• Category Archives Goals
  • How to chase dreams and fight the fear of failure

    I’ve been doing a lot — and, boy, do I mean a lot — of self-analysis lately. Who am I, where am I going, where do I want to be going, and why am I not there yet? Additionally, when did I start becoming more cynical, more narrow-minded, and less determined but at the same time more rigid?

    I don’t have all the answers yet, but I do know that at least I’m making a little progress by asking them and confronting myself. I also know that it’s been almost four years since I upended my life because I was stuck in a rut that I did not like. I was stuck in an increasingly unhappy job with no opportunities to move up, I was stuck in a relationship that was destroying my self-esteem, and then I suffered a stress fracture that dashed all running dreams for the next several months. So I set out to find myself.

    Four years later, I’ve both succeeded and failed. For a while, I was much happier. I traveled more (Alaska, Ireland, Colorado, New York, Chicago, Hawaii). I ran more (an ultra-marathon, faster times). I explored my new town. I began to dream again.

    But somewhere along the way, I got lost again. Some of it started last October, when another injury sidelined all of my running goals, which had gotten bigger and bolder (qualify for Boston). Some of it started this year, when I tried to follow another dream and was repeatedly shot down, sending my self-esteem plummeting. However, I suspect most of it is because I have lifelong dreams that have gone unfulfilled. They eat at me until I’m convinced I’m not good enough, and that if I try to reach them, I’ll fail.

    Some of those dreams I cannot reach on my own, but some of them are all up to me. So, how do I make myself pursue them? Yesterday evening, instead of googling for inspirational quotes, I turned instead to Facebook and asked: “What mantras, quotes, rules or experiences do you use to try to better yourself and chase away the ‘I’m afraid I’ll fail’ demons?” As an example, I gave this quote from George Eliot: “It’s never too late to become who you might have been.” I knew that many of my Facebook friends wouldn’t see the post, due to timing and algorithms that limit which posts people see. But in the 10 hours since, I’ve received a number of great quotes.

    A good friend texted her response: “Jump and the net will appear.”

    Another friend messaged his response, which he’d seen on a poster that same day: “To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month or even one year – but for a lifetime.” The quote was from legendary runner and author Bill Rodgers, and my friend pointed out that it doesn’t just apply to running. This is so true: It’s the big picture of life. If I’ve got these life dreams, each day should prepare me for them, because they won’t suddenly happen immediately.

    “Life’s battles don’t always go to the bigger or faster man…but sooner or later, the fellow who wins, is the man who thinks he can.” This was offered by a friend and former colleague, Rick, who is deaf and has faced more than his share of battles. The key there is to think I can do it.

    Another former journalist-turned-runner (turned Ironman, which is a whole other level, if you ask me), Theresa, offered this line from a sports journalism professor of hers: “The only way out is through.” Yes, if I want to reach the goals, I have to push through everything standing between me and them.

    “I like to tell myself that I’ll definitely fail if I don’t try,” said another writer. I really admire her, because she has worked hard to get to a career she wanted. If she hadn’t tried, she never would have gotten there.

    Then there is this Wayne Gretzky quote, offered by an old friend, Dave: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

    Audrey pointed out that, even if you don’t make that shot, you learn along the way. As another saying goes, practice makes perfect. Similarly, Pam offered this advice: “My dad always has told me that if you fail, pick yourself up and try again. Never give up until you succeed.”

    And from another Ironman, Stuart: “You only regret the things you didn’t do.” This resonated, because often I ask myself, when trying to make a decision or do something that’s hard, which option I would regret more. Would I regret trying and not making it, or would I regret never trying at all? That answer is obvious.

    Similarly, Brandon offered a line from a Shinedown song: “Long live the day that I decided to fly.” It’s a decision, and I have to truly make that decision before I can go anywhere.

    My friend Marc turned it around back at me, with the advice I gave him the day before he ran his first marathon: “One that sticks with me is something a really great friend told me on January 11 of this year. She said there will be a point where I will realize “this is the farthest I’ve ever gone.” And that’s true for everything. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.” He’s right (which I guess means that I was right). I still remember the point when I passed mile 22 of the Tucscon Marathon in December 2008. There, on an Arizona highway, I realized that was the farthest I had even run — and at the same time I realized I was actually going to run a marathon. I did finish that marathon, and then I kept on going to more goals and milestones. The journey continued, and it was a good journey.

