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The Dangers of Goal Fever

And What Matters Most

Goals: Mile Markers to the Mission

Welcome to Week 8 of the S2S5K. During this 8 week series, these show notes accentuate the learning from the podcast and the Training paths. Log in at with your email address for access. Special thanks to Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano for sponsoring this series.


Week 8 - Listen Here


Goals are Important

You know, I know, we all know goals rock. Goals are important for everything you do and everything you say you want. Even what you’ve done for your 5K training program is of course essential to the achievement of a goal. And that is valuable.

But as is often the case, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. When your goal becomes an obsession, a risk to the mission, and when achievement begins to eclipse other areas of your life or consciousness, you are in danger of catching something I call, Goal Fever.

What is Goal Fever?

Goal fever is stress on the body, mind and spirit as a result of preoccupation with a goal you feel you have to achieve. It occurs when one begins to jeopardize the larger mission with the unhealthy preoccupation and hyper need to accomplish a goal they've set. It's a good thing gone bad. It can manifest as anxiety, persistent worry, outbursts of anger, and mild depression. It can be injury when you push your body so far to the edge that something snaps.

The hardest part is that sometimes you don't know you've gone too far, until you've already fallen off the cliff.

Examples of Goal Fever

Some examples are more familiar or more serious than others. Like addictions and various forms of abuse, goal fever is when behaviors to achieve a goal go berserk. Goal fever can show up any time we risk life, limb or health to achieve something we feel we must. On one level it can be speeding on the highway just to be punctual, but risking life and limb to do it. On another it can be working late at the office so many nights in a row that the family you say you're working for hardly recognizes you.

In health and fitness, goal fever can be harsh shortcuts and unhealthy measures to get to a certain body weight.

What's Most Important

In proper proportion, a goal must always be in service to the mission. The mission is the most important; its the point of it all, and the reason for which you push, struggle or press. Should achievement begin to eclipse the mission, you endanger its success. It may also be an indication that the mission has been lost, if it was ever clarified in the first place.

Goals are merely the mile markers to the mission. If finishing a 5K is the mission, what good is it to sprint the first mile only to jeopardize finishing? It's the mission that makes goals valuable. This means that one must recognize what the mission is. Oversimplified the mission might be the answer to this question: What for? To earn a certain amount of money, to earn a promotion? To find a partner, to be healthy? To be happy or to be loved? To change the world?

Creating Hope

You get to pick. You get to decide what mission is worth your focus, time and effort. You get to decide how you go about measuring your goals along the way, and the mile markers you choose. If being skinny is the goal, what's the mission? These aren't easy questions. Not knowing the answers can be frustrating. Even when you know the answers they can be even hard to face.

Knowledge is Power

The silver lining is that once you recognize what goal fever is, you can begin to watch out for it. It can remind you to create and honor your mission. And your mission can be used not only in creating your goals, but also in keeping them aligned to the larger purpose.

Interesting thing about a mission: the deep ones are often life long. So as long as there is life there is hope. In other words, there is limited value in rushing; you got time. This small realization can engender resolve when achievement of a goal falters. Being full of hope, you can get back on the horse in pursuit of the mission knowing that not all is lost, that you can live to fight another day, and that giving in isn’t always giving up. It can produce a sort of resilient creativity to find another door when one door is closed.

It provides perspective and the reduction of false urgency that allows room for patience, and the self-compassion necessary to stick to your plans much more firmly. A sign of personal growth is learning not only how to accept a loss, but how to reverse engineer it to create hope, the energy to move forward from the ashes.

As we close this represents my hope for you: that you not become overwhelmed by your goals, though they be important, and that you remember to attend to the people in your lives that matter. And in that in all of your achieving you value rest, in all of your urgency you value caution, and in all of your giving and working you value yourself.

Thank you so much for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on FB or IG. And if you're feeling gracious, please leave a honest review here on iTunes. Your comments and thoughts are so appreciated as we try to spread more health /fitness encouragement through our community.

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