Tag Archives: Goals

When is an achievement not an achievement

Recently I’ve found myself wondering if some of the work I do is really worth it. And I’m not talking about civilization level cancer research type is it worth it, but is it worth it just on my level, for me.

Sure we have to do those small annoying menial tasks both in our jobs, or even at home. I know I know, you really really enjoy hanging up the washing or cleaning the toilet, but for the rest of us, it isn’t something we can’t sleep the night before in anticipation of doing. It just isn’t.

Completing a large work goal, yes it helps them the company, and you might feel great about it. Will you be remembered for it? Will you yourself even remember it in a few weeks? What about a few months? Ten years time? Or will it help you get to where you are going? Do you even know where you are going? More importantly, do you know where you want to be going?

Lots has been said on the fact that you should design your own career or someone else will, and I think that equally applies to life. Life is more than your job, or at least it should be. Work to live, don’t live to work as they say.

Find some balance, unless it is your baby

And yes I truly believe that. If your work is your own, your own company, your own creation, your own goals, then yes, go all in. If it means the world to you then give it the world. It’d be almost irresponsible not to. That isn’t to say you should over commit or forget about the rest of your life. After a long day (or week) of work, being able to switch off for a while isn’t cheating. It isn’t ignoring your goals. It isn’t you being lazy.

Many highly successful people carve out time blocks, sometimes as frequent as each day, and during this time, nothing work related exists. Come hell or high water, they are taking this time as their own and everything else can wait. For anyone working in computing, you probably already know of the benefit of downing tools and walking away when faced with a problem. Your mind can solve it even when you aren’t thinking about it. Over thinking is real!

The flipside

In Your Money or Your Life, the authors talk, quite literally, about how life is money and the true cost of working. Best way to explain it is what it costs for you to work, everything from the time travelling to and from work, to your lunches, to your work clothes. It all adds up and is rarely taken into account.

Perhaps you are building your own company and it has goals you believe it, or perhaps you think you do love your job, maybe you even do, but when its all gone, and inevitability it will be someday, will you look back and think, yeh, I did good, or will it fade away into the blur?

Now don’t get me wrong, working towards goals is good. I’d recommend settings lots and lots of goals to help you on the path, it is how I operate. Big goals are difficult to achieve, but break them down to small steps and each one is easy to do. Lots of these goals won’t match up when viewed from the proverbial deathbed either, that’s ok. A building is built brick by brick, and few bricks are as memorable as the end piece, but forgot that first brick and it could all fall down.

Is there a point to any of this?

I guess my overall point is that taking time out to create the map, even if it means you miss your achievement or goal, isn’t really time wasted. 10 Miles in the wrong direction is still 10 Miles in the wrong direction.Getting started is important, but so is knowing where you are going. Knowing where you want to end up lets you know if this really is something you should be doing, or just noise along the way.

A year in review – The benefits of a golden goal [2010]

Sitting here, listening to Auto Rock by Mogwai, a tune iconised by Top Gear, I begin thinking back to a year, 7000km of cycling with my Cervelo S2. And what a year it has been. What started as a “how hard could it be” moment, went on to become one of the most rewarding things to do – La Marmotte.

But with passing 7000km on Sunday gone, and winter really being here now, it’ll very soon be time to hang up the good bike and switch back to the winter trainer, full mud guards an all. The big thing now, is to set some goals. Some real goals, with feeling. Last year La Marmotte proved to be the defining goal, one that got me out of bed at 5am in the dead of winter, battling the ice and snow and pitch black to do hill repeats – and then enjoying it too. I calculated that I made more than a 30% increase in performance on 3Rock (the hill we do hill repeats on) between signing up for the Marmotte, and the week before the event.

In no small part, I owe much of the improvement to my trainer, Ryan Sherlock. He also became Irish National Hill Climb Champion recently which allows me to say I get trained by the National Champion. Nice. To top it off, he also won the MTB Champs letting him retain his national champion title there too. Word has it he is the first man to hold national titles in both road and off road in the same year in Ireland. Talk about getting trained by the best!

But in reflecting on the year, I’ve seen that it wasn’t just one thing that made it such a good year. Lots of little things fell into place. My Cervelo S2 really helped. It was a reward for hitting a weight goal of 85kg although I did go slightly over board when buying it. It is a such a different machine compared to my Giant. Stiffer, more responsive, and even more comfortable which might seem strange since it is a full on race bike with aero wheels, while the Giant is a commuter with 25mm tyres and a more relaxed position.

Having the Marmotte as a goal was another big thing. Needing something to get out of bed on those mornings, well when you have no goal, there is nothing to get out bed for. Even with the Marmotte I took some days I probably shouldn’t have. Or maybe less cake and I wouldn’t have worried about those 4 seconds. Not having a firm goal now does show although this last week I’ve covered over 400km as my stomach is back so the motivation is just to cycle as much as I can while I can.

A training partner also makes a world of a difference. My friend Peter was also training for the Marmotte and was out for the hill repeats on those Tuesday mornings. Even coming along on the long weekend rides – well at least one a week, I was doing a fair bit of training. It does help with those dull gray days when you struggle to get out to know that someone else is doing the same. That someone else is equally as dumb motivated.

Starting from a high weight (I was 229 lbs / 28.8% body fat back in Dec 08) played a part too strange as it might seem. Loosing weight makes you faster on the hills. Plain and simple. But when you are training for a ever so slightly hilly event, well hill climbing times are what is about. And since I was dropping weight, I was getting faster on the hills. Psychologically it helped. You see the times dropping and that object of just finishing gets closer and closer, and then soon becomes a maybe I can do better. Maybe, just maybe.

Body fat Graph over the period

Without any one of these, the house of cards may have fallen down. I don’t really know. I wouldn’t be where I am today cycling wise, I know that much. Every bit of success has an element of luck, but every bit of luck also has a bit of blood, sweat and tears, and that is the part you rarely see.

From the falls on the ice, to somehow not falling while navigating a hill in total blackness and only using the difference in colour of grass and tarmac, to crossing a line thinking I’d missed a goal by 4 seconds, to winning my first race. For all the mechanical issues, the punctures, the crashes. Each added its own small part. Each one made the year a year to remember.