Have you ever set a big audacious goal and failed? Is everything lost? Can you recover? Last fall I publicly stated in several speeches my intention to ride my bicycle coast-to-coast this summer.
I didn't make it.
Six months should have been long enough for me to prepare for 100 miles per day on the bike.
What happened? My training started in November, riding indoors with a bicycle mounted on a resistance trainer.
Yet, in May, with three weeks remaining before my departure for the west coast, I had to postpone the trip.
I had not attained the necessary strength and endurance.
In recent weeks I have talked to many of the people I told about my goal.
Telling these people about my failure led me to reflect on the goal and the lessons learned.
I should have had plenty of time to be fit for the ride.
Why did I fail? What lesson can you learn from my mistake? My longest training day three weeks before the ride was just over 40 miles.
I needed to be able to handle 80 to 100 miles each day.
The goal for the transcontinental ride was more than 3000 miles.
My average speed would have required more than eight hours in the saddle daily.
Typically, you can increase your mileage about 10 percent each week.
My greatest mistake was failing to properly track my weekly training and add 10 percent for the next week's goal.
I did increase my time on the trainer.
My increases were not at the rate necessary to stay on target.
On the plus side, I did achieve another goal, maintaining my weight throughout the winter.
Failure to total my weekly efforts and apply the increase for the following week was enough to put my dream in abeyance again.
Any mid to long term goal is potentially subject to the same failure I encountered.
A basic precept of goal setting is that the goal must be measurable.
Knowing that my overall goal required 100 miles per day, I could have done the math backwards, to find the weekly mileage required to stay on track.
I didn't do it.
I knew what to do and how to do it and I didn't do it.
This is a matter of self leadership.
I am the only one responsible for failing to be prepared on time.
Review your own goals.
Make sure they are measurable.
Are you measuring your progress toward longer term goals? Have you broken the goal into stages and measured your progress against the sub-goals? Set weekly or even daily goals.
Failure to do so may jeopardize your entire mission.
Another mistake I made was in the way I recorded my training.
I used small separate pieces of paper to log my workouts for a few days or sometimes a week.
Let me assure you that organizing on scraps of paper leads to failure sooner rather than later.
Recently, I found many of those scraps of paper to the right of my mouse, behind the coaster for my coffee cup, under more scraps of paper.
As spring approached I did improve my tracking system.
I started recording my daily training on a calendar.
At least my week's progress was in plain view in one place.
Even then I didn't take the time to properly add up the total for the week and calculate the next week's goal.
In hind sight it all sounds so simple.
A few minutes a week tracking my progress would have shown that I was falling behind in February and March.
The tyranny of the urgent can quickly derail your plans.
Find a way to track you data.
A simple spreadsheet would have made my tracking job easy.
The numbers would have clearly shown me I was falling behind.
Find the right way to measure and track your progress.
It has been somewhat painful to tell so many people, who have asked about my ride, that it has been postponed.
The lesson learned has been costly to my pride.
I've learned a valuable lesson in following through to be sure that I stay on track as I move toward longer term goals.
I failed to start my dream bicycle ride.
You have a chance to learn from my failure.
Wisdom is learning from other peoples mistakes, instead of making the mistakes yourself.
Don't avoid big audacious goals.
Face them head on.
Don't fear failure.
Give your goal all of you've got.