Sajal Choudhary

I tell stories

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Does setting a goal really help you?


I run.

I love to.

The first time I tried to fall in love with it, was when I had just been diagnosed with type one. I had to. And that was, well, the reason for the failure I think. Though, I don’t think I’m the sort of person, who can be forced to fall in love with something.

Life continued, and then, for a couple of months I had to leave home, to stay in Hyderabad. Work. That, was when I fell in love with the running. It was liberating. It was my way of de-stressing. I formed my daily schedule around it, and I remember one day, breaking the schedule to go out, while it drizzled out, because I was under pressure. The run lifted me. And I just, fell in love with it. It required no effort. I mean of course, it required for me to get up at four, shit, get out, and actually run, but hey, I was in love!

Still am.

These days I go to the gym. The beautiful, early morning runs are just not possible.

This post is not about my love for running. By this point, you must know how the usual post works here. I start with something, and then tell you, it’s not what this post is about. I can’t help it. I love telling stories. It’s what I do!

Getting back to the subject of this post then. Today, as I finished my run, with no ideas about the subject of today’s post, I realized something. The clock was getting closer to the stipulated thirty minute reading, and I had run close to four kilometers. I was running still, and as I inched closer to the four kilometer mark, I decided to cut the pace, and begin to walk. As I did so, I realized that I had chosen to do so, not because I was tired, but, because, in my head, I had this target set, of completing four kilometers. So, as soon as I hit the four kilometer mark, I stopped making the effort. I was satisfied with what I had done.

I have not had a five kilometer run till date. The distance tracking is hard when I’m not in the gym, so, five kilometers on the treadmill. I have started hitting the four kilometer mark, quite recently in fact. I was not doing anything for the past one year. There have been multiple reasons for it, somebody always ends up hovering around the treadmill, or I get the machine a little too late. So on, and henceforth. It is a sort of mental barrier in my head. I am planning to break it soon. But as I slowed down, getting aware of the state my body was in, I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could have had that five kilometer today.

I didn’t though. Call it inertia, or whatever. It is easier to sustain running, than to stop, and start. I had stopped. My mind had told my legs to stop doing what they were doing. I had met the target.

I’m not sure if you got the analogue or not. (I’m assuming that you did) (Not that it matters, I’m going to talk about it now)

I wonder if the goals do us any good. See, there is a whole big crate of articles on the art, and benefits of note-taking, list-making, goal-setting, so on, and henceforth. But as with my running, once you’ve hit the goals, you lose the momentum, the desire, the fire to do more, irrespective of what you could have done, what your capabilities were. You just stop in your tracks. Inertia is a bitch.

Now, there are two ways to tackle the situation, you either create goals, that you know are impossible to achieve. You guarantee then, that you’re always in pursual, but, a couple of other things happen here. The value of the goals is hugely diminished. I mean, if you keep losing, faring bad at something, again, and again, and again, and again, daily, then you stop looking at the damn thing.. you stop caring about it. No one likes pain. The second thing that happens is, okay, I think I covered both up there: the value of goals diminishes, and you lose steam, motivation.

The other way to go about is creating a dynamic, feedback based system, wherein you create a new goal, as soon as you see you are approaching the old goal. Not sure about this, but this is what came to my head intuitively.

Of course, there is the option to dismantle the system all together. Why have any goals? But there are far too many holes in that question. The thing is all people are wired differently. Some can’t imagine their lives without the lists. Some are bothered by it. Some don’t care.

At the end of it all, I think it is about balance. Like every other damn thing in life, it is about the balance between the two.