Friday thoughts #11: Goals


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question I ask people a lot. A lot of folks wander around aimlessly with no ambitions. Many just want to be happy and content, which is arguably the most laudable goal of all. What many miss though is what is it that makes them happy. If you know what that is then you are more likely to do the things that make you happy, and, well, we know what that brings.

But when it comes to goals there is a phrase known as thematic goal that applies in a lot of business contexts and I thought I’d bring it to life in running. And, as a special one-off, I am even going to further bring it to life with an image. This is like the Ferrero Rocher adverts “with these images you are spoiling us” you are all thinking. No? Oh well…

Here’s an example below that may relate to many of you.

Thematic Goal, James StewartThe thematic goal is the over-riding, top line aim. You can put anything you want in here. It can be for any time period ahead you wish. For example, if you are injured today it may well be that it is simply to run pain free. If so, then the boxes underneath, which I would recommend 4-6 as the ideal number, all have to directly influence that aim. If they don’t then they must be removed. A longer term aim may be to run 100 miles, get an international vest, or complete an iconic race like London Marathon or UTMB.

Take a moment to think what your thematic goal is. Use gut feel and go with the first thing that comes to mind. Then, list the 4-6 things that would influence that. Now you have the bones of a plan. You’ve internally vocalised what is important to you. Do you know why? It’s ok if it is ego, I will talk about that another time.

Once you know what the things are that underpin your thematic goal you can start really go after the specifics. If we take the outline above, Mobility might be to resolve an underlying issue in a certain area. Speed could be you just want to get faster. Endurance is obvious, and without mobility and speed in a good space this could be a struggle. Then there is the Mental Game, the motivation, the belief and all that. If you build the first 3 the 4th becomes easier, right? And you may well want to lose weight, learn to eat when running or just generally eat better. That’s Nutrition right there.

Now, I don’t want to be Captain Obvious here but you’ve probably already noticed how these things intertwine and are not mutually exclusive?

What is your thematic goal and do you know what it will take to build the foundations on which to land it? I find taking the time to do this really helps me sharpen the focus on what I am doing and why. It gives everything from the 15 minute stretching set after a session to the 40 mile training run a purpose. Last year my #1 aim was to put myself in contention for the GB 24 hour team. I shared this with only a few people, but enough to help me realise that goal. Without planning it out, from the race calendar to keeping harmony in life and running, I reckon I’d have failed. I’d have missed my goal. I’d have found excuses. Instead, I put it front and centre and was absolutely 100% directing my actions to this. Every race I did last year built to that goal, and I even had a back-up plan or two.

What’s that? What is my thematic goal this year? Well, if you crew for me, live with me or coach me you’d already know.

Patrick Lencioni was the first person I ever heard use the phrase thematic goal. He was talking about a tyre company so you can see the parallel here. The link is obvious eh? If you wanna read more then the link you need is obvious too. It is this one here! Here I talk about positive disruption.

My goal this week is to see you share this post… 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. great post as usual 🙂
    Now… what’s mine??

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