Setting any type of long-term goal can be daunting. The future is uncertain, and what you want to achieve years from now can change over time.
But long-term goals should not be feared, says Elizabeth Garami MSM ’19, who speaks from experience. In 2018, Garami completed her mission of running a half-marathon in all 50 states.
Garami, who works as a licensing manager in the Office of Research and Economic Development, started training as just a casual runner.
“The most common thing about goal setting is we are afraid to let ourselves down. Goal-setting is an achievement. Actually, by not setting a goal, it is the easiest way to let yourself down,” Garami says.
Here are three tips from Garami that will help you manage and accomplish long-term goals.
1. Talk to people who have achieved the same goal
When Garami started training for her races across the country, she had lots of questions. How do runners prepare for the cold? How should you run up hills? What should you do if you get injured?
She found answers by talking with people at races and joining running groups in Miami and on Facebook.
“Discussing your goal with others that have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of what you want to achieve is very useful. It gives you direction,” Garami says.
2. Break your goal into small chunks
“It wasn’t like I woke up and I said, “OK, I want to be a half-marathon runner,” Garami says.
She started with 5-kilometer races, then moved up to 10-kilometer races, building her endurance up slowly but surely. Garami found areas outside of Florida that had higher elevations and went on hikes.
When the time came to run 13.1 miles through the likes of Yellowstone National Park and the woodlands of Washington, she was prepared.
“If you would have said to me, ‘Hey, I want you to run 655 miles,’ which is the equivalent distance between FIU and the Atlanta airport, I would have said, ‘Nah.’ But the cool thing about running is that you learn how to take a big, humongous goal and break it into smaller pieces,” Garami says.
3. Celebrate your achievements and keep it fun
Not every goal can go according to plan. That is why it is important to cherish the small victories, Garami says.
“Understand that you don’t have 100 percent control of things. Things may change, your values may change, your circumstances may change, and don’t hit yourself too hard when things change. Just step back and realize that you’ve come a long way and done it in little increments. When you add them all up they add up to a lot. Celebrate your small increments,” Garami says.
For example, to reward herself for her hard work, Garami picked a special state for her last half-marathon: Alaska. Her friends from Canada made the trip over with custom T-shirts to support her.
Whatever your goal is, Garami adds, it helps to go back and revisit why you set it.
Even if you don’t achieve it, you will probably be better off than if you never set a goal at all.
“Goals give you guidance, light and direction on things that you want to choose,” Garami says. “It’s a way to bring your values to life.”