How I learned to set great goals

by Amy  - December 28, 2015

I might be a slow learner.

It seems like some people wake up and say hey – I think I’ll do an Ironman. Then they just go out and effortlessly make it happen.

My thinking position. This tree is just about big enough to put this hammock in the shade which will be good since we aren't having winter this year in Miami.
My thinking position. This tree is just about big enough to put this hammock in the shade which will be good since we aren’t having winter this year in Miami.

I wasn’t like that. I struggled with the idea and then figuring out how I could make it happen. In fact my road to my first Ironman was about 18 months of planning. But I had already learned to set goals so making that initial plan was something I new how to do.

Goal setting took me a long time to learn. This is how I learned it.

When I look back there were three different lessons.

First I learned to make a plan

First was in my 20s when my boss sent me to actually a time-managment class. He sent my whole department I wasn’t singled out as inefficient. That was the first time I learned about having an intentional plan for my day which was a big first step.

Then I learned to Make a SMART plan

Fast forward about 6 years and I was at a weekend seminar about meeting planning. At the time I was part of a team planning about 400 meetings of various sizes per year so it was spot on. The most important thing I learned at that conference was that  I didn’t want to be planning meetings for the rest of my life.

Once I made that connection I picked  a personal growth workshop out of the curriculum to attend. That was where I was first exposed to the SMART method of goal setting. I was very fired up by that workshop. I did take a big step forward by setting measurable goals going forward. But I was still using goals set by my boss although I didn’t actually realize that at the time.

Lastly I learned about finding my own intentional goals

Finally, years later when I had my own business. I fell into a coaching group that had quarterly planning sessions. It was a half day session devoted to setting goals.

That is where for me the pieces all came together.  I went in that morning with a 300 item to do list. I came out with a 90 day action plan and that night I had the best night of sleep I’d had in months. Followed by the most productive 90 days of my business.

For the first time as the business owner I was able to set my own goals and I had to be taught that difference between making a to do list and making an intentional plan.

This was a real aha moment for me and I stuck with this group for 2 years. In fact, in my final quarterly goal setting session with this group I made a very tearful plan to close that business because it was no longer in line with my other life goals.

Ironman is a part of my life

Ironman like anything else has to fit in your life. This is of course an obvious statement.

Still, at least once a week somebody asks me how I make it all work. The simple answer is that I don’t just wing it. I don’t get up every day and say … what will I do today? Should I go to the PTA meeting or should I run my intervals?

Nope, I make a plan and then all I have to do is execute on that plan.  When I said I wanted to do an Ironman it was about 18-months or 2 years before I actually raced one. That was my plan.

This year some things happened that brought me to this point where I needed to put some big thought into this again. First, my coach retired. He was a big part of my plan. Pick a race. Tell the coach. Follow his plan. So I started looking for a coach and they as part of the process started asking me questions … like what was my goal. That forced me to sit down and say to myself hmmm what is my goal?

Do you have a plan? Is an Ironman part of your goals for your future? Would you like to see my plan? I’m happy to share how I do it. Just reach out.


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Amy Stone (she/her/hers) is a life coach who helps adults in blended families. She is a mom, step-mom and a step-grandma. Other random fun facts include that She is a 7-time Ironman triathlon finisher and many many marathons and shorter races. She created

  • I’m allergic to crhloine, so the challenge is a no-go for me, but I really like this idea. REALLY like it. I think it sounds like a great way to make sure that you work in so many different forms of exercise.Just make sure to listen to that foot of yours, lady. You are absolutely not allowed to injure it more through this project. I need you healthy and running strong this spring!

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