Goals and their limits

Goals are limited

Goals are always limited,  too often limiting. But if we let them, they can do more.

I understand that goals focus us and that’s a good thing.

Goals, running goals, life goals, are always come from what we see, know, understand. Too often they come from what we are taught or the demands and  expectations of institutions. Goals are always limited to what we can see, by what we know, by what we have been shown .

Here’s an exam1-DSCN1127ple of what I mean. When I started, my running goal was to get through the 86+ km Comrades Marathon before the cut-off time. It took my legs two years to get strong enough to run 10 km – that long partly because I thought running meant running at 4 min/km or less, mostly because I was unfit and overweight, with smoke-gunged lungs.

Less than a year later I lined up for the marathons and after just under another 10 hours,  Comrades Medal hung on my sweaty, unbelievably fulfilled chest – in way it still hangs there.

Setting a goal gave me that. But I had got a lot more.

I had got running,  got running engorged. Instead of times and records,  I ran what I could imagine: whether out for hours roaming paths and roads, sneaking in under 38 min for 10 km or getting through 100 miles.

I got running and all it brings:  sun, storms, under stars, rainbows and waterfalls, on mountain tracks and endless roads; I ran with people and alone, I loved running, talking about it and the glitter, colour and rhythms it gave to my life. I ran stress out of me and life into me. My mind cleared and I could see and understand things, life, in ways far different and literally unimaginable before I started running.

No training program, school curriculum or university course taught me that. No institution, international or local, world record holder talked about that.  They gave races, times, rules, uniforms, officials, training programs, personal bests, the science.

But I got so much more.

Sure it’s nice to achieve goals and they focus what we do. What’s better is if we are open to learning while we chase them. There’s always more to what we know and see and value.

And so ..

Later I did set one other running goal – to write a book about running and life. But I did it less for achieving a goal I could see and understand; more because I knew I would discover so much more by doing it.

So nicely, I had no idea what writing a book would allow me to see  but I knew it would be good. I got more of life and value and to run mystical miles.

2 thoughts on “Goals and their limits”

  1. Dear Paul, reading this is so inspirational and encouraging! Yes, setting goals is good but it goes beyond the setting , much deeper into really knowing how to ‘get oneself’!
    Reading your book , you set it out so effortlessly – like it flows from within ! I am so enjoying the read , its brilliant!! :)
    Who would’ve thought,that I, would really be set free by the inspiring poetical words of running – a person who previously was governed by strict boundaries!
    Thank you, you have given me a new lease on life……making it all worth while . Kudos to you friend!! :)

    1. Thank you for this comment Louise.
      The point of writing it down was to reach others and its makes all work, all the refining and simplifying worthwhile when it reaches or touches someone. I am glad for you that you are are less governed by “strict boundaries”. Great!
      Conceiving the book was effortless, writing it took a lot of work, and doing the running to get the ideas and straighten them out took, um, quite a lot of effort, and sweat and blisters :-)
      More soon … there is always more!

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