Goals vs. Rules — there *is* a difference

So I kind of had an epiphany recently.  Remember OATT Syndrome and that god-awful case of it I had a few months back? Well, I’ve kept it at bay recently (mostly, anyway) and I think it’s because I’ve figured out that there is a difference (and a big one) between goals and rules.

For me, goals are milestones I set for myself — something to work towards, to reach for, to strive for.
Rules become mandates or things I must do, must tick off my list, must abide by.

For awhile, the line between my goals and my rules were blurring, overlapping — becoming one and the same.
…which is why I had a hard time embracing rest days.
…and struggled with being ok with adjustments in my workout ‘plan’ for the week (OMG I had to move a planned run from a Monday to a Wednesday, NO WAY)
…and was obsessed with being so goddamn perfect all the time (which clearly nobody can be) instead of striving for excellence instead.

The whole concept of rules vs. goals came into play recently with marathon training too — at the very beginning I was so fixated on my training plan and making sure I got EVERY mile of EVERY run in. But guess what? “LIFE” happens. Sometimes those running plans change — you’re super tired and can’t eek out that run, or at least not the run distance you planned on. Or you have to work late and can’t get the run in the way you want to. Or you have to sub an extra class at the studio which messes with your training schedule that week. Instead of letting it roll off my back, I’d get so frustrated, I’d OATT over my training plan until my sister told me to walk away from it, and it was getting a little bit ridiculous, quite honestly. I was stealing the joy right out of the process. 

But recently, something changed.

I realize that my training plan is just that — a plan. It’s not a mandate, not set in stone, not a must-do-or-die sort of thing. I mean really, we’re not talking life or death here.

I also trust my training a heck of a lot more now. I realize that if I don’t get one of my shorter runs in, or in the way I had planned (i.e. 8 miles vs. 10 or 7 vs. 9), I’m not going to crash and burn on race day. One run is not going to make or break me on October 7. I truly think our 20-miler last week is what sealed the deal for me. I know I can tackle 26.2 now, thanks to that 20 miler. But back to my real point here — my training plan is a plan, and I trust it, I trust that process.

I also realize that life isn’t a matter of a set of rules to live by, or mandates — it’s about living each day as best as you can, reaching for your goals and doing your darn best. It’s as simple as that.

…and it kinda goes back to the whole “just be” mantra, too.
(in a big way, actually)

So next time I start going into OATT mode over some silly ‘change’ in my day, my routine, my structure, my ‘norm’ — I’m going to refer back to this post (and if I don’t, someone PLEASE play the tough love game with me and use my words against me!!). It’s the reminder I need now as we head into the final weeks (!) of training, but also after the marathon, when I can settle back and revisit my life, setting a new ‘normal’ for myself all over again. (which I’ll definitely need to do given some other big changes in life for me…something I’ll share with you guys soon, I promise)

So now I ask you — do you see a big difference between goals and rules or do they blur a lot for you, too (for better or worse)?

<<And PS apologies in advance for such a serious post for a Friday…and for a Friday before a long weekend in fact. Geez 😉 >>


26 thoughts on “Goals vs. Rules — there *is* a difference

  1. The lines used to blur for me A LOT. But I feel like I’ve grown up over the past 2 years and have learned the difference. I’m a lot more relaxed and zen than I ever used to be. Hehe. 🙂

  2. I like this post! I’m training for my first half marathon right now, and I have shin splints. I have to ignore my training plan for now and take some time to rest, but it pains me to do it! I just keep reminding myself that training plans can be modified.

  3. Ahhh!! I love this! And was just thinking about it myself. I have a fresh start coming soon and was thinking about the things I’ve made “rules” and I want to throw them out the window! I’m done being that person and using this opportunity to start fresh. A life reset if you will. It’s amazing what we learn while training for a marathon isn’t??

    P.S. I LOVE how alike we are!

  4. I think this is a HUGE shift! For both of us, really. Such a good point, very perceptive, the difference between rules and goals, and NOT allowing them to blur and not being so rigid in plans etc. I love this shift in you sis, and it inspires me to do the same and keep that OATTing in check. Feels so good, doesn’t it?

  5. I definitely differentiate goals and rules. Rules seem to be pretty rigid, fixed “things”, often set by other people (or society), while goals are personal and often touch on so many aspects of my life. Whether I meet them or not, I do try to focus on the process and not the final product.

    • Love how you describe the difference between the two – they are personal and they do touch so many aspects of life. And they are most definitely not rigid (or shouldn’t be) like rules tend to be.

  6. “I also realize that life isn’t a matter of a set of rules to live by, or mandates — it’s about living each day as best as you can, reaching for your goals and doing your darn best. It’s as simple as that.” << This? Perfectly sums it up. But you know what I love even more? Hearing how you are trusting yourself, your instincts and your training.

  7. What a great distinction to make—Even the word “rule” seems to rigid to me (probably cuz I’m not a rule-breaker by nature)… Rules seem hard and fast, whereas goals are fluid (or at least the path to reach them can be).
    Sometimes I’m good at this and other times I’m not. I’ll admit sometimes I just want rules, then I can think less, but there are certainly downsides to blindly following rules rather than working toward goals!

    • Yes – rules are meant to be guidelines, not hard and fast and not totally blurred either. Something right in the middle — a balance that sometimes can be very hard to strike, as you know.

  8. I think it was you that said we have the same brain, right? 😉 You know I have a hard time with this, too. Rules and goals…goals don’t HAVE to be met. Rules must be obeyed. (Well. They’re supposed to anyway. ;)) Goals turn into rules when you lose sight of growth and passion; at least for me anyway. Rules tend to keep people strictly leveled…goals tend to enrich lives. 🙂 Does that make sense?

    I love this post so much, and I’ve loved watching you go through training for your 26.2. Almost here!!! I’m so excited for you, and I wish so much that I could be up there cheering you on.

    (PS: This comment sat in my browser now for over 24 hours. Go me.)

    • You hit the nail on the head – goals totally turn into rules when you lose sight of growth and passion, absolutely agree my friend. And um hi, we totally share a brain. I’m convinced 😉

  9. Pingback: “No Limits” — revisited | EatDrinkBreatheSweat

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