    And then there was this, from Linda: “Shan’t I be good to thee self, I shan’t be good to another.” She didn’t know it, but that one hit home more than all the rest. I love people, I love helping them and making them happy, and some of my biggest dreams require other people. But I can’t be good for them and help them unless I also do that for myself. That’s actually a realization I reached last week, so Linda’s timing was perfect. I have to be strong enough to stand on my own.

    Where does all of this advice go? How do I actually retain it, rather than dumping it all into a blog post and then moving on? Well, one way is through sheer determination, which I’m already working on. I don’t like the way I give up on things I want, just because they’re hard or there are huge obstacles in the way. I fear that I’ll fail, so I stop trying — and that’s no way to live my life.

    So I’m going to keep re-reading the quotes offered from friends who have clearly had the strength to keep fighting, and who also took the time to give me some advice. I’m going to try to stand up tall and keep fighting my doubts and insecurity. I’m going to try to be a better, stronger, supportive person to those I care about. And I’m going to tell myself over and over again that I AM good enough to chase my dreams.

    After all, as Darleen advised, “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” I want more, so I have to do more.

  • 2014 goal check-in: April, May & June

    Okay, goals for the year, as of the end of June. (Yes, I know we are more than halfway through July now.) My first five goals were all running-related, plus a century bike ride. They won’t happen due to injury, so I’m not rehashing them here.

    6. Bike at least 700 miles: I rode 92.53 miles in April, 39.5 miles in May and 38.15 miles in June. That puts me at 674.18 miles for the year. Spoiler alert: As I write this, I have already passed my original goal, so I guess now I’ll just see how far I go over it.

    7. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: Well, I still have 107 more trips to the gym to meet that goal, which would mean 18 trips a month through December…

    8. Read at least one book a month: I read “Broken Harbor” by Tana French in April — I love her deep mystery novels set in Ireland, but though this one did keep me captivated and wanting to know what happened next, it dragged at times and wasn’t as good as her others. In May, I read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed — it was fun to read about the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through California, past my hometown, and through Oregon, but for all the rave reviews this book gets, I expected a bit more. And in June I read “A Child Called It” by Dave Pelzer — it gives an inside view about the horrors foster kids face, and the fact that they are very emotionally damaged but can be saved.

    9. Cook dinner more often: This was hit and miss. These bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, black beans, corn, cheddar jack cheese, feta cheese and some seasonings were great, but I didn’t like the mushy bell peppers (ate the leftovers without the peppers). I also made my own oven fries and potato soup — yes, I like potatoes.

    10. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: This was also hit and miss. I had planned to write a separate post about how I didn’t have my iPhone near my bed for all of Lent, but the short version is that it definitely got me to bed on time.

    11. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: As of the end of June, this had not changed, and had actually gone the wrong direction.

    12. Blog an average of twice a week: Nope, didn’t happen. April had one post, May had none, June had two. I’m not apologizing or beating myself up for it, since I make $0 off this blog.

    13. Find a cheaper place to live: Here’s another “Bay Area rents are too high” article, which I never seem to have any trouble finding — actually, I never go looking for them, so I imagine there are dozens more out there.

    And here’s another article about a San Francisco home that went on the market for $2 million, got six offers in one week all above asking price, and sold for $3.4 million. Another kicker: In 1994, the house went into foreclosure and sold for $145,000.

  • 2014 goal check-in: March

    Well. March sure had a lot of ups and downs in my world, but I’m in an upswing at the moment, so maybe I should do my goal check-in. (I’ve now added a “Goals” category to make this easier for me to go back and reference.)

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon: Won’t happen due to not running.
    2. Set a new personal record in the marathon: Same.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon: Same.
    4. Do a century bike ride: Honestly, this is iffy. I did a 25-mile ride outside and was exhausted — turns out, barely working will take its toll after three months.
    5. Run 1,500 miles: Nope. But here are a couple pictures from a hike.
    6. Bike at least 700 miles: I rode 162 miles in March, for a total of 504 miles for the year. Yep, I’ll beat that goal (though I had planned on a lot of running when I made these goals).
    7. Does this count as a spin class selfie?
    8. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: Hmm. I went 12 times in January, 11 times in February and now only nine times in March. This means I have to go 118 more times in the next nine months, or 13 times per month. I better get my act together. (There were a lot of “downs” relating to going to the gym this month.)
    9. Read at least one book a month: I finished March’s book (“Freckles” by Gene Stratton-Porter, a book I read many years ago and randomly thought of months ago) a few days into April — oops. It should have been a fast read but I read it on my phone via the Kindle app, and that was kind of weird. That was my first e-book, and I wasn’t thrilled with the concept.
    10. Cook dinner more often: Oh hey, maybe I did this a little? Meanwhile, Angela said this about her attempt at doing more cooking at home, and I laughed when I read it because it sums me up: “If I plan one meal per week ahead of time, I put it in the win column, because PROGRESS! Two meals? I am a god damned wizard.” And another reason Angela is a good egg? She included a recipe that called for 4 ounces of white wine, then said: “In case it isn’t obvious, all of this should be paired with the rest of the wine.” Anyway, here are a few pictures of what I cooked this month, though the photos are refusing to share a line.
      Chicken, grains, green beans, wine
      Grilled smoked gouda turkey avocado sourdough
      Cheesy enchilada pasta (looks bad, tastes good)

