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Dave Griffin on Goals

March 2, 2003, was marked on my calendar far in advance. I was training for a marathon, and every run and workout was leading me toward that day.
The previous October I had mapped out my running schedule. Every detail was scripted.

The winter was a cold one. There were days when I wanted to stay inside where it was warm, but I resisted all the excuses. I ran what was scheduled each day, long runs, track workouts and tempo runs were all done as planned. I noted each workout in my log but didn’t care too much about them independently. They were just a part of something bigger.

The blizzard of 2003 came on February 16th. The B&A trail was covered with a couple of feet of snow, too much to melt away in the cold temperatures that followed. It was upsetting to learn that the race was cancelled.

I looked at the calendar when I woke up on March 2nd and stared at the note marking the big event. I looked at that note every day until we turned the calendar on April 1st.

It’s not that I didn’t benefit from the training. I did. In fact, that spring I ran some great races. It’s just that none of them meant as much as the one I didn’t run.
I’ve noticed that we tend to thrive on milestones and events. We look forward to the next big day and act like the days in between are obstructions we’d like to brush aside. My mother used to refer to that as wishing your life away. Now, I see her point.

My children are both young adults now. When each of them turned twenty-one, we thought of it as a milestone. I remember all the others as well, the events and the parties. I remember the holidays and family gatherings. We made those days special, and I’m glad we did.

Still, I’d like a do-over on some of the ordinary days, when nothing particularly special was happening.

I’d like the chance to put work aside so I could sit by my kids on the couch, watch whatever they were watching on TV, and feel their head resting on my shoulder. I’d like the chance to change my response when they told me they were bored so that I could play whatever they wanted. I want to listen to the giggles that have since faded away and felt the touch of tiny hands that don’t live here anymore.

I thrive on goals. And, once I set one, I always create a plan and do my best to follow it. But it’s different now. I don’t squander my time hoping a big day will come more quickly. I’ve done that before, and I realize now what’s been lost along the way.

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