Monday, May 27, 2013

Values, Roles, and Goals, Part 3

In Part 2, we looked at how values can help to define the roles you play in life. Goals are the tools we use to help bring out roles into line with the things we consider to be important

Choosing a goal isn't that hard. Let's come back to the gym for a while. Your new trainer asks why you want to work with a Persona Trainer. You hadn't really tried to put it into words before...

"Well, you know... I work out because I want to get fit and lose weight."

My trainer friends tell me that 95% of new clients are going to present with some variation on this theme. "I'm weak and fat. I want to be strong and thin. "

Strong and thin is not a goal. It is a motivation. What makes a goal different? You've heard this before I'll bet. The best goals are SMART.
Specific: You can state your goal in one simple sentence.
Measurable: You have a number to tell you when you have reached it.
Attainable:  It is challenging, but realistically possible.
Relevant: You care about achieving it.
Timely: You have a deadline.
See why "I want to lose weight" isn't a goal? It isn't SMART. Here's a stab at something a little more useful...
I want to lose 15 pounds in the next three months so I can look fantastic at my high school reunion in October.
Or how about this one...
I want to be able to swim 400 yards so I can qualify for lifesaving class in March.
Here's a tricky one.
I want to be fit so I can be alive to play with my grandchildren.
Staying alive may be a value for you, but it isn't a goal. You can't measure it. Even worse, you can't actually achieve it. There will never be a point in time when you can look up and say, "Hey, I did it! I stayed alive," because you won't be finished, yet. You will always have farther to go.

Still, there's no question that there is a powerful value at the heart of your statement. How do you piick a goal that leads toward that value: playing with your grandkids? A SMART goal is not so much a destination as it is a milestone along the way. Once you reach it, it's time to pick a new milestone. Use your values as your compass. Then choose goals that lead you toward the things that are important to you. 
I want to be able to bend over and lift  a 50 pound child over my head by the time the kids come to visit in August.
Now you're talking. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep it real. Make it matter. And make it urgent! That's the SMART way to set a goal. Here's mine for the summer.
I want to get below 20% body fat by October so I can knock 20 minutes off my time in the Iron Horse Half Marathon.
Now THAT's a goal. I know what I want, and I know how to tell when I've reached it. Does it matter to me? It makes my mouth water, just thinking about breaking two hours in the Half. Even more important, being stronger and faster will help me to work harder and stay alert longer when I work at the Y or at home. The things I learn will make be a better trainer and give me even more things to write about here. And my lower body fat percentage will improve my life in many ways beyond just lowering my time in the Half.

So how do I get there from here? That will take process. I'll have to do lots of research. Ask for advice. Make a plan and stick with it. But those are the "How?" questions. They're a lot easier to answer once you know what you want, and why you want it.


Eat clean. Run hard. Lift heavy. Sleep well.

Values, Roles, and Goals, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at ways to identify just what our values are, and to discover whether we're living our lives consistently with those values. When we find, as I did, that the way we're living does not reflect what's really important to us, goals can help to bring our life into line. But goals don't just come out of thin air.

How to build a bridge between our values and our goals? Here's an idea that I stole from Stephen Covey, who stole it from someone else, I suppose. Make a list of the roles you play in life. Here's mine, in no particular order:

  • Grown-up
  • Trainer
  • Athlete
  • Child of God
  • Writer
  • Son
  • Friend
  • Husband
It's going to be interesting to compare your values list with your roles. Remember mine?
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Fitness
  4. Service
  5. Finances
  6. Hospitality
  7. Learning
  8. Writing
At first, it may seem like there's a one-to-one relationship between the two lists, but actually, there will be aspects of several values in each role.

As a grown-up, I have responsibilities to take care of my money, to look after my family, to stay fit and to continue to grow spiritually and intellectually. 

In my role as trainer, I have to stay fit and knowledgeable of course, but I also have to offer hospitality and service to my clients.

Do you see how values can shape the roles we all play every day? In Part 3 of this series, we'll take a look at how those values can help to define goals that are meaningful and consistent with the rest of our lives.


Eat clean. Run hard. Lift heavy. Sleep well.

Values, Roles, and Goals, Part 1

Before you get in your car, it's almost always best to know where you are going. Knowing how to get there helps, (of course there's always the GPS or the dreaded "stop and ask for directions,) but knowing where you want to end up is crucial. Otherwise, all you're doing is burning gas and spinning your wheels. Wellness is like that. If you have a goal in mind, you can always find your way, or find someone to point you in the right direction. Otherwise, all you're doing is sweating.

So, how to pick a goal? The first and most important step is to ask youself, "What is important to me?" If you don't know what your values are, what matters to you, then you will never be able to chose a goal that points you in the direction you want to go. Your values are your compass.

So, what are your values? Here's one way to find out. Start with a list of the things you value the most. Mine might look like this:

  • God
  • Family
  • Service
  • Fitness
  • Writing
  • Learning
  • Financial security
  • Hospitality
Next, find your priorities. Put your list in order of the things you think are most important.
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Fitness
  4. Service
  5. Financial Security
  6. Hospitality
  7. Learning
  8. Writing
Now here's the hard part, and the one that requires a lot of honesty. Where do you spend most of your time? What gets most of your energy? Here's the same list, only ranked by my actual personal investment in each.

  1. Fitness (3)
  2. Service (4)
  3. Writing (8)
  4. Learning (7)
  5. Finances (5)
  6. Family (2)
  7. God (1)
  8. Hospitality (6)
A little out of whack, isn't it? Integrity is when your life and your values are consistent with one another. Looks like mine could use a little polishing.

Fitness is the physical ability to do the things you want to do. Wellness is something bigger. Wellness is getting you mind, body, and spirit firing on all cylinders. Before you even think about exercising, it's worth taking a look at your life as a whole, and seeing just how fitness fits into your wellness program. 

What does my second list say? Looks like this client is using exercise to avoid other, more difficult things. He says he values God and Family above everything else, but he spends less time on them than nearly anything. His pursuits take him inside himself, or outside the house. Looks like the man has some adjusting to do or exercise just might become counter-productive for him: a way to hide from other important parts of his life. 

Next time, we'll look at a way this fellow might use to bring his life back into alignment with his values. Only then will he be able to set goals that contribute meaningfully to his overall wellness.


Eat clean. Run hard. Lift heavy. Sleep well.

Welcome To A Whole 'Nother Thing

Today, I'm launching Run Bob, Run. It's going to be a very different kind of blog than the ones I've written over the past few years. Pennsyltuckian was about my spiritual life. Fat Man Running started out as a diary of my exercise life, but it evolved into a blog about running, cancer, mental health, and whatever else came into my life that day.

Run Bob, Run is going to be a little more intentional. I want it to be a magazine about wellness. That means more carefully crafted and researched articles. Less intimate revelation. More information to help you on your own wellness journey. I'll even have guests contribute from time to time. I hope you find it to be a useful tool, and look forward to hearing from you through the comments sections.


Eat clean. Run hard. Lift heavy. Sleep well.