Tag Archive | goals

Out With The Old, In With The New

Happy New Year’s Eve!

new-years-sparklers

 

This time of year is always filled with goal setting, reflecting, and resolution making. I did pretty well with my 2012 goals, only missing a few that probably weren’t very realistic (seriously, a month without sweets?!).

A lot happened last year. When reflecting on the last 12 months this morning, I realized I:

I think that’s the most productive year I’ve had in a really long time!

Now, I’m thinking about what I hope to accomplish in 2013:

  1. Finish a marathon
  2. Run 12 races throughout the year
  3. PR in the 5K and 10K
  4. Break 1:40 in the half marathon
  5. Complete a trail race
  6. Take swimming lessons
  7. Nail one of the “crazy” yoga poses – arm balance, bird of paradise, etc.
  8. Achieve all of my work goals
  9. Travel to 5 new places
  10. Read 25 books

So, here’s to the last day of 2012 and then it’s on to the next!

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A Successful Army Ten Miler

A smile has been plastered on my face since about 8:10 yesterday morning. That is roughly when the Army Ten Miler start line came into view, and I knew I was on the brink of accomplishing a long-term goal.

While the National Anthem played over the loudspeakers and I spotted runners sporting t-shirts with the names of loved ones stationed overseas, my eyes welled with tears. Then, I watched the courageous Wounded Warriors begin running their races and I nearly lost it in the middle of my very crowded corral. People weren’t kidding when they talked about the emotional intensity of the Army Ten Miler… that combined with my own disbelief that I was finally at the starting line of this race made me a little teary-eyed.

Luckily, that didn’t last long. As soon as I crossed the starting line, I felt a huge smile creep across my face. It hasn’t gone away since.

Feeling strong at mile 4.5 of the 2011 Army Ten Miler

The Army Ten Miler  has been crossed off my list of goals. I finished in 1:22:49 – more than 7 minutes faster than my time goal. Kudos to the race organizers for putting on such a fantastic event, to all the volunteers and spectators who made 10 miles feel easy, and – most importantly – the men and women in our armed services who make physical, mental, and emotional sacrifices for all of us on a regular basis.

Anticipating Tomorrow

Four years ago, when I was thinking about moving to Washington, D.C., I made a goal to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I had heard about the race’s popularity and thought it would give myself a fitness goal to work toward. Back then, I was an occasional runner – 3 miles a couple times a week for a few months before “getting too busy” and stopping altogether. The idea of running 10 miles at one time seemed far off and slightly unrealistic, but it always kept popping up in my mind. I knew it was something I wanted to achieve.

For three years as a D.C. resident, I kept missing the deadline to register for the lottery that would allow me to secure a spot in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. This coincided nicely with my inability to break free from the occasional runner label I had given myself. While I was running more frequently since moving to D.C., I would hardly call myself a true runner. I didn’t follow any sort of training plan and still found myself not running for weeks – and  sometimes months – at a time.

Back in January 2011, I decided I was done with that mentality. I’ve never given less than 100% to anything before, so why have I always done it with long-distance running? I enjoyed it and wanted to be committed. So, shortly after the new year, I signed up for a popular 10K in Charleston, SC taking place in early April. For 4 months this winter, I trained at the gym on a treadmill (!) with my best friend for the race. When I started out, I could barely maintain a 10-minute mile, but I kept pushing through, finding enjoyment in this new, challenging hobby. A few weeks before the race, Ashley and I took our training outside to the trails. We bundled up to brave D.C.’s chilly spring weather and ran… and ran… and ran. That day, we covered 7 miles – the furthest either of us had ever run before. When we finished, we felt the runner’s high so many speak about.

After finishing the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, I grew a bit obsessed. I read books about running. I subscribed to countless running blogs. I purchased a subscription to Runners World. I began volunteering with Girls on the Run (GOTR), a nonprofit that seeks to instill healthy self-esteem in young girls through running.

Outside of work, my life was all about running. And I loved every minute of it.

While volunteering at the GOTR spring 5K race, something came over me. I watched these young girls crossing the finish line with massive smiles, accomplishment and pride taking over their small faces. I wanted that. Coincidentally, that morning, registration for the Army Ten Miler – the largest 10-mile race in the United States – had opened. The ATM has a reputation for selling out quickly so I made a knee-jerk decision to just do it, using the unreliable Internet connection on my iPhone to sign up in the parking lot.

For a couple of days, I was simply excited. Then, I grew uncertain. Had I really signed up for a 10-mile race? The longest I’d ever run at that point was 7 miles. I’d essentially be tacking on a 5K distance to that… did I really have it in me?

Pushing the self-doubt aside, I devised a training plan. I’ve built them before and followed them half-hardheartedly as a high school cross country slacker runner. Would I stick with it? Would I still be running in October – 7 months from the day I signed up for the race?

Well, tomorrow is the Army Ten Miler. I’m still running. In fact, throughout my training, I’ve tackled a few things I thought I’d never do:

  • I joined a running group that has introduced me to some of my closest friends.
  • I ran 9 miles on a Thursday evening after work because I felt… surprisingly great… while running…
  • I ran 11.5 miles on a Saturday morning by myself.
  • I ran 9 miles without an iPod in a torrential downpour in Florida. (I never thought I’d be able to run without music, and now music-less runs make up the bulk of my training.)
  • I ran every single long run on my training plan.
  • I ran 12.5 miles.
  • I happily gave up going out with friends on Friday nights to ensure I’d feel my best on my Saturday long runs.
  • I spent more money on running clothes than actual clothes. (!)
  • I began eating whole foods, including lots of different veggies. (Mom, aren’t you proud?!)
  • I ran a 5-mile race and netted a 7:50-mile pace. I never thought I’d secure an average pace beginning with a 7!

