I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: in parenthood, the days last forever and the months fly by. Before you know it, your newborn is walking, then talking in full sentences, then mastering new skills every day. The same phenomenon that makes these major milestones come and go in an instant can thwart even our best efforts to accomplish our goals.
Earlier this year, I ran my first race – CrazyLegs, an 8k race and community institution in the Madison area. For many, finishing a race is a mere occurrence, but to me it was a feat that marked a new approach to accomplishment: setting an achievable but stretch goal.
I’ve always been competitive (to a fault), enjoyed sweating, and maintained a fairly rigorous pre-baby regimen. My workouts were never scientific; mostly I would combine cardio with yoga and weights. And I have never been a runner.
But, along with the joys of parenthood came the challenge to balance priorities. And for me, self-care and personal accomplishments are the first to go. In my efforts to be a doting and attentive mom, a fun and supportive wife, a high performer at work, a friend who remembers to communicate, and a human that has time to eat and sleep – fitness just wasn’t making the cut as often as it did before. And I felt the mental effects more than I noticed the physical ones.
Enter goal-setting. I started small by committing to a routine of one hot yoga class per week, supplemented with running or any type of at-home workout twice per week. A total of less than three hours per week. Then, I held myself accountable. My coworkers had the great idea to practice shared accountability. We each set our own fitness goals, then marked how many days per week we achieved them. We celebrated as a group. There were many weeks where the thought of marking my third and final workout of the week on the whiteboard forced me to make time for myself – even 20 minutes – and I am so grateful for that.
These days, there are so many things I set aside (knowingly or on accident) to focus on my family, my work and the constant battle to give my best to every area of my life. When I ran across the finish line at CrazyLegs, I felt a sense of accomplishment that had been missing. And it was all because I set a goal, for myself. I held myself accountable. I finished. Our free time is limited as parents, but we should never, ever stop setting goals for ourselves. After all, what kind of example would that set for our little ones?