My Mom made me run cross country at Cary High School. I wasn't the fastest but I'm so glad she made me do it. Thanks, Mom.
Junior year I enjoyed running so much I ran track too. I still love running to this day and have even run a few half marathons and one full (not recommended). I also love running since there are no ridiculous obstacles like hurdles to block my path, just the open trail and the track ahead.
Never understood hurdles. Running not hard enough for ya? Hurdlers say Let's add an obstacle every 10 yards!
I guess they need a challenge? Or maybe they see the hurdle as an athletically poetic metaphor for life?
While I don't love hurdles on the track, I see the hurdle as a nice metaphor for goal setting.
It was March 2014 and I had pretty much oozed into my chair at work. Hadn't worked out much if at all. Whatever New Year's resolutions I had set for improving fitness had faded away a couple months earlier.
So I decided to climb Mount Everest.
One of the wellness guys in my office said that the simple act of taking the stairs was a great way to get your heart rate up and improve fitness. But there was a problem. Starting up a habit like taking the stairs - to the 10th floor - wasn't just going to happen like a big bang.
Nope, I wasn't internally motivated to do it just because it was healthy. Maybe you can relate.
I needed to shape a goal that was fun and memorable and even inspiring. Technically speaking, I needed to quantify my goal. That's the "M" in S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. I needed to make my stair-stepping goal Measurable.
When you have to measure something what do you turn to? A ruler, of course. So I grabbed my ruler and measured one step in the stairwell. After a few calculations I figured I would need to climb 49,764 stairs to say I climbed Mount Everest.
OK, the equivalent of Mount Everest... without the snow... and without deadly freezing temperatures. The point is this: I found something that motivated me, and who cares if it's silly.
On Dec 31, 2014 I reached the summit - the locked door of the 13th-floor roof access inside an endless stairwell, echoing my gasps for air. But I did it.
Like many goals, it wasn't so much the last step that was so glorious, although it was a good feeling. It was looking back on my spreadsheet seeing all those days when I climbed 400 steps or more.
I had achieved my goal to improve my overall fitness.
What's your Mount Everest?
Share your wild goal for 2021. Or share whatever your raw goal is ("I want to lose weight") and I'll be happy to help you craft your own "Mount Everest" ... "I will lose the equivalent of 25 Big Macs" perhaps?
Next post: Setting Reasonable Goals, which kind of sounds like the opposite of this post. You'll have to read and see for yourself.
Mark B. Anderson
Tutor & Founder, Strength in Numbers Tutoring
Mark B. Anderson