Setting personal goals is even more important when you're a parent
Written by: Matt Beardmore
It was a Sunday afternoon last month and I found myself doing something I rarely get the chance to do: laying on the living room couch in a silent house. With our young son asleep in the other room, I was mindlessly flipping channels looking for something, anything, to keep my mind off the fact I had no workout planned. For the previous six months, I started every day looking at my workout log and preparing myself to meet that day's challenge. I followed that routine as close as the rest of my schedule would allow, as I missed just five workouts during that 26-week stretch. Each time I crossed off that day's scheduled exercise, I gained more and more confidence.
Yet here I was, exactly one week removed from crossing the finish line alongside my wife at the Honolulu Marathon in what was one of the most exhilarating and proudest moments of our lives, and I suddenly had nowhere to run. I felt like a failure.
While I know this isn't true, as I am blessed in many ways, the importance of setting/striving for personal goals became crystal clear for me in that moment. I can't just have my life revolve around my son and his activities. He will always come first, but I need to move me-time up my list of priorities and be running toward something—and it doesn't need to be the finish line of a marathon or any other athletic endeavor. It could be learning an instrument (which I'm considering), a foreign language, how to paint, or something else. It just needs to be something because:
- Whether I achieve my goal or not, just taking the steps to achieve my goal will help me experience personal growth and keeps me energized, both physically and mentally.
- Setting goals brings balance to my life. Not everything can be about my son. It just can’t.
- It gives me something to look forward to that doesn’t involve walks to the park, Wiggleworms or my son’s Saturday morning French class.
- It sets a good example for my child. By trying to better myself and staying focused on my personal goals, my hope is that my son will one day learn the importance of goal-setting and trying to improve himself—in whatever way he feels is necessary.
Matt Beardmore used to cover sports for ESPN The Magazine and the Chicago Tribune, and contribute to The New York Times Travel section and In Transit blog, but he’d much rather write about a far more important topic—being a dad.
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