The Last Lap

Like many of you, I’ve been making sure my goals for 2022 get accomplished before the year is up. It’s easy to see the connection between annual goals and running a marathon. And even though I’m not a runner, I’ve been preparing for this last lap.

This year, I stuck to the practice of doing a quarterly review of my goals and writing down my accomplishments, fears, concerns, and corrections. Rather than abandon a goal because I wasn’t making progress, I looked at how I was approaching it. Ayelet Fishbach’s book Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation helped me tweak my outlook along the way.

One of those goals is taking 10,000 steps a day. I know, not very exciting. But to me this has become important since the start of the pandemic. Before March 2020, I didn’t realize how much walking I was doing daily. Shortly after the lockdowns began, I started a routine of taking a walk every morning before my day got started. This allowed me to connect with nature (and start a hobby of photographing flowers, particularly cherry blossoms), which gave me peace of mind.

Smart phones are great for tracking our activities and when I realized how many steps I was taking each day, I was inspired to commit to a daily goal of 10,000 steps. In 2021, I came close: 9,333 steps/day. This year, I was determined to meet that goal.

However, I met a few hurdles. The first three months weren’t great. I told myself that it was the cold weather, but in reality I wasn’t taking my goal seriously. Once the first quarter ended, I was confronted with the data during my review process. I had to ask myself the question: do I really want to commit to this goal?

In reviewing my goal against Fishbach’s research, I realized that my goal was too specific. I needed to have something more abstract to support my daily walking. Fishbach’s work taught me how to design goals so that they don’t become chores. Instead of focusing on 10,000 steps, I began to focus on my maintaining my health as a goal; walking was one way of achieving that. Just that change in framing improved things going forward (and so did the weather). I achieved my objective in the second quarter, and exceeded it in the third quarter!

Then I got another reality check at the end of the third quarter. I wasn’t going to meet my objective if I just met my daily target. In other words, I’d need to increase my steps to 12,000 a day for the remaining months. Of course, I was kicking myself for letting things slide in the first quarter, but I couldn’t change the past, so I made yet another commitment to myself to keep going.

One of the strategies I’ve been using to help take a second, longer walk at the end of the day (when it’s dark, cold, and uninviting outside) is to attach it to something that relates to my overall health goal. For example, I listen to audio books or music that contribute to my spiritual health. I also use that time to maintain my relationships by making phone calls to loved ones.

I’m feeling good about this last lap. I’m not at the finish line yet, but I’m looking forward to the celebration and hope you are too! I’d love to hear about your goal journey this year.

If you’d like to start planning your professional and personal goals for 2023, then check out my guide
Career Planner Workbook for the 21st Century Lawyer!

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