Goal setting and achievement is an area I thrive in. It’s my jam. I study the most successful people and apply their perspectives and mindsets. It’s what I do in my career. I help clients – especially athletes – with their goal setting.
You can get to a goal via a “tough” mindset but what I’ve observed over 3000 hours of coaching, is that it burns people out and drains willpower.
My focus with the high achiever types often isn’t getting things done, it comes down to longevity and sustainability for them and helping them reconnect with their “why.”
I know lots of high achiever types who use intense pressure, self criticism, and high expectations. It works in the short run, but has longer term consequences. In high performance athletes, for example, I see a loss of life balance, strange injuries and illnesses come up, highs and lows in their performance, and other segments of their life fall out of balance. There’s negative ripple effects all over the place.
I was fascinated, and started self-experimenting with goal setting approaches..
I write about all sorts of things on the GML with all sorts of approaches, including the one below, because I want you to be exposed to lots of ideas and different types of thinking. Some will work for you. Some won’t. Here’s a fascinating alternative approach to goal setting and running.
** Slack off***
No human being hits 100% of their goals in all areas of their lives. It’s not possible. It would be a different world if everyone could achieve their goals.
Whenever I coach and work with my clients, my high achievers often have the most difficulty. They get to their goals, but struggle with longevity, generating energy and willpower. They’re quite tough on themselves. Shooting for 100% and expecting 100% the whole way. Their mind is blown when I tell them they can get the same results with a 70% mindset.
I like 70%. It’s a really nice number.
But there’s such negative connotations with 70%. In University my students are hard on themselves with a 70%. It’s a B- or C+ in some classes. It’s never good enough. Everyone’s always going for the A+. It’s always all or nothing with goal setting. To move into the 70% place is not all or nothing, it is good enough, but a fascinating thing happens, 70% seems to launch them into the stratosphere. 70% is about accumulating wins what makes it very easy to put the extra 30% in.
think about your own mindset around 70% in anything. What were you taught to think about 70%? For example, what was your family’s response if you bought home a 70% on something? You got that score on some kind of assessment?
What would happen if you backed off from 100% to 70% in something you are working toward, and got away from your all-or-nothing mindset?
I tried this out with my running. And guess what?
You experience a powerful shift in your drive. You stop relying on willpower (not good,) and start using the power of memory and gratitude to drive your motivation because you have the time and space (since you’re only going at 70%) to engage in gratitude based practices.
I set a rather ridiculous goal for myself on 1st mat leave. Rather than run a 10k I decided to jump out of a helicopter and run 21k down a mountain. That still makes me laugh. That was the old all-or-nothing mindset.
I started training, knowing I had 12 weeks to do it. I, motivated Carina, struggled like you wouldn’t believe those first few weeks. My willpower started strong and drizzled away. I started getting injuries, and was getting way too stressed out about the impending run. I used all of the magical motivators I know of.
I was doing all of these amazing trail runs at my best effort with a rather ruthless mindset and coming back drained, sore, and unmotivated to go out for the next long run.
One day I was running down in our provincial park. As I came through a thick forest, smacking branches out of the way, I stopped with my hear in my throat. A HUGE creature stood up and looked right at me.
A FULL SIZED MOOSE. Terrified, I ran as fast as I could in the other direction. The feeling was mutual. She ran away just as scared of me.
That very same run, a few minutes after my adrenals had recovered, I saw a gorgeous bald eagle soar overhead and land in a nearby tree. I paused my GPS tracker and looked around. I was running along this beautiful trail, rimmed with copses of birch trees, and my feet were cushioned by soft mossy ground. It was spectacular. The rest of that run was an easy, ambling adventure through Canadian forest. I got the distance done but in a very slow time that wouldn’ t have met my standards at the start of the run. I was too busy stopping and taking photos and simply enjoying the beauty of nature. The funny thing is, at the end of that 12k run, I felt the best I have ever felt after a run. I felt profound grattitude, and a craving for more of whatever it was that just happened.
The moment it all clicked.
The same day I did the same. I went in with an idea of my distance, but threw my time goals out of the window. I decided to just see what I felt ilke doing. You know what? It gave me time to stop, absorb the moment I was in, and enjoy it. It took my run from pain and suffering to immense enjoyment and immersion in nature. For the first time I was not stumbling on rocks because I was there, with the trail. Instead of just running on it. I was out of my 100% perfectionist mindset inside of my head, listening to the GPS and relying on willpower.
Relying on the energy of the natural environment around me and enjoyment of the experience was a game changer. The rest of those 12 weeks, I went into each run with this new mindset, this new perspective, and embraced the 70%.
THE 100% PERFECTIONIST MINDSET
THE 70% RELAXED MINDSET
And so, on September 21st, 2014 when I jumped out of a helicopter, onto the shores of a mountain lake, to run 21k DOWN a mountain, through the Canadian Rocky Mountain wilderness I was so ready for it. I ripped through that run in a great time for someone who only trained at 70% and loved every moment of it.
With a 70% approach, I tapped into a deeper motivator than willpower. I was tapped into the majesty of nature, the creation of memories. The experience itself. Being in the present moment. The reason why people (including me) fall in love with trail running in the first place. I almost lost it there, focusing on tech and time and benchmarks, but I found it one afternoon almost crashing into a moose!