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What side of the river are you on?
Creative Commons License photo credit: WTL photos

Setting goals is one of the most powerful things that you can do as an individual looking to reach a new level of performance, be that on a personal or physical level.  But setting goals isn’t always the only way. Leading bloggers like Leo at Zen Habits and Seth Godin on his regular blog have recently brought their cognitive powers to bear on “goals”, and I want to explore that concept from the perspective of endurance athletics and our focus on lifestyle design here at the ELD Blog. Student first, teacher second…so let’s see what we can learn!

So first, over on Zen Habits in his post entitled “the best goal is no goal,” Leo talks about about not setting goals.  Instead, he suggestes living more passionately and focusing on the now…exactly where you are…and making the most of that. I think that’s a very powerful message, and it strikes me as one that is also somewhat advanced.

Case in point, even though I train and race triathlons and marathons just like many of you, I haven’t followed a training plan in years.  Instead, I use my experience to sync my daily schedule with my goals. This allows me to dial in a workout that both builds my fitness and is fun for me to do.  So, I benefit from that because I’m a more experienced athlete and coach than the average bear.  But, I still have goals.

I think that the type of no goals that Leo is talking about is something that we can all do in various spaces of our life.  I think his primary motivation, and I could be wrong, is that too many people spend a lot of time creating and managing lists of goals and things to do, and that management time sucks the life out of the desire to do things and also sucks your ability as well.

I suffer from the problem myself, and am working towards a much simpler management system. Because the truth is clear: You simply cannot do all the things you need to do if you’re spending your time managing the things that you need to do. Release yourself from this vicious cycle and instead focus your energy on what you can do with what you’ve got!

On the flip side, Seth Goden in the “Problem with Unlimited” talked a little bit about setting goals and what that meant in terms of limits.  So for example, his point was if you said you can only — if <Garbled> maxes out at 1,000 pounds for a bench press, then the odds of someone hitting that limit are pretty high because it gives them a goal to aim for and they can work towards it.  So, from Seth’s perspective, goals are more easily attained when they are defined.

To extrapolate this then, for endurance sports, just setting a goal is powerful because the odds of you reaching it are much higher now that you’ve actually physically stated it. It is worth considering that in Seth’s case he’s talking about external goals being set and achieved as opposed to intrinsic or internal goals. If you can have a defined goal and one that is perhaps even public, the odds of you hitting that goal are much higher than if you had not.

I think that the truly tough conversation is to define whether or not you are setting the right goals? Are you setting challenging goals that are really going to push you to achieve your limits? Are you in charge of achieving these goals or is your success dependent upon others?

Whether or not you subscribe to the “no goals” or “goals as new limits” approach to managing your progress, we are all on that same path of trying to find new means of having a breakthrough performance — whether it’s on the playing field, in the workplace, or at home. At the end of the day, the approach that most resonates with you will ultimately be the most effective.

So which are you:  No Goals or Goals Are New Limits to be Reached? Tell me in teh comments below!

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Make More Finish Lines

Posted by Patrick McCrann Aug 20, 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: basictheory

Have you ever watched a major event like a marathon or Ironman? Not the biased television coverage, but the real deal form the sidelines? It’s powerful to watch thousands of people from all walks of life on a similar journey to complete a physical challenge in one massive attempt to reach the finish.

Out on the course it can be quiet, sometimes quite lonely. I personally prefer to be out on the course. I think it’s inspiring and educational to watch people perform and execute when they aren’t aware of being watched. When they are still fresh and early in their day and have countless options. This is where the nature of their finish is created, far from any finish line.

Have you watched the same events from the finish line?

It’s a tale of two (different) races. Hundreds if not thousands of screaming fans. Signs, banners, lights and music. A steady stream of competitors becoming finishers, hustling down the finishing straight despite hours of suffering. People are transformed, replacing grimaces with smiles. Despite incredible fatigue most raise their arms while others muster a small victory dance or other celebration.

Regardless of the time on the clock, each of these people have successfully complete what they set out to do…and the fans, spectators, and loved ones are there to mark the occasion.

