You’ll never know what you can do until you nearly die.
Goal setting is an important part of life at which I stink. Therefore, I have determined that my kids will be proficient at it. At least, that’s my goal.
A couple of years ago, I challenged my son to set a goal that we could achieve together. I used the SMART goal technique—one of the few things of lasting value that my teacher training has produced. The acronym helps you to set a goal that will be both doable and worth doing.
S stands for specific. The goal has to be clearly defined, so that you know when it has been reached. “I will get in shape,” is not a specific goal. How do you define “in shape?” Round is a shape. “I will work my cardiovascular system so that I don’t feel like I’m eighty until I‘m at least sixty,” narrows it down a bit.
M is for Measurable. There has to be a way of knowing when you have achieved your goal. “I’m going to run every day,” is too vague. A measurable goal would be, “I will be able to run a six-minute mile without encountering Mr. Death.”
A is for Attainable. Is it realistic that you could run that six-minute mile? I ran a five-minute mile in high school, but that was 27 years and 65 pounds ago. Maybe a seven-minute mile would be more realistic.
R is for Relevant. Does this goal make your life better? Would attaining this goal make you a better person? Running a six (or seven) minute mile would make you healthier, stronger, and more productive—that’s relevant. Becoming the Chubby Bunny champion of the Jr. High group…not so much.
T, finally, is for Timely. If there is no deadline, it isn’t a goal; it’s a dream.
I loaded Alec up with all this information and asked him what he wanted to achieve. He looked at me and declared, “I want to ride our bikes to Grandpa’s.”
Grandpa lives at the beach, about 100 miles away. This would take at least two days, maybe three. This would involve pulling a bike trailer, and camping out. I asked if maybe he wanted to be Chubby Bunny champ instead; he stuck with the bike ride.
So the preparations began. We started by contacting a friend of ours who is an expert at long-distance bicycling. To my
dismay delight, he said that yes, we could work up to a 100-mile trip within our six-week time frame. He suggested a three day, two night trip, and helped us plan our route and itinerary. He even let us borrow some camping equipment. He would not train for me, however—he said I had to do that myself.
The next step was to find a trailer with which to pull our gear. My neighbor stepped up, allowing us the use of a child trailer, though he also insisted that I do my own training. It seemed that there was no way out but through.
We began to ride. A lot. Alec’s eleven-year-old body responded quickly to the training. So did my 41-year-old body…just in a different way.
Six weeks goes quickly when you’re wishing you had more time to get ready. At last, the day arrived.
Time to ride.
Tune in next time to find out if we survived, and help me count flat tires.