Goals are a tool used to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Goals and motivations are linked and they won’t be very effective without each other. If you set your goals based on the wrong motivations then you will not be satisfied when you reach your goals. In fact, I’ve found that if your motivation is not true, you may not even make it to your goal. This is why my tag line starts with “Align Your Life.” Achieving your goals will not matter if you are misaligned.
Think about when the wheels on your car are out of alignment. You have to pull the steering wheel to keep the car going where you want it to go. It takes extra effort to drive to your destination if your car is not aligned. Tires will be worn, low gas mileage and overall poor performance result from your wheels being out of alignment. This is exactly how it happens in your life.
This happened to me one year. I set a goal to run a marathon (http://okcmarathon.com) and was prepared to do it. I had run the half marathon the year before (this was the furthest I had ever run) and I was prepared to make it the whole 26.2. I had all the gear: running shoes, running tights, gloves, reflectors, bluetooth earbuds… I had the schedule: training, rest, cross training, etc. I even had the accountability. I told friends and family; I had a coworker running the same training schedule. Everything was set, planned and ready for a huge goal. Then I skipped a run, or two. I didn’t stretch enough or properly. I dropped a cross training day. But I was okay, I could get my long run in on Saturday and be back on track. And I did, for a while. My knee started to hurt, a lot! I dropped my long runs in favor of not being in pain all the time. I could run if I stopped to stretch every couple of miles. I was miserable. I wasn’t going to achieve my goal and I was struggling to accept my defeat. I went to the race that year but I ran the half marathon instead of the whole 26.2 miles. I failed to reach my goal.
Don’t let the smile fool you, I was in pain!
Why did I fail? My goal of a marathon was misaligned with the rest of my life. Hindsight is great; now that I look back I know exactly why I didn’t succeed. I wanted to run a marathon to check off a box. I wanted to run a marathon for the sake of running a marathon. I didn’t really have any other motivation than that. And that wasn’t enough. When sleep was an option, or I was in pain, or my kids wanted to play I chose the things that had a true motivation in my life rather than the misaligned goal of a marathon.
Don’t get me wrong: I think running a marathon is a noble thing and I still would love to complete it someday. At that time, I was not in a place where a goal with such a huge commitment was properly placed in my life. When I’m ready, I’ll run a marathon someday.
Doing what it takes to achieve your goals will mean sacrifice. It does not matter what your goal is if you aren’t prepared to pay the price to reach it then it will not be worth it. Jesus tells the story like this, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30) Jesus says if you aren’t willing to sacrifice then you can’t be his disciple. The same teaching applies to our goals. The cost of achieving your goals means sacrificing other things. It could be money, time, family, career, enjoyment, comfort, or something else. If what you sacrifice is aligned with your values and closer to your motivations then your goal will rip you apart from your true self.
You don’t have to let this happen to you. Align your life: set your goals according to what is important to you, your values. When it gets tough, and it will, you will be ready to face the adversity because you know your goals support who you are and what you want to be.