The finish line experience is one of the main reasons people keep coming back. They profess to love the toil of training, the ardor or early morning sessions, the daily rush of endorphins. But nothing is more rewarding than the sensory overload experience that is a race finish line. If you’ve ever completed such an event, you’ll most likely have those memories etched into your brain, into your being.

I think we need more finish lines. Not the massive celebratory ones from races (but that would be funny!), but ones where we can still throw our hands up to the sky and mark the end of a journey.

In a world full of things to do / read / learn / say / process, we are almost entirely focused on the act of doing instead of the state of being done. We are building a culture where action is rewarded, not completion. At some point the emphasis will shift from what we have accomplished to simply being rewarded for doing.

I can’t think of faster way to personal, professional, or social mediocrity.

Here’s how you can make your own finish lines happen:

  • Decide upon a final date to be done. Deadlines make things real.
  • Start with the end in mind. Know what “done” is so when you get there, you can celebrate.
  • Practice celebrating. Pick small achievable milestones. Add up the milestones and soon you’ll be at the finish line. Success is addictive; start training yourself early.
  • Work with others. Solo-preneurs are more likely (thank teams or groups) to just keep going. Even if you don’t have colleagues, share your work with others in your life so they can help you reflect on what you’ve done.
  • Consider scheduled finish lines. Some industries operate by quarter, others on an annual basis. Pick your own cycle and schedule time to step away from the WHAT and focus on the HOW.

Starting something is the hardest step, but it gets easier the better you become at finishing. Build success into how you manage your work / life / play and you’ll find that it’s not only more fun…it’s easier. I’m available for hi-fives and words of encouragement along your journey on Facebook. If you need someone to be at your finishline, just contact me.

Good luck!

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underneath a star
Creative Commons License photo credit: jaeWALK

Greetings from my summertime weekend base of Cape Cod, MA. This is our hot weather escape, where we crash with my outlaws (the in-laws) for almost every weekend of the summer. It’s a great chance to unplug from the hustle of everyday and tune into the things that really matter: the kids, our family, the kids, relaxing, and above all else…the kids.

It’s also a great chance for me to reflect on the business side of things, as I typically am not working overdrive after a pretty solid week. This post is part of a series, a weekend Sunday Store Update Series, where I write about the small business side of ELD.

Book CoverMost of this summer has been dedicated to the upcoming launch of Train to Live, Live to Train: An Insider’s Guide to Building the Ultimate Fitness Lifestyle. The hard copy is done and is being converted into a nice PDF format. The audio case studies are done. I am working on the launch site and a few other videos to put into the higher-value packages. Many of you have pre-ordered the book (thank you!) and I promise I am working to get it to you as soon as possible…thanks for your support!

Ten Hours A Week SystemStrangely enough, this past week saw a massive uptick in the number of copies of my Competitive Triathlon in 10Hours A Week product. Even though it’s August, it appears quite a few of you are already beginning to think ahead to the winter and next season…good for you! The 10Hours System is a great way to build out a functional training cycle that instantly fits your life and keeps you focused on the other things (like kids!) that really matter. Remember that if you are buying the kindle edition you’ll want to email us to get the download too as the planning spreadsheets and free bonuses aren’t included from Amazon.

2008  CalendarI am considering a four-week long season planning session for September, the $100 Season Planning Group.

It would be a 28-day exercise where a small group of you work with me to walk through the 10Hours concepts and build out a full season for 2011. Each week will feature a conference call by me as well as a set of “tasks” to complete. You’ll be able to interact with the other members of the group and, by the end of month, you’ll each have a complete roadmap for 2011 with some really solid ideas on how to best manage your time for maximum fitness.

If you are interested in this concept, please post a comment below or leave a message on Facebook. If we have enough interested folks I’ll put up a registration slot later this month…I’ll try to keep the first class pretty small so I can be sure to meet all of your needs.

As always, thanks again for tuning in and have a great weekend!

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Patrick McCrann

Patrick McCrann

Member since: Jan 18, 2008

Marathon training information and insights from elite coach Patrick McCrann. Find your ultimate Marathon Training Schedule online here:

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