Each of these achievements is exciting and empowering. As I sit here with a little less than 24-hours until I cross the start line of the Army Ten Miler, a race I’ve been working toward since May, I am filled with nervous anxiety. There are questions and concerns racing around in my head, but the excitement is slowly seeping in and pushing any fears out the window. I’m already flying a bit high on race day adrenaline.

Tomorrow morning, I will pin on a bib (crookedly, I’m sure), lace up my shoes, set my watch, and finally run a 10-mile race (with 30,000 of my closest friends). It won’t be easy, but it’s not supposed to be. If it were an easy feat, it wouldn’t be a goal I’ve had on my mind for four years…

Thoughts from Blog World 2011: The Importance of User Experience and Relevancy

Blog World & New Media Expo’s inaugural event in New York City is underway, and I was privileged enough to attend this year’s conference as a representative of my employer, Fleishman-Hillard.*


Fresh from my quick jaunt from D.C. up to the Big Apple, I spent my morning commute today reviewing the notes I took while at Blog World.  Though the topics covered in the panels ranged from mobile marketing to blogger outreach to Facebook, I found recurring themes scrawled on each of the pages:

  • user experience = driving force
  • knowing what the user wants
  • relevancy
  • understanding the community
  • who is the audience and what are they looking for

In notes from one session, I emphasized this statement (with a star and underlining so you know it’s important!):

User experience should be a guiding force; relevancy is integral to success

While this thinking seems straight-forward enough, it’s always nice to be reminded of the core concepts that should drive any communications campaign.  With so many new, shiny technologies available to marketers, it can be easy to lose focus of how these tools actually fit into the active lives of end users, or – you know – your or your client’s customers.

Yes, innovation is a good thing.  The digital era is providing seemingly limitless opportunities for PR professionals and marketers to interact with consumers in a variety of ways, but the customer experience should never be sacrificed in the name of innovation.

As industry professionals, we need to be asking the right questions before jumping in:

  1. Is this easy for the target audience to use?
  2. Is it relevant to their lives first and our campaign goals second?

Over the next few days, I’ll be highlighting how these concepts popped up in the Blog World panels I attended, which focused on mobile marketing, location-based services, Facebook News Feed optimization, blogger relations, and content creation.

(*Again, all content posted to this blog is mine and mine only.  These thoughts do not represent those of my employer, Fleishman-Hillard.)

Staying on Track: Learning How to Hold Myself Accountable to Achieve Personal and Professional Goals

If for some reason, you are a former reader of PR Interactive who has simply forgotten to remove the site from your RSS feeds, I would like to take this opportunity to warn you that this blog will no longer be focused solely on public relations and marketing.

While I am still a huge communications nerd, I’ve learned that it’s important to maintain a balance of hobbies and interests. Since I graduated from college 3 years ago (!) and embraced agency life, it’s taken considerable discipline to stay on track of the professional and personal goals I’ve made for myself. Most of my family describes me as a “very passionate person.” This can be a strength and a weakness, because I tend to throw myself 100% into the areas I’m most passionate about at a given time.

But what happens to the other areas of my life that need attention?

There have been times I’ve slipped, losing track of all but one of the things I consider important to my overall happiness. I’d like this to change.  Being more conscientious about documenting my progress should help and I plan to use this blog as a means of writing about my [numerous] goals and the steps I’m taking to achieve them.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve launched several other side blogs since I put PR Interactive on hold back in 2009, none of which survived very long. There was a blog about books, a website about social media marketing, a personal blog, and a Tumblr dedicated to fashion. All topics I find interesting and compelling in varying degrees of importance… usually depending on how busy I am at work or in my social life.

Slowly, like many bloggers, my desire to regularly update these sites waned as my schedule got busier. Blogging and writing about one topic grew boring once I found myself more interested in another and instead of combining these interests in one place, I allowed the sites to die.  I suppose I listened to too many social media blogs that said to pick one topic and stick with it, but I’ve finally realized that my personal passions are too varied to focus on only one area of my life.

As a digital strategist, I fully understand I’m “segmenting” my audience… but, to be honest, I don’t really care. I hope to build a community with a diverse range of interests and passions so that we can all hold one another accountable. There’s got to be a few people out there who have goal ADD, right?

Though I can’t promise I’ll update the blog regularly, I will be sure to pop in every now and then to ensure I’m staying on track with my 2011 goals, including:

  • Run 5 races including the Army 10 Miler on October 9, 2011
  • Try 5 types of new exercise
  • Improve my knowledge of basic nutrition and apply much of what I learn to my daily eating habits
  • Read 35 new books, five of which are nonfiction
  • Take a class to learn a new skill or improve an old one
  • Attend a professional conference or workshop
  • Perform one random act of kindness every month
  • Get involved with a volunteer organization
  • Determine whether I want to get a graduate degree
  • Travel to 3 new places

Do you ever find yourself thinking you have too many goals spread out over a variety of areas? If so, how do make sure you’re devoting enough time to all of them?