Goals versus Maintenance

In 1982 I set a goal.

Run a full marathon without stopping.

I completed that marathon, with stopping – meeting my goal.

Goal accomplished…now what was driving me? Nothing. Up to that point, I had a motivating factor driving my daily actions. One: my dad, my coach.  Two: my personal ego - hopefully not in an arrogant way, but just the excitement of achieving something most have not. Plus I was driven by the fact that my dad had already run nearly 50 of his 66 marathons, and maybe a marathon would truly qualify me as his son. And three: once committed to training, I had no interest in not accomplishing the goal only to have to repeat all the effort, time and discipline just to “try” again. Nope. Once and done for me!

But what happens once the goal is accomplished? Where is the motivation? What is the driver? What keeps us moving forward This is why the diet industry makes up billions of dollars of repeat buyers each year.

Goals are fantastic. But they have an end. They lead to a plateau, and in many cases, a valley. 

While I love goals, and they’re critically important, I’d like to advocate for something in between.

Maintenance.

Not very exciting, I know. And that’s often why maintenance is not enough to drive us to follow the disciplines for daily actions.

But maintenance is necessary for many reasons.

One: it helps us stay at or near the level we accomplished by chasing the goal. Two: it helps us honor what matters to us. For example, often people, like me who set the marathon goal, really are honoring the long-term purpose of good health, energy and stress management which leads to better quality of life.  By following some level (not nearly as extreme) of the daily disciplines to achieve the marathon, I may not be setting myself up for the next race, but I’m building the philosophy and consequent habits to make good health a reality – by chasing it daily.  And with good disciplines in place, setting and striving toward the next goal is that much easier. 

Last year I set a goal to listen to the Bible in a year, which I did. This year, I’ve committed to reading the Bible daily, but there’s no goal…It’s just maintenance.

If you’re not chasing a goal – sales success, running a marathon, losing weight or something else, be sure to find actions you can engage in daily to keep the momentum and honor what matters most to you through daily maintenance. Because maintenance leads to growth. It helps us to live consistently in the benefits of the journey rather than just basking in the success of the destination.