Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Beginner’s Luck: The Big Reason You’re Not Accomplishing Your Goals

You can crush any goal—as long as you pay attention to this one major factor.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

When it comes to the topic of goal setting and goal getting, I think many of us know the former sometimes more than the latter. Goals are significantly more likely to be attained via the magic word of consistency and grind of the creation of the daily habit.

Sometimes, goals are the things that shake us, wake us up. Maybe they wake us up out of a long sleep of life, change us, give us soul and purpose.

Goals can also be colossal mistakes—a way of creating and recreating a pattern of self-sabotage that we can seemingly never get out of. Before you look away (click away), hear me out.

The art of goal setting is indeed—an art. The pressure to tackle a huge race like Ironman or an ultra is sometimes big, depending on what circles we (literally) run in. Everyone knows that setting an “attainable goal” is what we should do. Then we see those who set massive goals and crush them—and we think, “I am made of that too. I can do that.”

Psst: You totally can. There may only be one problem with setting a massive goal. And that is the timeframe you give yourself to reach the goal. That is literally the only distinction between a 250-pound mom of two (ah-hem) who wants to simply finish Ironman and the seasoned marathoner who signs up for the same race.


The seasoned marathoner can likely pull off this big goal in 26 weeks (assuming she or he can swim and bike). The mom might need two years: one to really nail nutrition, (sleep!), and technique habits, and the final to build that endurance required to tackle Ironman.

Twenty-six weeks versus two (perhaps three) years—that’s it.

And I challenge you: What else do you have to do? (I mean, aside from work and school and kids and family and jobs.) But with regard to dreams, the time is ticking no matter what. You might as well be working in the direction of your goals.

Of course things like work ethic, natural ability, and cardiovascular and muscular endurance are factors. Again, many of those obstacles are overcome by the magic of time, coupled with the same secret sauce everyone else uses: hard work, mindset, and consistency.

Our goals are not the problem. If we are continually signing up for the same (or equal) races and then never showing up, seeing no real changes and then crawling into a self-whipping hole of depression and doubt—try resetting the clock. Instead of signing up for the big race in the following season, sign up for a smaller one—with that big goal in mind—for a year or two (or three) later.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it takes to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”  – Earl Nightengale

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You.. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours. Meredith is married with two tweens and writes about all things at Her next book, The Year of No Nonsense, is due out Fall 2019.