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I failed to reach my 2021 goal, and couldn't be happier about it


Last January I decided that I wanted to walk 1,000 miles in 2021. My mother and my sister-in-law joined in on the goal; each of us downloaded a fitness tracking app to our phones and we were off. By the end of the year, none of us ended up logging 1,000 miles. My sister-in-law took the lead with 736 miles, I went 697 miles, and my mom only went 200 miles (although in her defense, she was chronically forgetting to turn on – and off – the app…). Although we fell short in actual mileage, the journey was exactly what I needed.


With the goal of 1,000 miles in mind I started scheduling walks as I planned my week – and I forced myself to put walks on the calendar first – before I scheduled time for emails, laundry, flexible meetings, and other work. The goal helped me to prioritize ME – my physical and emotional wellbeing. It allowed me to feel less guilty when I chose to go for a walk instead of helping with weekend morning chores at home or when I chose to multitask and walk while listening to a webinar. Walks brought fresh air, exercise, and time to think and dream.

The shared goal also helped to nurture community and connection. Although we live in different states, my mom and I would often log our miles while talking on the phone. In the evening as I was preparing dinner my phone would ding with a notification – “Sarah has completed a 2.4 mile walk” – which would prompt us to exchange a series of (sometimes lightheartedly competitive) texts about our mileage statistics and about our days.


Through most of my adult life, I would have approached my 2021 walking statistics as a failure – I was 303 miles short of achieving my goal. And I would have made that mean that I lacked self-discipline, organization, or drive. But I have learned that the true benefit of any goal comes from the journey, not the destination. 2021 included 697 miles of practice prioritizing myself and connecting with those that I love. The benefit of that is beyond measure.