I was asked by my boss the other day about my career goals. It's funny but the only goal I have had, is that my work should be enjoyable. Beyond that power, authority, control, recognition, money, raises, product successes, etc... might all be nice but enjoying my work is what I have always cared the most about and I figured everything else would take care of itself.
I have been blessed to work with a lot of very smart folks at a variety of very good companies (didn't always realize it at the time) who helped me keep things in perspective. I learned early in my career that if you maintain your engineering skills you will have work and you if you keep adding skills you will enjoy the job. Why if you maintain skills will the work be enjoyable, real simple, because you are continuing to learn.
So as I think about my running goals for next year, I first need to look back on this year, have I continued to gain skills, do I still find it enjoyable, am I keeping my perspective. Have I learned something? The answer is yes.
If you go back to the marathons and races I ran from 97 through 2006, I think I had failed to add enough new skills, I wasn't maintaining my old ones and frankly I had lost perspective and raced for fear of the what if I stopped? In Seven Habits lingo, they call it "Sharpening the Saw" and I wasn't doing it. I had let injuries, job changes, boredom and a variety of other things distract me. Before 97, I was motivated by another runner, we kept challenging each other and when he drifted away from running I failed to reconnect with others to help me through those distractions.
Last year, I discovered the blogosphere, which led me to create this blog for myself. I originally never intended to share my blog with anyone outside of my wife. I was writing it for me as a place to remember the past as I was starting to get past events mixed up (you know things like back in 96 it was hot at TCM and I threw up afterward or it was 97, that type of thing) so this become my own personal historical record of my running. I still don't share my blog with friends, co-workers or with anyone that is a non-runner by choice as I don't really won't to expose this side of myself.
This year thanks to discovering the ultra community and a lot of encouragement from my wife, a dream of mine started to take place. I always wanted to run longer to see if I could but lacked the courage to try. What if I failed? As I started discovering many of the ultra folks blogs, I realized that the Penguin had it right, it's the courage to start that you need. Failure is simply something that you create for yourself. Take this year's Superior, many runners started but not all finished. Did those that didn't make the "finish line" that day fail, I say absolutely not. I read your blogs as you trained, worked, worried, raced, dealt with injuries, illnesses, life events and yet all of you still had the courage to start and to set a goal that you knew was a stretch. All of your work and the effort you extended could never be called a failure, so thank you to all of you for helping me to discover the courage to try.
I read something on Matt's blog that prompted me to rethink my own blog, he said he started his blog to hold himself accountable. What an interesting idea, I had never thought to use mine for that purpose at least not at a conscious level. I state what I am doing, thinking, planning, struggling with and even irritated with (my last post covered that :-), sorry about that). I posted my goals to remind myself, not to hold myself accountable, this year, I think I will do both. I will set goals beyond just running a race, I will have the courage to say what I want to do, what I expect to do and I will quit being embarrassed about how slow I have become and start challenging myself to work harder to change that.
At work, we set stretch goals, not because they are impossible but because they are hard. These goals help us to keep our perspective, to stay focused on the horizon and to keep trying.
So as I think about next year, I will be ruling out failure as that is not a condition that I will let happen. As long as I keep moving toward goals, keep adding skills, maintain my focus and allow you all to keep me learning, I can't fail and if I do all of these things then I am sure my running will be enjoyable and I will succeed. So if anyone sees me getting off track please hold me accountable and remind me to pull my head up and refocus on the horizon................