“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
I recently checked something off my bucket list that wasn't even on my bucket list until this last year. I completed a 1/2 marathon. Honestly, it sounds almost silly. How do you complete half of something? It almost sounds like a consolation prize, like I didn't do the whole thing, I only did 1/2 of it. Of course that isn't quite true. I completed the whole thing, all 13.1 miles. Here is the thing, I didn't win, I didn't even win my age division. I'm not even that passionate about running. I once hated running but I've made friends with running because it helps me in other areas of my life. So, I did it, I completed a 1/2 marathon taking a modest 7th place in my age division out of 34 and 48th overall out of 230. I set a goal of finishing a 1/2 in 2019 sometime last fall. I don't really remember when I set the goal.
To some this might be a huge goal, but it wasn't the first running goal I set. My first goal was to run a mile...I thought that would be enough. I accomplished that goal and set a new goal to run 5 days a week and get up to three miles (a 5k). I did that. As time went on my goals grew little by little. Some were time goals. I had a goal of running a mile in under 7 minutes and I did that last year. I have a new goal, I want to beat 6:39 (my current mile record) and run under 6 minutes. That's an aggressive goal for me at age 45, but I think I can get there. As time went on my running grew stronger and my goals grew marginally larger. I'm probably never going to win a 1/2 or any race of any real importance, but who knows. What's my point? Let me explain.
Some of my professional life has been spent in an atmosphere that pushed big goals, huge goals, even "God sized goals." While I can surely appreciate the intent behind that approach, it never really worked for me. Maybe it's a personality thing, but I bet there are other people with my personality. I had a hard time reaching these giant goals and often felt like a failure. In fact, I was often told that even if not in so many words. Let's be honest, I did fail to reach a lot of those goals. I still set goals, but I do it different and maybe this will help you.
I set reachable goals. Goals that take work, require effort, discipline, and will stretch me, but they aren't usually GIANT goals. They are goals where I can see the path to completion. I can see how those goals could be accomplished or at least I can see a general idea of how I can reach those goals. That's what I did with my running and I have increasingly begun to do this with other areas of my life. Honestly, in some ways I've been doing it for much of my life. Setting a goal to run one mile eventually and somewhat unintentionally led to me running a 1/2 marathon. Setting a goal to simply complete a half marathon led to me performing at a much higher level than I thought possible. I thought I would average 10 minute miles and I averaged 8:36. I haven't set a new goal for a marathon, that still seems like a huge goal for me. I am considering it. I am thinking about whether that really helps me with other physical fitness goals in my life and whether or not I want to put in the training. That said, I have almost certainly not run my last 1/2.
What is your next goal? What modest goal can you strive for in your spiritual life, in your physical fitness life, in your vocation where you can see the path on how to get there? Don't wait, set a modest goal today and maybe it will lead to something unimaginable down the road.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.