Challenge,  running


Setting Goals In an Uncertain Time…

Many, many writers I know, me included, are goal focused. I can work to deadline when the deadline is real. I can set goals out a month, six months, a year, and longer, and once set, I can stick with them.

But the times, at the moment, are uncertain. (Duh…)

We are all (mostly) staying at home and in place to keep the virus from just flattening our hospitals and killing a ton more people than it needs to. And the reopening is going to be slow and painful for some time to come.

I’m doing fine on the writing and the publishing because my mind automatically moves out into the future with both of them. And the future for indie writing and publishing looks amazingly rosy.

And I am fine with really doing a lot to help other writers stay focused and learning through this. Don’t know if any of you did the math, but on this last Kickstarter campaign, WMG Publishing gave away about a third of a million dollars in workshop value for writers in just the stretch goals, not counting that really important book Kris did called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. (Surveys are out now, so won’t be long before all that starts going out.)

And we might even do one more half-price workshop sale this coming week to help out as well. We did one in March, one in April, and now we can do one last one to get writers through this last bit of staying home. We all hope it is the last bit. (Oh, please let it be the last bit.)

So I will be back tomorrow with more on that sale. (Basically same as the last two, only five days long instead of only two.)

So none of that bothers me in and around the writing and teaching.

But now a personal story to illustrate how my mind works when I don’t have a goal. This may help some of you recognize what is happening with you and help you move forward. Kris finally helped me get off the dime just tonight, actually.

Last year I was really focused on getting in shape and running the Las Vegas Marathon. (I talked about it here a bunch.)

My goal, actually, is to run a marathon in my 70th year, which starts in November, but I figured last year was a warm up. As many of you remember, I did not make the turn from the half marathon to the full. I was just minutes too slow. (The race has a very strict 5 hour time limit.)

So I finished the half marathon and got a medal for the half. My second half marathon of the year.

But I had missed, so instead of doing as I do with writing, resetting and focusing on out ahead, I sort of focused elsewhere, thinking I would get back to the running goal in the spring.

And then this spring happened and I wake up one morning with no gyms open and 15 pounds over my running weight from last fall, which was still slightly high even then. (Down three of those just by going back to eating healthy this last week.)

And no telling if the Las Vegas Marathon will even happen in November this year. Anyone’s guess at this point.


So I was having a horrid time planning for something that might not happen. Working out and running every day and then having that end goal just go away.

My mind was not letting me focus on it at all. Sound familiar?

I can focus on publishing and writing because I know for a fact that is not going away, but actually getting better.

But a race with 50,000 people in November is really, really uncertain, even though it would be possible to social distance the entire thing.

And for that uncertainty equaled no focus for me.

Zero, zip, zilch.

So tonight, after talking with Kris, I spent my entire evening doing research, finding marathons and getting them on my board in my office for my entire 70th year of life. One per month, 13 total, starting with the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon and ending with it in November 2021.

I’m going to shoot to run in all 13. (Yeah, a crazy, impossible dream, but what the hell, might as well go big.) That way, even if they cancel a bunch of them, or I can’t make a number of them, I will still hit my goal of running a marathon or two in my 70th year of life. (A number of them didn’t even have someone 70 running in the last few years.)

Fail to success, in other words. (Some of you have heard that before from me. (grin)

So by setting all that up, I killed the uncertainty. Just kicked it out the door and down the road.

Starting Monday I will be back on my training and eating program (just mine) that has helped me lose 85 pounds to this point and get in shape to run marathons, starting in November.

Even in uncertain times, there are ways to set goals and work around the uncertainty. Just thought I would show you one.

Thanks for the help, Kris.


  • Carolyn Ivy Stein

    Thanks for all you do to help writers, Dean!

    Glad to see that you are heading back to your goal. My husband ran across this problem as well. He’d signed up to run the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon in June but the virus derailed all those plans. It took the wind right out of his sails.

    He discovered the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000K, which asks participants to run 1000 kilometers over the course of the summer (the distance from Memphis to the northeast corner of Tennessee). You can track your progress against other people and you get a shirt and a medal if you complete. It started May 1, but you can still join.

    The race is put together by the same guy who runs the insane Barkley ultramarathon and the money goes to feeding people and animals.

    This virtual race has perked my husband back up again and it might be fun for you as well. It certainly helps with the training if nothing else.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, but not one much for virtual. For some reason it just doesn’t push me. A personal issue I am sure. (grin) But yup, goals are critical.