5 Observations About Pursuing Multiple Goals Simultaneously

New Year’s Day falls at a crummy time. It’s cold out, I’m broke from over-spending at Christmas, and worn out from all the holiday hoopla. Also, just about every blog post or article you happen across during the month of January seems to be about setting and reaching goals. It gets boring.

For me, the time to think about goals is on (or near) my birthday, which just happens to be in the spring, and since spring is a time of rebirth, new goals seem especially fitting.

A few years ago, I made a list of “by the time I’m 40″ goals. While I’m not quite there yet, that milestone is looming larger. This year, I reviewed my progress on those “by 40″ goals, and for the most part was pleasantly surprised. One of them was to be working for myself, and I’m doing that. Another was to be in a less-precarious financial position, and though there is always room for improvement, our electricity bill has been paid on time for the last few months, so I feel pretty good about progress in that area.

There is one “by 40″ goal that I’m not making the kind of progress I expected, though. I have been working to become more physically fit for several years because I plan to be the fittest I have ever been within a year. From

Not my arm, but I wish it was!

nutrition to strength to endurance, I want my body to be in tip-top shape. When I listed this as a goal I thought “That shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve never been in really great shape.” Alas, it has been harder than expected.

Over the last few years, I’ve made substantial, positive dietary changes and started running on a regular basis, so I have taken steps in the right direction. There are just more steps than I thought, so it’s time to start moving a little faster. I’m not going to bore the world with a breakdown of my work out plans for the next year. I am going to offer some observations about the ways my fitness-related goals and my business-related goals seem to be synergistic. (Ha! There’s my addition to the list of annoying, pretentious business words!)

1. Increased confidence. Feeling physically strong makes me braver when it comes to talking to people. While it may (or may not) be true that slimmer people are more successful statistically than chubbier people, the confidence I gain from feeling strong doesn’t have anything to do with looks. I think it has more to do with endorphins. Or maybe I subconsciously think that if I can run 5 miles, I can also talk to some random person about my work. If you find talking to people difficult, try working out just before you go to your next networking event or whatever. (A shower in between is recommended, of course.)

2. Success in one area encourages success in another. There was a time that I thought I needed to focus on my separate goals…well, separately. Now, I see that increasing the distance I can run at the same time I am increasing the number of words I write each day works. It’s like something clicks and everything moves forward at once. There is the danger of overwhelm with this approach, though, so keeping the idea of balance in mind as you march forward important.

3. There’s no reason to wait. No matter what you are putting off, stop putting it off. If you want to run your own business, start finding out what will be involved and make a plan. If you want to run a marathon, start looking at marathon training guides, or find a running group. There really isn’t a valid reason to not do the things you want to do. People who know me are baffled by my desire to become a runner, and there are about 200 million reasons I “can’t” be. But, last Saturday, I completed a 5K without walking – my time was terrible, I finished in the bottom 20, but I met my personal goal, and that is important.

4. Lessons learned are transferable. The challenges that you face when pursuing a goal are going to be similar, regardless of the goal. If you want to travel the world, money might be an issue. It is also an issue if you want to own a house, start a business, join a gym, or even plant a garden. Once you figure out some creative solutions to the challenges surrounding one goal, you will have an easier time when the same problems crop up as you pursue your next goal.

5. People will help you. It’s been interesting to learn how many writers are also runners. Through talking with people about writing, I’ve found lots of encouragement to run. Whether it’s through comments on blog posts, chatter on Twitter, or in-person networking events, professional contacts offer me advice, cheers, and general support in reaching my other goals. Just as you may find that your friends and family can give you guidance in your business endeavors, your colleagues will often support your personal goals.

Others have noticed how reaching one goal can spur you on to reach another. Leo Babauta says that quitting smoking was the “change that put the others in motion.”Peter Bowerman talks about how reaching a goal feels like climbing a mountain, to reach the peak, then seeing another, higher peak, and climbing to reach it, too. He calls it “peak to peak.” For me, though, striving towards multiple goals simultaneously works.

Have you experienced a snowball effect in reaching your goals? Or, do you need find success in one area before you take on another? All of the blooming and new growth outside my window (and my recent birthday) has me pondering not only new goals, but the process of achieving goals. Please share your own observations!

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