I made a promise to myself. On ‘Day 1’, I said that I would take this personal ‘Camino’ journey to the end of 36 days, the exact number of days it took me to complete the Camino Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino journeys start strong and euphoric. As the days go by, the travel morphs into a struggle and then a comfortable and pleasant pace, but always with thoughts of moving forward, getting to the destination. The idea of stopping or quitting usually only comes when there is enough physical pain that continuing is not an option. No one on the Camino Santiago that I met, wanted to quit. Was it that the destination was important enough to draw us on? Was it that the competitive nature of the walkers wouldn’t allow for the shame of admitting defeat? Or, was it that one just enjoyed the whole journey and wanted to continue it for pleasure? Whatever the reason, very few pilgrims left the trail unless they just couldn’t continue walking.
The destination of this personal Camino is nebulous. Yes, one of the goals is to blog about the journey. Is this the end in itself? And, why is a goal important to have? And does it really motivate? Stephen Covey says, “Goals are the oxygen to our dreams. They are the first steps to every journey we take and are also our last”.
So what exactly is a goal? If you are like me, we make them and have them. According to wikipedia a goal is “A desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines”.
So in a nutshell, one could say that ‘a goal is a measurable result one would like to achieve in the future’. I looked back at Day 1 to see what I wrote about having a goal. I wrote “…is a more ambiguous destination, or should I say “journey” ? It is the destination of “contented direction” for me….” Today, when I look at how vague my goal actually was, I am not surprised that I have been a bit derailed these past few days and not kept going. Upon reflection, this Camino had seemed more about the journey rather than the destination, not a bad thing right? But what I found has happened, is that without have had an articulated goal, there is no reason to continue.
So why is it important to have a goal? How is it important to any challenge one takes on?
- Keeps the Focus: The walk on the Camino was directed by yellow arrows. If one followed them, you arrived at your destination. These arrows kept you focused, looking for the next one, and the next and the result of reaching each one kept one moving forward. A goal keeps your mind continually, and actively aware and focused. It gives you a sense of direction.
- Motivates: One “step” at a time and you are on the way to reach your goal. The yellow arrows acted as a motivating tool to the pilgrims who looked forward to seeing the next one at every turn. Having a goal is not the end in itself, nor is it a guarantee that that you will be successful. To reach any goal, there has to be steps….(how connected is that to the Camino?)….and with each step, one finds the motivation to move to the next step.
- Helps to overcome procrastination: Procrastinating, making excuses for not doing what you have set out to do. If you are like me, it tends be a default when the going gets tough. But because the journey to the goal has already been started and articulated, it can’t easily be forgotten without some fallout from the conscious decision to stop. The goal tends to become a part of you, part of your journey and it is difficult to stop this motion forward. The urge to procrastinate can be lessened if one makes a personal commitment to the goal and, if you are like me, you tend to be harder on yourself. I find it similar to standing in line at a grocery store with a long line in front of you. You have filled your basket with goodies and stand waiting. You are tempted to pack it all in because the line is moving so slow, but you realize that you have already invested 10 minutes waiting….and it is much harder to give up your position in line because you made the commitment to be there. So, you keep moving forward…
- Allows you to look back and see where you’ve come from and how you have progressed: When making a goal, a plan is a necessary “stepping stone” of how to get there. This plan should be a timeline of what you will do, when. This timeline allows one the special vantage point of viewing progress, and a benchmark on how well you are doing.
- Take control: There is nothing so debilitating than feeling out of control, that things are overwhelming and that you are being driven along a course, rather than you being in the driver’s seat and “taking control.” I know, I have been there. It is a feeling of floating, aimlessly floundering or at best, treading water. It is pretty difficult to be aimless with a goal, stepping stones, and assessments along the way. This keeps one moving and taking control over the next step. This is not to say that goals or stepping stones can’t change along the way. They can. It is always a dynamic process as one learns and grows along the way.
That’s the medicine. So where am I? Gulp! I am going to take my own medicine and move forward. Stop procrastinating and get on with it. I have looked over what I first intended to do and have made some small changes. So here they are…. I am making a change in my overall goal.The goal now is to write 4 more Camino blog entries with a stepping stone of writing one every 4 days. You may hear from me earlier, but in 4 days for sure:). This doesn’t compromise my promise to myself to blog and follow this personal Camino journey until day 36, so with this, I feel satisfied and confident to move forward once again:) Four more to go….!