Syncro-blog post: Choosing Goals that Scare You

Posted by Breanna Cornell on February 18, 2013 at 8:45 PM

A post not just about running, but life:

Choosing Goals That Scare You



This month I'm doing a joint blog post, hosted by Alex Bridgeforth (blog at meaning multiple people blog about the same topic. Visit Alex's blog to get linked to everyone who is participating/tune in on twitter!


The topic is "choosing goals that scare you."


I guess I have a hard time approaching this topic because I choose goals without really thinking about how I'm going to get to them. Running goals don't scare me as much as, say, that F.E. [engineering] exam does, or clowns. But in choosing my running goals, and life goals, I generally say: "I'm going to do that." And then I figure out how to make it happen. In this way, I've set some pretty high goals.


I have learned that there are certain intermediate steps that need to be taken in achieving high goals if you want to be successful. I've done myself a service and a disservice by having this approach, by setting a seemingly "impossible" goal. There have been many failures… but NO failure is a failure if you learn something from it.


It is often in the planning stages that I get frightened. Case and point: I've signed up for three 100-milers this year in an attempt to qualify for Badwater. The first one is in April. Only now am I starting to register how long 100 miles is. I'm not even thinking about the next two. Am I afraid? Sure. Will that stop me? NO.


If we were to stop striving for goals simply because we are afraid of things, then how would anything be accomplished? It must have been scary, being the first man to behold fire and learning to tame it, getting burnt– surely– in the process. But that didn't stop man from mastering and utilizing it. Where would we be without those first men that got their hands scorched? It hurt, and it was scary, but now we are reaping the benefits; cooked food, warm homes, light and protection.


I know, stupid example. But you get the point.


Not everyone has a thick skull– I think I'm stuck with the cavemen– and if you're a person with a more evolved cranium, then tackling a new distance, entering a more challenging race, or just taking that first step out the door can be really scary. You know it's challenging when you're afraid.


So how do you choose a goal that scares you?

There's no right or wrong way about choosing goals. To quote Nike, "Just do it." But easier said than done, right? So here are some steps that can ease the process, help to choose a goal, and accomplish it!


Step One: Define it.

If your goal is truly a personal challenge, and if it truly does scare you, accomplishing it will have to come from the heart. It has to be a goal that you are completely committed to, absolutely passionate about. When the going gets rough, it will be the love of what you're doing that carries you through.


Find what you're passionate about.

Find something that challenges you.

Find something that scares your socks off.

Think outside the box– don't be afraid to attempt something that's never been done before– and DEFINE IT.


Step Two: Make your goal known.

Tell people. "I'm going to train a red panda to be my pacer!" or "I'm going to climb the equivalent distance of the circumference of the Earth!" or "I'm going to run a 5k every day for three months– BACKWARDS!"


Post it on Facebook. Make a blog. Sing it on Twitter. Shout it from Kilimanjaro. Just tell people! Sharing your goals with people who will hold you accountable. Posting your progress, your successes and struggles, will help you connect. There is great wisdom in people you may connect with that you might not have known had you not shared your passion. Find support and surround yourself with it. Draw inspiration and motivation by following others on their journeys to their goals. Share it!

(A note to runners: #runchat and #ultrachat is a wonderful support resource on Twitter)

Step Three: Plan it.

You have a goal, and it's a big, scary one. How are you going to achieve it? I know it's elementary, but outline it. Physically sit down with a piece of paper and pen and write it down. Make a timeline. Reaching your goal could take you as little as a week, or as long as thirty years.

Leave wiggle room in your plan, some flexibility. Know that your passion may shift, life might get in the way, or things might not go as planned. Know that you might stub your toe, and fall down a couple of stairs, but that's okay. Write a plan B. Write a plan C. Heck, use the whole alphabet! Just writing down how to get from Start to End, and hanging up your outline in a place where you can see it every day is incentive enough to work towards your goal.


Step Four: Do it.

Just do it. Redundant, I know, but there's nothing simpler than just going out and doing it. The first step is always the hardest. It could be the first step out the door, or the first five minutes your stare at your keyboard wondering how the heck to start a blog entry, or the simple act of clicking the "submit" button for an online resume. The first step is the hardest. It might take a mile (or five) until you fall into tempo. But be assured that you will find a tempo if you stick with it.


Surround yourself with motivation. Surround yourself with positive people in every aspect of life. Follow people on Facebook and Twitter who motivate you. Join a running/training/study/metal band/work group whose goals parallel yours. Hang up posters that influence you, read books that you can learn from, and act as if you're going to achieve your goal.


Have you ever heard of the saying "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?"

Apply this here. Act as if you know you're going to achieve it. Self confidence is what most people lack when tackling goals. Know that you can do it, and if you can't do that, fake it until you make it. What you envision is what the outcome will be. Envision success, and know that you'll give it your all.

Dumbledore says it best: Just do it, man.


Step Five: Achieve it, Learn from it, Try Again, or All of the Previous.

If you achieve your goal, great! Time to define a new one. If you "fail," learn from it. Search for what wasn't quite right, what can be changed to result in a better outcome. No experience is a failure if you've learned from it. And then try again. And again.

And never give up.


(a.k.a. Things I wish people had told me (and they probably did, but I wasn't listening)):

You will fail.

It won't be easy.

You will struggle.

Things won't go as planned.

People will try to pull you down and hold you back.

Your failures and successes only hold as much merit as you give them.

Don't expect the world to be aw-stricken with your failures, successes, and goals.

Be humble in your approach, execution, and triumphs.




What are some goals that you have set that scare you?

What has been your biggest lesson in goal setting?

What goals do you have set for this year?

Comment below or post on Twitter (@love2Bre)


Goals I have set (hold me accountable, guys!)

- Run three 100-milers in 2013, qualifying for Badwater

- Become the youngest finishing female in Badwater 2014

- Run from the North to South Pole (what?!? That's right, set this goal back in 2009, taking baby steps to get there) :)

As always,

Do what you love,

Love what you do!

Best of Wishes,




Categories: General

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Reply Alex (@Alexbridgeforth)
12:43 AM on February 20, 2013 
Thanks Bre for sharing (not that I gotta wake up at 0400 and its now 2241). Awesome post, love the way you took five simple (but not) easy steps, to accomplish scary goals. Also, love the cavemen metaphor. Can't wait to run with you when you get out here (you'll probably run me into the ground), also keep up the good work with those 100s can't wait to hear all abou them.
Reply Breanna Cornell
5:19 AM on February 20, 2013 
Hey Alex!
Thanks so much! Can't wait to hit the AZ trails with you!
Reply Heather @ Better With Veggies
6:32 PM on February 20, 2013 
WOW - I'm just in awe of your goals! I consider myself an endurance athlete, but 3 100-milers this year - you are hardcore. So inspiring! :)
Reply Bill
9:38 PM on February 20, 2013 
Great stuff, Breanna, Inspiring and down to earth. Reading your goals makes me fell like an old man. Oh, wait ... there's another reason for that. @dontslowdownyet
Reply How to Climb Kilimanjaro
2:28 AM on October 5, 2013 
Nice photo and photos.thanks for sharing...............