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Thinking about Goals.

6 December 2016

As I think over my goals of the past year, I hit almost all of them. I ran another marathon faster than the year before. I completed an Olympic triathlon. I set a sub-two hour personal record in the half-marathon. I ran a 10-miler in under 90 minutes. 2016 was, pretty objectively, the best fitness year of my life. Even though I had some real “setbacks” in races when I couldn’t perform in the heat and humidity.

I put setbacks in quotes because I didn’t actually fail at anything. I finished all my races. I just had to walk some. That happened in three races, two half-marathons (one a brutal trail), and a 10k. I don’t like having walked, but that’s where I was at the time. I’m allowed to miss my mark. Especially when I know precisely why it happened.

So I hit my fitness goals and made progress and learned a lot of things about who I am and what I can (and can’t) do. But it occurs to me that in the past year, all my goals were about fitness. I didn’t really set any career goals. I didn’t set any personal goals. I just wanted to putter along.

Puttering along is ok. I don’t need to be quivering with ambition every moment. I don’t need to be always stepping up and never pausing. But I don’t need to be in that state to be setting and accomplishing goals. And I certainly did accomplish things professionally this year. I had three or four papers accepted. I lectured in Italy and Canada. I got a nice little raise. But I haven’t felt productive.

I’m thinking about my goals for 2017. I don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”. I think they’re a little silly. But I do like to take the new year and think about what would make it feel like a successful one. I’ve set my major fitness goals. A marathon, a half-Ironman, and 100 miles a month running through the summer to maintain my heat fitness.
But I don’t know what to do about career, personal, or fitness goals.

Should I pick the novel I’m writing back up? Finish my symphony? I have unfinished things that could use attention. Should I aim for a promotion? Another grant? Three papers? I have official “goals” from my actual performance evaluation but they don’t interest me much, or inspire me. I’ve been meeting with other parts of the institution to inspire more interesting collaborations.

I have time before January to decide, and there’s nothing magical for me about January 1 being a start date. But it does feel clean. So I need to think about things. What do I expect from myself this year? What am I going to take on?


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