      Tofu stir-fry (slice tofu thin; marinade it in soy sauce)
    11. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: I actually did this about half a dozen times. I don’t have my phone in bed for now (more on this experiment later), so I think that helps.
    12. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: No change.
    13. Blog an average of twice a week: I only blogged twice in March. I wanted to sit down and write something after a terribly sad death, but instead I came home completely drained from the memorial service, somehow picked a stupid fight and then cried so hard that my eyes were a mess the whole next day. (And people wonder why I say that I hate to cry and therefor rarely do so.) And I just had no drive or desire to come up with “Tuesday Time-Waster” posts. It happens, and I’m OK with that.
    14. Find a cheaper place to live: As in January’s update, this month I came across another “Bay Area rent sucks” article, this time about how the “rent shouldn’t be more than one-third of your salary” rule doesn’t generally work here anymore. In my case, it’s true. Painfully true. As in, 41 percent painfully true.
    Bonus photo! This is what happens when I text on St. Patrick's Day (while wearing shamrock earrings).

  • 2014 goal check-in: February

    I’m not sure where February went, but it seemed to be a haze of birthday and Valentine’s Day and weekend adventures. Come to think of it, that was a pretty good month. Anyway, here’s another check-in on this year’s goals:

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon: Nope. I said in last month’s check-in that I’d taken this goal off the plate because of a cranky IT band. It’s still mad.
    2. Set a new personal record in the marathon: See above.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon: Also see above.
    4. Do a century bike ride: I didn’t ride outside at all in February, but that’s fine. I need to ponder possible summer century bike rides.
    5. Run 1,500 miles: Not happening. I did two run/walk tests in February, which totaled 20 minutes of running, or probably less than 2.5 miles of running.

      No running, but this was a lovely six-mile hike at South Mountain, south of Phoenix.
    6. Bike at least 700 miles: I rode 141 miles in February (all inside, but that still counts), which put me at 342 for the year. I should have made this goal harder, apparently!

      Does this count for my biking miles? (Answer: nope!)
    7. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: I went to the gym 11 times in February, so I was one or two visits short of what I need to reach that goal. I still have time to get back on track, though.
    8. Read at least one book a month: I finished a book (“The Eight”) on a plane on the very last day of February! I, um, started the book last year, though, so does that count? I’ll count it because it’s 598 pages and wasn’t a fast read due to a complex plot that switched back and forth between the 1700s and 1900s.
    9. Cook dinner more often: I may have usually forgotten about this one?
    10. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: Oh dear, another failure. I think I met this goal twice, unless a few nights in Arizona count, because they’re currently an hour ahead of California? (WHY is daylight saving time still a thing? It’s 2014, for crying out loud!) However, I have high hopes that this will improve in March.
    11. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: I lost the two pounds that I gained in January, so now I’m back to the original goal. No progress toward the bigger picture.
    12. Blog an average of twice a week: I blogged six times. Most were Tuesday Time-Wasters, so that is kind of an oops/fail. But it’s still okay, since it’s my unpaid blog. I liked this post about my hometown best.
    13. Find a cheaper place to live: Ugh. Since February only had 28 days, my per-day rent was even worse than normal.

      Life is good.

  • 2014 goal check-in: January

    Somehow, it’s February 6, already?! Huh. Anyway, without further ado, I decided to document how badly I have failed so far in my 2014 goals.

