The Insurmountable Goal

The Insurmountable Goal.jpg

During a recent business trip to Indianapolis, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay with an old college roommate. 

While there I had a brief moment to talk to his wife, Courtney (a made up name to protect the innocent), about a current goal of hers: to run a marathon (26.2 miles).  The Disney Marathon in fact, taking place in early January 2010.

It starts with a single step...

Being interested in running and having an understanding of what an incredible undertaking this is, I questioned her further about her training regimen. She explained to me that she was following a schedule promoted by Hal Higdon, noted running enthusiast and author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. Briefly, the novice training consists of an 18 week program broken down into three shorter (a relative term here, no doubt) runs during the week, one long run on the weekend and a cross train (walking, biking, swimming, etc.) of your choice the other weekend day.  Most importantly, Mr. Higdon notes, rest is required on the other two days.  Throughout the 18 weeks of training a total of 435 miles will be run, not including the actually marathon.

435 miles?  What? And then the marathon?  Sounds impossible if you ask me.

But that is the beauty of how Mr. Higdon presents the opportunity (the training to accomplish an incredible goal).  Nowhere on the program does it say that the entire training will cover over 435 miles.  It simply states what is required on any single day over the next 18 weeks.  Can you run three miles one day (as the first day of training requires)?  Well, yes.  Can you push yourself on the first long run to accomplish six miles?  Sure.  Are you willing to reward yourself with two days of rest per week?  No doubt.

I don’t mean to make it sound simple. It isn’t. Far from it. There will be days when you are cursing yourself for even attempting the feat.  There will be days when you are overjoyed with the ease at which you accomplished that day’s task.  There will be rain, heat and cold.  Blisters, sore muscles and doubt.  But if you have the mental and physical strength and keep your focus, you will realize your goal: completing a marathon. A goal, I would estimate 90% of the world would never even attempt.  And that is pretty cool.

And for that reason, I find a marathon to be the perfect metaphor for accomplishing any seemingly insurmountable goal.

  • Set the overall goal and the deadline (timeframe for accomplishing the goal).
  • Break it down into daily and weekly tasks and measure your progress.
  • Understand that there will be good days and bad.
  • Stay the course and keep your focus on the ultimate goal.
  • Reap the reward and self satisfaction of accomplishing the goal.
  • Let that inspire you to set even higher goals for yourself.

I assume most of you reading this have already set your goals for 2010.  Do they meet the set of objectives above?  If so, great.  If not, perhaps it is time to reevaluate them.  Are they challenging enough?  Do you have the resources to accomplish them?

If you are still looking for a little inspiration for 2010 goals below are a few high level examples that I have heard from clients over the last few years.

  • Complete audits related to locations or divisions which have yet to be audited.
  • Implement continuous monitoring controls using appropriate software for data analytics.
  • Take steps necessary to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • Assess the Risk of Fraud in all aspects of our company.
  • Create a set of monthly financial reports from which to make sound business decisions.
  • Start a new line of business expanding on our current infrastructure.

No matter what your goals are, set them. Write them down and post them as a constant reminder. Do whatever it takes to accomplish them.

Good luck, Courtney.  And to all marathon participants.  And to all those that set out to accomplish seemingly insurmountable goals, Good Luck.


...and ends with you convincing yourself that anything is possible.