Sunday, June 6, 2010

Of Goals and Attitude...fundamental life skills

So this is the second posting for my blog,  Wow, milestone.  I thought I’d start talking about how important goal setting and a good attitude are in life.  How they can affect everything around you. How setting goals can help you grow as a person, and how your acceptance of a situation is based on attitude.

For example…Every Wednesday night I get together with some friends and we go mountain biking on one of the many local trails.  I like this group because we have one basic thing in common, a positive outlook on life.  I am guaranteed to have a good time, and the chance to share in good conversation.  Two weeks ago we did one of our normal rides, but this time, at the top of the hill, three of our group of five decided we would ride a single track trail down the hill instead of going back down the dirt road we came up.

We parted ways with our other two friends and rode down the dirt road to the single track trailhead.  At that point we took the single track and started having a blast.  About a quarter of the way down the trail one of our crew took an over-the-handlebars spill, deftly avoiding getting tangled in the bike as he went over, he landed on his feet, but solidly on the bike’s fork.  I watched as his foot snapped the fork brace (that U shaped piece of metal connecting the two fork legs together).  Oh, boy.  Well, long story short we were able to piece things together enough order to allow the bike to be ridden and get him down the hill, but without a functional front brake. And off we went, finishing the ride with no further mishap.

I applaud his crash, commend the damage to his bike, and love that he went over the bars!!!  I can say this (having totaled a bike or two in my time), not that I want people to get hurt or see damage to their equipment, but when a mountain biker crashes it signifies something to me.  It signifies progress.

You see, in this case my friend had decided that he was at a level of riding that was comfortable.  And although comfort is good, in order to improve you need to set a goal.  During a conversation with one of the other riders, Daniel, he told me something that made a lot of sense in regards to setting goals, “In order for a goal to have any meaning, it needs to make you uncomfortable to achieve.”  I had never thought of it that way before.  But how true!  In order for a goal to give any personal satisfaction or to create any progress, you need to reach out of your comfort zone and learn something new.  You may not reach that goal the first time, but if you are persistent and continue to learn what you need to achieve that goal, the satisfaction, confidence, and  new level of  comfort is worth the effort.  When my friend crashed, he was pushing his comfort level, he had decided that he was ready to move forward and become faster and better at riding his mountain bike.  His crash was just a result of pushing the envelope a bit too much.

Now how does good attitude play into crashing and basically totaling your bike?  Easy, when he got up and the dust settled, his comment was, “I guess it’s time to buy that new bike.”  He looked at turning something that could easily have been taken as a negative into a positive.  His attitude was such that even though he had been telling me for several weeks that a new mountain bike was really not something he could afford, he now used this opportunity to support a positive outcome instead of becoming angry and upset at the damage.  He didn’t once complain about the crash.  He didn’t become depressed or morose.  He got onto the bike and finished the ride and  commented about how he now understands how important front brakes are (since the broken fork rendered the front brakes inoperable).

In effect, he set a new goal:  To purchase a new mountain bike that would allow him to continue to expand his abilities as a trail rider.  I’m sure the discomfort of this new goal will be explaining to his wife why he needs the money to do this….

Goal setting and attitude…fundamental to living life to it’s fullest.

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