With our myriad of responsibilities and encroaching commitments, how do we avoid getting caught in the unending to do lists and instead get clear and stay focused on our biggest dreams?
Practice setting impossible goals – that tap into your deepest desires.
Years ago I came across this quote from Alice in Wonderland -
“Alice said, “there’s no use trying . . . . One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was younger, I always did it for a half hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” - Alice in Wonderland
When I first came across that quote, I committed to 6 impossible things for the year. One of them was to run a half marathon. If I had set my sights on a 10K with the goal of simply losing a few pounds, that goal and the reason wouldn’t have inspired me. If it got hard, if I got too busy, very likely I would have given up. If I set my sights on a marathon – I think my body would have rebelled. I would have been depleted by the effort and the time commitment would have felt like a sacrifice taking me away from other important priorities. But this impossible goal inspired me.
I had never run more than 3 miles – and at 5’3″ and a DD, I was pretty sure my body was not made for running. So a 10K might have been a more “reasonable” goal. But my dad was just diagnosed with a type of blood cancer and was undergoing chemo, and I was sad, angry and feeling powerless.
My deepest desire was to feel like I was contributing to my dad, to feel strong and powerful, and to feel calm instead of sad and angry. Pounding the pavement and raising money with Team in Training seemed like an impossible goal that could to hold my attention, that I could stay committed to even when it was hard, because it tapped into my deepest desires.
The thought of me running a half marathon was definitely a stretch, it sounded ridiculous, and yet it had me giggling and exhilarated. It didn’t seem possible – and yet I knew in my body it was something I needed to do. (Do you have a 2015 goal that you know you need to do?)
At the time I began running – 1.5 miles was a long run, I was exhausted, and it seemed like there was no way I could achieve my goal. But I stayed in the inquiry of 4 key questions -
if I am to finish my impossible goal –
1 Who do I need to be?
2 How do I need to grow?
3 What do I need to do?
4 And what support do I need?
I’ll be writing more about those questions and my own impossible goal for 2015 in the future – but it all started with acknowledging my desire for this impossible goal – even if the path forward had not yet emerged.
As for the half marathon – I did make it across the finish line – which by itself may sound like the achievement. A beautiful gift was that the process of training in San Francisco while my sister trained in Oregon brought us together truly as adult friends.
Yet, I discovered the real reason I needed to run when my parents came to watch the race and my dad had the life altering opportunity to meet many people not dying from, but living with cancer. And my dad, still recovering from his treatment, with no hair and little energy met us at mile 12 and scooted his way with us to the finish line.
And when I first felt the desire to run a half marathon – I could feel the desire, the pull – and it felt absolutely impossible.
What is your impossible goal for this year?
The one that gets you excited, that inspires you and yet that feels out of reach?
What is your deep desire, how do you want to feel – and how can that sustain you when the path isn’t easy?