I absolutely hate to plan. Anyone who knows me well knows how much it drains me , especially if any scheduling is involved. I loathe scheduling. I’m not sure why it produces such a visceral reaction, but the mere thought of planning every day conjures fantasies of getting knocked upside the head with a dumbbell just to spare me from the pain. I don’t enjoy the process at all.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Logically, I can appreciate the benefits that come along with planning. Many times I’ve found myself wishing I were a bit more like those Type A personalities who get a thrill out of the whole process. I have one friend in particular who gets very animated and excited at the prospect of setting a goal, and laying out the groundwork and milestones in order to achieve it. As she is so fond of reminding me, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Sigh. Okay, I get it. Point taken.
I’ve never been very good with setting goals either. Whenever I do, I tend to dwell more in the abstract with very few specifics. For example, a general goal I’ve had for years is, “I want to become a better runner.” Well, great. Good for me. I can now see why this “goal” has been around for so many years. To my friend’s point, what I’ve really had this whole time is a wish. I have not put any structure around this desire at all, so no wonder I haven’t made much progress in making it my reality. I’m currently planning to change that this year.
The inspiration for this change actually came from my job. My boss has us taking workshops designed to teach us effective methods for scheduling our time and tasks. The over-arching theme of those methods? Planning. My kneejerk reaction was resistance. Nope, this is not for me. However, a coworker indirectly inspired me to change my mind one day when I came across this badge on his desk that read:
EMBRACE THE SUCK
I had never come across this phrase before. A quick search on Google led me to various interpretations, but the one I’ve adopted goes something like this: “Yeah, this situation may suck, and you don’t have to love it. But to get what you want, you have to do it.” I guess you could say I had what Oprah would call an “a-ha!” moment. A large part of being a mature person is accepting that not everything in life is going to be ideal for you. After that, I decided to suck it up and get what I could out of the workshops. I embraced the planning (the suck).
This change in attitude and action has been so apparent that some of my colleagues tease that I “drank the Kool-Aid”. Yeah, maybe I did. But at least I’m trying something different in the hopes of getting better results, rather than sticking with the same old techniques that haven’t been working for me. I’ve been applying these new planning tools to my personal life also, and it’s been helping me set better, more concrete goals for fitness. For example, since military slang gave me so much motivation, I decided to look up the fitness requirements for staying in the military as inspiration. To start, I want to meet the minimum standard requirements for passing basic training in my gender/age group. According to what I found online, these standards include the following:
- 17 push-ups
- 45 sit-ups
- 2 mile running time of 20:30
This is just to start. I’m planning on testing myself by these standards, and I’ll post the results in my blog next week. If I do well enough, then I may up the ante and shoot for the requirements in the 17-21 age group, but I won’t get ahead of myself just yet. J The sit-ups I feel I can handle; that many push-ups may take a little bit of time, but I think I’m close. The running requirement, however, intimidates me. Per my current training, I estimate that I’m running around a 12-minute mile. My training plan involves taking advantage of some races with the Empower crew this spring: Florence Forth 5K and Angels Among Us. (Angels Among Us, by the way, is for a very good cause inspired by our friend, the awesome Nestor Paonessa, in support of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. Nestor is a huge inspiration for me as I work toward achieving my running goal. He’s currently training for a 100-mile trail run! Totally badass).
Training for these races every week should also be helping me improve my running time. Eventually, I know I’ll hit my goal. So far the planning hasn’t been so bad. Yes, I still don’t like doing it, some days I find it difficult to execute what I’ve planned, and I’m not always consistent. I’m a work in progress. However, I’m finding that focusing on the big picture is helping since doing so does come naturally to me. I feel like this is the year when I’ll be able to scratch the ever-present “become a better runner” ambition off of my list, and I’m actually getting excited about it. When I do it, I’ll know it happened because I “embraced the suck” enough to turn a wish into a goal.