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon: I’m on the injury list with an angry IT band, and a doctor ordered me to rest it. In the midst of my full-blown endorphin withdrawal, I mentally (and on Twitter, so that counts?) removed this goal from my list. That was a relief.
    2. Set a new personal record in the marathon: That wasn’t planned for January anyway, so no further comments.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon: See above.
    4. Do a century bike ride: I had a spectacular failure of a planned outside ride, in which I gave up less than two miles into the ride and poor Kimra had to do the rest of it by herself. I owe her a drink. However, I did do a 22.8-mile ride outside with Kristen and didn’t fall over, so there’s hope for this goal.
    5. Driest California January on record = outside biking.
    6. Run 1,500 miles: Since I ran a whopping 10.5 miles in January (see number 1), I really doubt I’ll reach the goal this year.
    7. Bike at least 700 miles: Finally! A goal in which I am not failing! I biked 201 miles in January! 174 of those were inside, but that’s fair game in my rules.
    8. Go to the gym at least 150 times this year: I went to the gym 12 times in January, so I’m barely on track.
    9. Read at least one book a month: Fail! I used to read a book a week! Argh.
    10. This book, given to me in early February, is an inspiration for many reasons. And it's definitely one of the most thoughtful, appropriate gifts I've ever received.
    11. Cook dinner more often: I still haven’t settled on a way to quantify this one, though some of you had great ideas. I think “cook a full meal once a week” is certainly reasonable, along with “try two new recipes a month.” I also think this was sort of a fail in January.
    12. Wine in the best glass ever, along with stir-fry.
    13. Go to bed at 10 p.m.: Hahaha! The running failures had a valid explanation, but this one has NO EXCUSE. I even moved my phone’s “do not disturb” mode to 9:30 p.m., but I think I went to bed at 10 p.m. once in all of January. Why?!
    14. Get down to XXX amount of pounds: Umm, let’s just say that I moved in the opposite direction.
    15. Blog an average of twice a week: I wrote seven blog posts in January. Most were simple Tuesday Time-Waster posts, but hey, it’s my blog so that’s OK. At least my “Finding happiness” blog post was thoughtful and made me actually write something of substance.
    16. Find a cheaper place to live: That didn’t happen, but I didn’t plan on it in January, anyway. I did, however, see this list of the 25 most expensive cities in America and found myself thinking of nearly each one, “Hey, that’s not so bad.” Yeah, this is what happens when I live near the second most expensive city in the U.S.

  • 2014 goals

    Over the years, I’ve sometimes set out “beginning of the year” goals for myself. I’ve always been reluctant to call them “resolutions,” because “resolving” to do something sounds so final. What if I don’t complete a resolution, due to circumstances beyond my control? Does that mean I failed? Instead, I like to call them “goals.” Semantics, maybe, but hey, it’s my blog so I’ll call them goals.

    Anyway, the thing about goals or resolutions is that you need to be able to measure them. “Get in shape” isn’t quantifiable, so how do you know if you succeeded? Plus, it’s awfully vague. So, I’ve done my best to set out quantifiable goals.

    1. Qualify for the Boston Marathon. Honestly, this is my biggest goal right now, and it’s why I removed my “run another ultra and hopefully a 50-miler” goals for this year. This requires me to run a 3:39:59 marathon by September. I’m currently 7 minutes, 23 seconds from that goal, and I have a leg that’s preventing me from doing much running. In fact, I need to call the doctor… So, we’ll see how that goes.
    2. Set a personal record (PR) in the marathon. This is the “plan b” to No. 1 above. So, run a 3:47:21 or faster. I’d really like to do this at the New Jersey Marathon in late April, if my leg will cooperate.
    3. Run sub-1:45 in a half-marathon. I only need to get faster by 21 seconds in order to meet this goal, but again, I have the grumpy leg. (I’m running a half-marathon in a few weeks, but the PR won’t happen there. Maybe in August?)
    4. Do a century bike ride. A few years ago, I bicycled 45 boring miles. So it’s no small task to more than double that distance, especially since it would be a lot easier on a road bike than on my hybrid bike. Doable? Yes. Will I actually do it? Hmmm. I need cycling companions for this one, I think. Any takers?
    5. Run a total of 1,500 miles. I ran 1,401.91 miles in 2013, so it’s doable IF my body will cooperate.
    6. Bike a total of at LEAST 700 miles (spin classes count). I biked 668.65 miles in 2013, with only 38 of them outside. Both numbers need to improve.
    7. Go to the gym at least 150 times during the year. This would be about three times a week, while I averaged closer to twice a week in 2013, so this will require some vigilance. I need a better way to track this, but at least I can manually count in my training logs.
    8. Read at least one book a month. That’s pathetic when considering that I used to read more than 50 books a year. The Internet is to blame for this. And maybe the TV.
    9. Cook dinner more often. Grapefruit and popcorn (not simultaneously) are not really dinner. I can usually follow a recipe, but the challenge is to plan ahead so I have the ingredients and can try to do some prep on the weekend. I need a way to quantify this one, because “cook more” breaks my own goal-setting guidelines. Any ideas?
    10. Go to bed at 10 p.m. Ideally, go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and read until 10. My phone goes into “do not disturb” mode at 10 p.m., to prevent me from seeing texts and notices after that point — unless I’m still on my phone. That happens all too often, thanks to social media. (I love all of you.)
    11. Get down to [undisclosed number because I’m self-conscious] pounds. It’s about 10 pounds less than what I weigh now. That’s a whole bag of potatoes I wouldn’t have to carry with me when running! No, I don’t have a weight problem or an eating disorder. No, losing about 10 pounds will not harm me.
    12. Blog an average of twice a week. Honestly, the Tuesday Time-Wasters (which I revived last month) are fun and easy. So I really only need to come up with other content once a week in order to meet this goal. That said, this is my blog and I’m not paid for it, so I’m not going to cry if I don’t actually log 104 blog posts this year.
    13. Find a cheaper place to live.

