General Question

La_chica_gomela's avatar

If your goal becomes somewhat unrealistic, is it better to scrap it and set a smaller one, or to keep reaching for it?

Asked by La_chica_gomela (12537points) June 8th, 2009

I’ve set a mileage-based fitness goal for myself this year, and because of a few days that turned into a week into a few weeks into almost a month (you know how it is), I’m a little behind on it. I’ve realized that it’s probably just not going to happen unless I push so hard that there’s a good chance of injuring my body, which I obviously want to avoid. Achieving it is still a possibility, it’s just not likely.

Is it better to just do the best I can, still try for it, but be realistic about it, and try again next year if I don’t make it, or is it better to re-evaluate, and set a smaller, more realistic goal for this year, in light of the situation?

What are your thoughts?

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11 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

You should strive and do the best you can and not reset your goal. I say this because there will ALWAYS be some type of distraction or event, some excuse for why resetting and making an easier goal is better. So you can choose to either keep letting this cycle happen, or to not fall for it this time and keep your eye on the original prize.

Yes, don’t hurt yourself, there’s no benefit in that. But your elevated goal may motivate you to get some mileage in over the weekends when you would have otherwise been OK with not doing activity had you reset your goal.

And a thought about “the year” in general – who cares! Why would it matter if you can’t finish your goal in the remaining time this year? It’s a fitness and health goal, these take more time and dedication. For that reason alone, I cannot support the thought of making your goal easier simply cause life gets in the way. Life has a habit of doing this, so I figure it’s better to use this time to gain the experience of not changing your goals when life comes a-knockin’.

hearkat's avatar

As for your particular situation, it depends on variables which you haven’t detailed yet.

In general, when you are setting the big long-term goal, it is good to also set smaller ones as milestones along the way.

laureth's avatar

Success is encouraging. Failure is offputting.

If you set yourself up for failure, it might make you not try nearly as hard as if you set yourself up for a (likelier) success. And goals are more easily reached when one thinks one can succeed.

I think you should set a goal that is challenging but at which you have a better-than-almost-impossible chance of success. If it were me, it would make me feel like it was still worth it to try, rather than knowing that trying would be useless in the, um, long run. ;)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Why did you select a mileage goal rather than a time goal? Are you training for a marathon? Is your timing and goal realistic? Are you really interested in the end result? Perhaps a more realistic goal is to increase your mileage by a certain percentage each month, to work up to being able to cover the mileage you need.

Warpstone's avatar

Break the goal down into digestible chunks. It may be unrealistic to think you’re going to reach a certain mileage that only full-time athletes can achieve. However, if break the mileage into several intermediate goals, then you have something to motivate you: your 1/8 distance goal, followed by your 1/4 goal next month and so on.

Even if you never reach an unrealistic goal using the above method, at the end of the year you will have been able to make appreciable progress (i.e I’m now at the 3/8 mark) and will not have suffered the stress of a crippling fear of an unachievable goal. Setting “micro-goals” is basically a way of avoiding no progress at all.

This is basically the same technique used in project management (split up an overall vision into discrete, actionable chunks) applied to running :)

nikipedia's avatar

Don’t hurt yourself. Life is better than that. Use this data to help set more reasonable goals in the future and for now, set a smaller one that you’ll still be happy with.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s better to set smaller goals. If you say, “I’m going to run 1200 miles this year!” and slack off for a month, the goal seems insurmountable. If you say, instead, “I’m going to run 100 miles a month,” or “I’m going to run 25 miles a week,” then when you have a bad week, you can say, “jeez, that was a bad week. Next week I’ll run 25 miles!”

Normskiiz's avatar

I’d say I have a simlar situation to yours !! In saying that if this goal is something u put ur mind heart soul and body into it don’t give up !! Keep reaching cause eventurally you will get there I think you should still reach for that goal but whist reaching for that have a backup !! So u have something to fall back on !:)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You also have to ask yourself if you really enjoy running. Odds are, if you’re avoided it for the last 6 months, you might do better biking or rollerblading, or something you enjoy doing.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@PandoraBoxx: I think you misread the question completely. I never said I had been avoiding running for the last six months. More like the opposite…

PandoraBoxx's avatar

LOL I probably did, so sorry. I’m trying to avoid teaching myself statistics for a test next monday… and I’m trying to avoid it.

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