Goals: when to keep at them and when to let them go

I’m a huge fan of having a goal or multiple goals. And as my own coach – David – has taught me, the bigger and scarier the goal, the better! I’m also a massive believer in being persistent, dedicated, determined and doing things ‘all in’ with as much self-belief and courage that can be gathered along the way.

That said, I think whats more important than having goals and striving to achieve them, is having the self-awareness to know whether and when those particular goals are serving you.

So many athletes (myself included) typically pick goals/races and stick with them through anything and everything. Injury, illness, work demands, family holidays, lack of sleep and almost anything in between! We live in a society that respects this kind of dedication and ‘never say die’ attitude. Seldom are goals re-evaluated along the way and sometimes its important to take a step back and reflect rather than tumbling and fighting through life’s demands, and ups and downs to reach the elusive goal. This kind  of fighting rather than flowing can often leads to disappointment at best and burnout or long term damage at worst.

When picking goals and races its important to pick them properly, intentionally and with the process at heart (this is a whole different topic!) But even then, when you’ve chosen so carefully and mindfully, these goals like everything in life, may well change. And its ok to let go sometimes too.

Some questions you could ask yourself to help yourself on a regular basis might look like this:

  1. Does the thought of waking up every morning to train for my goal still excite me?
  2. Has anything significant changed in my life; emotionally, physically or at work? (If yes, perhaps now is a good time to re-evaluate or get an objective point of view from a friend, mentor or coach)
  3. Is the process of striving to reach my goal still serving me? Ie. Is it making me a better person? Kinder, braver, happier? Or is it making me grumpy, moody and exhausted?
  4. What would life look like without that particular goal? Or perhaps with another in its place? Imagine for a moment. If the thought of letting go is more of a relief than a big black hole then it may be time to move on.

Key takeaway: don’t stick to your goals for the sake of sticking to your goals. Stick to a process that is serving you.

Its not always the obvious things  like illness and injury that should make you re-think. Its more about constant self-awareness, striving to be kinder, stronger, healthier and happier. If these aren’t being met it may be time to rethink, be flexible, let go and move on….

Meg Mackenzie