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“If a goal isn’t connected to a deep ‘why,’ it may be good but it usually isn’t best.” Stephen Covey

I hereby truly and solemnly declare and affirm that I want to run a marathon.

That is a true statement. Deep down I want to be able to say that I ran a marathon, that I did it in less than 4 hours, and here’s my medal on display in the cabinet with my bronze swimming certificate.*

Yes, as far as running a marathon is concerned, I really want to run one. But I am not prepared to make the effort.

The reason I am not prepared to is because such a goal is often a dream that is planted by the achievements of others, by a desire to demonstrate a high level of physical fitness when such a level is not necessary for achievement of any of my other goals, and ultimately by ego – I want to brag about it.

Let me emphasise – they would be MY motives, and if you want to do a marathon for truly personal, deeply emotional reasons you go ahead and do it, and good luck. I am not here to tread on your dreams.

The point I am making is that achieving someone else’s goals, or seeking achievement for reasons of ego, probably won’t result in the deep happiness that comes from achievement pursued for truly personal, deeply impassioned motives. On the other hand, if achieving those goals is a means to a better end and not ends in themselves, the passion for those longer-term outcomes will help you achieve the smaller steps on the road to that greater success, the success you really seek. And let’s face it, you’ll be fitter and better able to enjoy that success (provided you haven’t crocked yourself in the process). And the greater success will be the one that serves your values system.

Seeing the goal as something which serves your values is the essence of values-based time management. Selecting a goal that doesn’t dovetail your values system is futile – you won’t do it, or you will detest every moment spent in striving for it, and UN-happiness is not a normal pursuit, is it? (Masochists excepted.)

I suspect that a 10k running ability is ample for most of us who don’t enjoy sport for sport’s sake. If you can run 6 miles in an hour and have a sensible diet you’ll be fit enough for most professions. If you want to get fit enough to achieve your other goals, decide on a sensible level of fitness, pursue that, and spend the rest of the time on the actual objective.

Spend as much of your time as you can on getting the result you seek, and a sensible-but-lesser proportion of time on the ‘side-issues’ that serve that objective. Plan your time so that you maximise the likelihood of achieving the (your) Main Thing, without spending too much time on achieving side-goals that will serve the greater objective but aren’t goals in themselves.

It’s a fine balancing act and using a suitable, personal planning system will help. In that, you put your Mission and Goals to the fore, and plan to spend as much of your time not on ‘shoulds’ or ‘coulds’, but on MUSTS. The other two can be fitted in around them.

And be careful that those ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’ don’t become excuses for procrastination! (Next week’s subject.)

*I don’t have one of those, either. I am not a fish and if I am going two miles on water, I know people with boats.


For more on Values-Based Time Management, go here, or go to the Books page on this site