, they would really like to achieve those behavior changes as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, development takes time. Just like I couldn’t get off the couch and run a 5K, I had to take my race prep in small steps (sometimes literally). Sometimes development is hard and you take steps sideways or backwards in your progress. Sometimes you get injured or life changes and you have to adjust your plans, which can deter you from accomplishing goals.

It’s not always a straight line forward.

In leadership development we celebrate the wins!

One of the most important things to remember in leadership development, though, is to start accomplishing goals and then to celebrate the wins! I am, admittedly, very bad at doing this with my personal and professional development. I want to see the big shift and I sometimes downplay the little shifts I am making in my development. Oftentimes, we are focused on the goal.

We want to reach that goal, see how far away we are from the goal, and don’t take the time to look back and see how far we have come from where we started. I was very good at celebrating small milestones in my first running effort. If I had celebrated only when I crossed the finish line of my first 5K and didn’t celebrate the small milestones along the way, I would have quit the training. The goal seemed so far way at times. The work was hard. 

Celebrate the small wins! Celebrate the progress! Witness how far you have come in your development instead of looking at far you have to go toward your goal. It’s necessary for growth. You should be proud of the work you put in and the goals you’ve set out to accomplish. It will also motivate you to continue when the road gets tough.