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In January this year, just like every January for as long as I can remember, I wrote down a few goals I wanted to accomplish in the 12 months ahead. When I wrote down those goals, little did I know the bumps I would encounter just a few months down the road.
One of my goals was to run in a 10K. When I set the goal, this was twice as far as my previous longest distance. Nonetheless, in January the goal felt doable. I had mentally targeted the fall for running my 10K, and by June I was halfway there. But then, the road got bumpy. Just after I ran in a 5K race, my dad’s health took a drastic turn for the worse. Needless to say, my goal of running a 10K was quickly replaced with the goal of spending as much time as possible with my dad in Michigan.
After my dad passed away in August, it was running that kept me going. The goal of running a 10K was still in the back of my mind, but a different, shorter race called out to me. On September 22, 2012, I ran in the Race for Mesothelioma, which was a 5K. I ran in honor of my dad and in hopes of taking one step closer to a finding a cure for the disease that took his life.
When I ran that race, it felt like it would have to be the replacement for the 10K. I didn’t feel like there was enough time before the end of the year to find a 10K to run in and to also double my distance. By chance, and with my goal of a 10K fading, I joined an online challenge to run 43 miles in the month of October. I ended up running more than 45 miles that month, and then decided to bring my total miles to 100 in November. My last run in November—the one that pushed me over the 100-mile mark—was a 10-kilometer run by myself on the streets of my town. It wasn’t the organized 10K race I had pictured in my mind in January, but it was very much my 10K goal achieved. I simply took a different path to the goal. While there was no cheering crowd, timer or finish line at the end, the sense of accomplishment I felt on November 30 was remarkable.
I share this story because often we get so hung up on how we are going to accomplish something that we forget the original intent of the goal. My goal wasn’t to run in a specific 10K race—the race was simply the path I pictured myself taking to accomplish my real goal: being able to run 10 kilometers without stopping.
If there’s something you want that feels out of reach today—whether it is a clutter-free home, better relationships, a higher paying job or more time to do the things you love—try a different path. There’s always more than one way to get there, and that applies to anything you want to do. And you just never know…the next path you try may turn out to be the ultimate shortcut to your goal.