On the surface, this question often produces yawns or a slightly uninspired reaction. We can agree that life goals of any kind are helpful to our own personal enrichment but depending on the circumstances we sometimes lose interest in them. Recently, I began thinking more seriously about this subject and realized just how beneficial it can be not only to set meaningful goals for ourselves but to also set forth in the important work of actually achieving them.
It requires real effort, with great rewards
As they say, “Oftentimes the journey is more important than the destination.” In our business at Sensenig Capital Advisors, goals are featured prominently with many of our clients as we help articulate their objectives and then work together to achieve them. This could relate to funding retirement, paying for a college education, charitable giving, and numerous other financial and life goals. But, I reflect more on the process itself … the actual “work” behind the scenes that typically goes into achieving these worthwhile outcomes. Very often the unanticipated setbacks and the necessary course corrections in midstream can be daunting but the benefits to the goal setter and the feelings of satisfaction associated with achievement are very real.
One such area for me in personal goal setting over the past number of years has been with cycling. Not the motor type but the pedaling type. The opportunity to be outdoors and enjoying the physical exertion biking by myself, and with others, has been truly rewarding. After a bout with cancer, followed by successful surgery in 1999, I registered for my first American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon. The ride spans roughly 66 miles from the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia to the Southern New Jersey shore area. For someone my age that is a long distance to require some semblance of ongoing physical conditioning.
A little humility can’t hurt
Since that time I have been fortunate enough to complete 15 consecutive annual Bike-a-Thon’s and a couple of months ago I signed on for my 16th, which is coming up in the middle of June. This is the American Cancer Society’s 43rd annual cycling event and each year as fellow cancer survivors and others line up at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, I say a little prayer of thanks for the opportunity to ride again, for a safe outcome, and maybe a chance to draft other cyclists in order to save some energy during the ride. I’ll take all the help I can get!
In addition, if my ego gets out of hand when I have reached or exceeded a time or distance benchmark during the ride there is always ample reason for being brought back down to earth. For example, many times when I return to my hometown in Lancaster County, PA I will see middle-aged Amish women on rusty old 3-speed bikes, in full length dresses, pedaling uphill with a carton of groceries resting on the back fender … seemingly not even breaking a sweat! And here’s me with my 24-speed lightweight bike, spandex (yes, sorry), and all the latest biking gear: A humbling experience to say the least.
Articulating incentives helps goal achievement
The initial incentive for me to stay in reasonably good shape and work toward a goal was the cancer diagnosis I mentioned earlier. Today however, the incentive to prepare for Bike-A-Thon ride #16 has been to fully recuperate from hip replacement surgery last September. And this year I will line up at the base of the bridge with a good friend and fellow cancer survivor whose wife lost her battle to cancer just 2½ years ago. The tremendous incentive to put up with the searing summer heat and humidity, as well as tired muscles, is very real when we consider the friends and family members who have sadly passed on from this disease. Not to mention those we know who are currently fighting the battle.
I suppose one such moral to this story would be to do all you can in working toward some good and worthwhile life goal. Do so with humility and with the expectation of inevitable roadblocks along the way. And, if you are given the chance to help others in the process, make sure to embrace the opportunity.
I am hopeful of logging more miles on my road bike this season so if any of our readers have interest in joining me on a recreational ride I would love the company. Feel free to give me a call and we can arrange a time.
In closing, if this cause inspires you to act, consider a donation to the American Cancer Society Bike-a-Thon event. More information can be found at the following website: http://goo.gl/ZGpz57