Since 2010, I started my journey on becoming a serious marathon runner and stick to it and even started doing the even more complex and time-consuming sport — triathlon since 2015. It has been ten years and I am still enjoying the endurance sport and keep pursuing better performance year after year. However, in the same decade, I somewhat struggled with other non-sports related goals like becoming a CPA and pursuing coding mastery.
Meanwhile, I am also enthusiastic about self-improvement and have been reading a dozen books about the topic. I am wondering how my journey of pursuing greatness in my selected fields can be related to several frequently mentioned attributes of sticking to a goal. I believe the following are the four most important reasons.
1. Strong Motivation Binding with Your Core Value
You need to be honest with yourself. What moves you at some point and makes you want to commit all your energy and resources to pursue that goal. I started to run to lose weight but the real reason that I can keep doing this is that I believe I can achieve something beyond what I am capable of. I want to run a full marathon and also want to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which is the most prestigious marathon among amateur runners. By the same token, I started to pick up my swimming and bought a bike to prepare for my first triathlon was when I watched the Ironman Kona documentary presented by NBC when I was waiting in an emergency room for treating my bacterial infection. The documentary just touches my mind at the moment when I am very vulnerable.
However, I do not have that strong touching feeling that happened when I decided to take the CPA exam or learn to code. I just feel I need to do them for my career.
2. You Need to Have Fun and Enjoy the Process
Enjoy the process is kind of like a cliché but is still an essential element to make goals stick. It will be hurt and challenging either mentally and physically to pursue any goals you might have. Feeling alone is probably the norm of the process since anything worth going after will be unique journeys for different people. You might find others’ footprints, but you still need to take your steps forward. If you don’t find the process is fun and enjoyable even if you need to step outside of your comfort zone, you cannot sustain long. Training for races can be grueling sometimes especially when the intensity and volume go up, but I can embrace the uncomfortable and understand this is the stepping stone to the next level.
Studying for the CPA exam, however, is not so fun for me. And no wonder I cannot sustain long. When it comes to coding, I do find sometimes it is enjoyable, but the feeling of lost when I need to spend a long time to figure out how to make something works usually is the point that I think I am not good at this.
3. You Need Frequent Check Points
For the past ten years, I participated in 3 to 5 races each year. Races are my checkpoints to make me accountable and stay on track. They are mid-term or final examinations for a training cycle. To have those races filled in, I can have short-term goals instead of feeling walking in a long tunnel without light insight.
I did feel lost when I was preparing for my CPA exam and learning to code. They are long and lonely journeys. I felt my directions were lost frequently and cannot find a way to feel stay on track.
4. The Rewarding Is Important
Every running race is a test for my fitness so I can know if I am improving or not. A sense of achievement would make people be proud of their hard works and come back again. Because of my hard training pays off, I make the podium quite frequently.
However, for my pursuit of the CPA and coding mastery, I did not find an effective rewarding mechanism. I barely passed two sections of my CPA exam and failed the rest. For my coding journey, the reward is probably I suddenly found a solution for a tricky problem. But that feeling is just not strong enough for me compared to the endorphins rush that running gives me.
I do give up my CPA certificate altogether, but I am trying to give my coding journey a boost. I am trying to analyze the mindset I possess when I am training for my Boston Marathon and Ironman and would like to apply the methodology to improve my coding skills. I believe these four points are what matters most to stay on track and keep performing well on any goals that are worth to pursue.