    OK, that’s a baker’s dozen list of goals. It will either be a lot of success or a lot of failure. Here goes 2014!

  • 2012 goals

    It’s common to make New Year’s resolutions. “I’m going to lose 30 pounds, get more sleep and drink less alcohol.” “I’m going to be nicer to my mom, get good grades and get a part-time job.” “I’m going to spend less time at the office, learn to make cheesecake and read 30 books.”

    But the word “resolution” has always intimidated me. Saying that I “resolve” to do something means that I WILL do it. What if I try and fail? What if life gets in the way and I can’t get it done? I prefer to set goals. I try to work toward them, and if I can make some progress, then it means I’m on the right path. For instance, this year I set the goal of beating my previous times in as many running distances as possible. I did it in both the half-marathon and marathon, so I met part of that goal. I had the same goal last year, which I did in the half-marathon but not the marathon — partly because an injury ruined my plans and took me out for four months. I didn’t break a resolution in 2010; rather, I tried to reach a goal but didn’t quite get there.

    It’s a small difference, but I guess a “goal” sounds more positive to me than a “resolution.” Considering how tumultuous my life has been lately, I’m desperately clinging to every positive bit I can find. So, here we go: my goals for 2012. They are few, and are unintentionally listed in order of difficulty, starting with the easiest.

    1. Break four hours in the marathon. I’m actually hoping to do this on January 1 (as in, next Sunday?!), so it sure would be nice to meet that goal on the first day of 2012. If I don’t, I doubt I’ll have another chance until next fall.

    2. Beat my half-marathon time. I’ve made, and reached, this goal each year since I ran my first half-marathon in 2008. However, now it’s getting harder because I’ve gotten faster. At some point I will stop getting faster, and I’ll have to change my goal. See why it’s a goal rather than a resolution?

    3. Undisclosed goal. (Yes, you may die of curiosity now.)

    4. The doozy: Start on one of two book ideas. This is the truly scary one, even though the undisclosed No. 3 is pretty freaking scary. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write a book. I’ve made it my goal for years. Many of my friends know and encourage me to start writing already. It actually haunts me more than anything else in my life. It scares the heck out of me, because I don’t know what I’ll do if I fail. Back when I started running, I set a far-off goal to run one half-marathon. I never, ever thought that 2011 would find me on the brink of my sixth full marathon and five weeks away from my first ultra-marathon — and without a book to my name.

    Saying “one of two book ideas” means that I’ve narrowed it down. I, the always indecisive one, have actually ruled out all other options. The fiction attempt from last year, which ended in 5,000 words, is gone. A couple admittedly easier ideas are also gone. When it comes down to it, there are two ideas that refuse to leave. One is perhaps slightly easier, because it would involve less outside research and interviewing, though it would still be far from “easy.” The other is the monster of an idea I’ve had for years, and which I keep shooting down — I know that others have written similar books, it would require interviewing and traveling to be done right (on what budget?), and it could fail in spectacular, horrific fashion that would devastate me.

    I know I’m being vague. That’s how it goes in the area of unpublished, uncopyrighted ideas (though I’ve bounced ideas off a few people, and want to do more of it). That’s also how it goes when I’m a bit freaked out by the fact that I’m putting this goal in solid words — actually, in multiple paragraphs.

    I’ve had a very rough couple of weeks, and it seems that every time I start to rebound, something happens again. Today was another day of ups and downs, and I almost deleted this whole nearly-finished post. But I’ve been clinging to every bit of hope and happiness that I can find, and somewhere in today’s waves of chaos and calm, I decided that this post would be a good thing. Maybe these few goals will give me something to hold onto until the storm waves subside.