Achieving your goals – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Following on from our previous post on the importance of setting goals, we now want to take a closer look at how to do this effectively to increase your chances of achieving them.

As touched upon in the link on our last post, one of the surefire ways to improve your chances of achieving any goal is to first of all write it down. Once you have taken this first step you have made yourself accountable. From there you can plan backwards on what is needed to see this aspiration through to reality.


A well-known study undertaken by Harvard University in 1979 found that only 3% of their graduates had clearly defined written goals. A follow-up study 10 years later showed that those who had written down their goals were 10 times more successful than the other 97% who did not.


Since this time, writing down and planning how to achieve goals has been encouraged by motivational speakers, educators, employers, therapists and pretty much anyone else who has a role in driving others to succeed.


As with many things in life, those things that are the most desirable, or the greatest achievements are the ones that take the longest to get. Many people in the past will have given up on the pursuit of a specific long-term goal because it simply became too much effort or was taking more time than expected. Those who do achieve their goals will have likely put in an awful amount of effort along the way, overcoming many obstacles and persisting through times when it seemed that the goal was becoming unattainable.


Long-term goals are essential in driving us forward and giving us a sense of purpose. With a concrete plan to achieve these goals over the coming months and years, it will be easier to stay on track by having a roadmap to refer back to. If this is broken down into smaller, more manageable targets, the huge, seemingly impossible task soon becomes a bunch of smaller, more workable short-term goals.


An increasingly popular long-term goal / item on bucket lists across the world is the achievement of a huge feat of human endurance, running a marathon. With the annual Dublin 26.2 miler rolling into town this weekend, we thought it might be useful to illustrate how a goal that seems beyond the reach of many can be achieved by writing it down and having a plan.


Following an 8 step process that we use here at C3 Marketing, we will show how even the most sedentary of people might prepare for their first marathon:


Step 1 – GOAL – Decide exactly what you want to achieve and write it down.

Seems obvious right, but as previously mentioned, this very rarely happens. By completing this first part you have joined the small percentage of people that have the greatest chance of achieving their goal.


Goal: Complete the Dublin Marathon


This can be as succinct as the above or have more to it i.e. complete the Dublin Marathon in under 4 hours. As we are setting this goal for a first-timer, it would be wise to make simply completing the marathon the objective here. Once the first marathon is out of the way, a new goal can be created for next year that includes a target time.


Step 2 – WHY – Write down your reasons for wanting to achieve this.


As we said, achieving this goal is going to take a lot of time, persistence and hard work. On those cold, rainy mornings in the middle of winter, it may be useful to remind yourself why you set this goal in the first place.


Why: Become healthier – prove to myself I am capable – raise money for charity – impress my friends and colleagues – make my kids proud.


Step 3 – WHEN – Set a deadline for your goal.


By holding yourself accountable to this deadline, it will help you keep making progress towards it every day and not let it get put on the back burner because something more important came up. Fortunately, the Dublin Marathon takes place on a set day each year and there is nothing you can do to change that deadline.


When: 30th October 2016


Step 4 – CHALLENGE – Determine the obstacles that you will have to overcome.


By understanding where you might (hypothetically) fall down, you will be able to take proactive action to avoid this, rather than waiting until it does occur and seriously delay or even stop your preparations dead in their tracks.


Challenge: I haven’t exercised regularly for years – my work / home life is so hectic that I won’t have time to do the right amount of training – I don’t have the right kit – I’m a heavy smoker, my lungs will never hold out for 26.2 miles – I am overweight – I will struggle to motivate myself – I don’t know the first thing about endurance training – my diet is terrible – I heard that you hit a wall after 20 miles and it seems impossible to go on.


Step 5 –  LEARN – determine the additional knowledge, skills and abilities you will need to reach your goal.


To achieve something that you have never achieved before, you must become someone you have never been before. You must develop knowledge and skills that you do not have.


Learn: How to run correctly with minimal effort – techniques to help you mentally push through the pain barrier – hydration and fueling strategies throughout the race – How to find the motivation to get out and go for a run.


Step 6 – HELP – Determine what external help you will need in order to achieve your goal.


It will be much harder if you try to run your first marathon without the help of others. Big goals can require the co-operation of lots of people.


Help: This may be your partner who will need to be more understanding of your new exercise regime – a running specialist who will help you find the correct footwear – a running club who will provide the advice, motivation and support needed to get you to your goal – running forums with people in a similar situation – a fitness tracker that will help measure progress.



Step 7 – PLAN – Using the information that you have just written down, organise these tasks into a plan based on priority and sequence.


This part encompasses all of the previous steps and works out how you will overcome those challenges with a timeline of sub-goals.



Get correct running shoes – start eating a healthier diet – research and construct a training programme – learn about fitness and staying injury free – start running – build up endurance – arrange adequate time to run – learn about hydration and fueling – practice hydration and fueling – join a running club – set sub-deadlines for distances to achieve (10 miles / half marathon 3 months before marathon etc).



Step 8 – ACTION – Do something each day that moves you towards achievement of your goal.

Once you begin, never stop. Develop the momentum principle of success. This principle simply says that once you are in motion, it is much easier for you to stay in motion than if you come to a complete halt and try to start again. This momentum principle is one of the great success secrets practiced by high-achievers all over the world. Once they begin working on a goal, they never stop until they achieve it.


Action: Start putting each aspect of your plan into action – don’t stop until your goal is achieved.



So there you have it, break your goal out into a complete plan to give you the best chance of success. Just remember, it may take a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears to get you over that finishing line but if you stick at it and don’t give up; even when you hit the wall and completion seems impossible; anything is achievable in the end.

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