Challenge Met: Enjoying the Rush of Meeting a Goal

Zig Ziglar knew what he was talking about when he said: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Entering 2016, I joined the Marathon Sports Winter Warrior Challenge. The challenge for me: run or walk five miles OUTSIDE every day for the month of January. Don’t quite make five miles on any day? No problem. Simply downgrade to three miles or one mile a day. Just can’t get it together to get out one day? No problem there either – you’re out of the challenge.

January can be a downright tough month to be outside in Maine. Apparently Mother Nature wanted me to succeed, though, and provided us with a number of unseasonably warm days – 45 degrees in Maine in January??? Score! No worries for those of you who are wondering if I got off without difficulty in reaching this challenge. I was also outside in wind, rain, snow, and ice.

WW_BLUEThe rewards for meeting this challenge? My name will be listed along with the others who completed the challenge on the back of a t-shirt featuring this handsome guy. More than that, though, as Ziglar’s words imply, this challenge was about setting a goal and following through on my intentions. I wrote about my three words for 2016 earlier this year: Focus. Finish. Follow-through.

So far, this challenge includes two of my words: Focus and Finish. I had to put this challenge at top of mind and make time every day to be outside. There certainly were a couple of days when I just didn’t feel like going outside. I had made a commitment to myself and a friend to participate in and complete this challenge, however, so I put on my winter gear and headed outside. Follow-through will now be to make sure I transition from walking to running over the next 60 days – a longer-term goal that feeds into a goal to run, walk, or crawl 1,000 miles this year. Thanks to the Winter Warrior Challenge, I’ve already walked 161 miles.

So, what was the key to my success in getting my sedentary self out of the house to achieve this goal? Several factors were key to ensure that I met this goal:

Accountability – I had an accountability partner who was doing this challenge with me. Since she lives in Massachusetts, we weren’t walking or running together. Instead, we stayed connected via text messages and phone calls. There was no way I was going to leave her high and dry by not completing this challenge.

Support System – I had announced to some friends and, of course, my husband that I was entering this challenge. My husband accompanied me on weekend days when he could, and a friend of mine was able to fit a walk into her schedule just when my resolve was wavering. Timing is everything!

Immediate Gratification – I had to go online to confirm that I had, in fact, walked or run five miles each day. I was able to get a lift by meeting each day’s challenge and seeing the cumulative number of miles that I’d walked. And…the challenge was for one month only: the end was always in sight.

Long-term Impact – As I mentioned, this challenge fits into my year-long goal to walk or run 1,000 miles. (I hope to avoid crawling.) It will also get me in shape to run a 5K in March and to hop on my bike in April.

Challenge goals blogSMART Goal – This challenge fit right into the SMART Goal theory. It was specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Unintended Consequences – Not only did I became a morning person (who would ever have thought that was possible?), but I also became much more productive over the past month.

Success breeds success. I’m looking forward to experiencing and sharing more successes in 2016. How about you?

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.


  1. Nothing like having to meet your challenge in January – in Maine! Congratulations. You did all the right things by commiting and letting people know that you had and setting up accountability. It really gave you a great start toward your goal for the year and I applaud you!
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  2. That is wonderful, Deb! I love it. What a great idea. I’m going to check this challenge out. I love challenges that will help me expand beyond the day to day routine. I agree with you and Zig Ziglar! We get so much more than achieving our goal. And, we get things we didn’t even know we were missing. =) Thanks for sharing your experience.
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  3. Yes, I so understand this. I have trained and ran marathons. Such a commitment on all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally. It definitely helps to have a support system for those days when the body doesn’t want to get up at 4am to beat the heat (I am in AZ). I admire you – keep up good work!

    • Yikes, Teresa, 4 am is definitely early!! When I was training for a sprint triathlon I was up for early morning swim lessons – definitely takes commitment. Lucky for me, this challenge did not require early morning sessions!!

  4. You are one very ambitions person Deb; hats off to you for completing a sometimes difficult goal! My goal is complete my Uncle Bill’s family story (complete with images and documentation) ready for printing by year’s end. You’re so right, setting a goal and making ourselves accountable for attaining them really DOES work.

    • Thanks Trish – best of luck getting your family story ready for printing – lots of details to address, but you seem like you’ve got a plan in place. Look forward to following your progress!

  5. Wow,Deb! I am so impressed! Outside. Every day. In Maine. In January. Man, could I come up with 100 excuses to get out of that! LOL. You go, girl!

  6. I was loving the post until I got to the part about ‘your sedentary self’. OMG- you are talking about me- I admire what you committed to & accomplished. I’m just not in a mindset and I’m inspired by what you took on. I see all the components that supported you & when ready for whatever it is I want to do physically, I know what is needed. Glad you wrote this blog.

    • Oh, Roz, how I love to snuggle in to a winter day and not head outside!! Yet, I managed it. Small steps (literally) got me through this challenge!!

  7. Congrats girl!!!! I hope you keep up with the daily outings.. you’re body, mind and spirit will thank you 🙂

    I’m chasing the feeling (practice what I preach), that’s how I measure my success. I’m so done with measuring success with $$$
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    • Thanks Gisele – was just outside today doing some snowshoeing with my husband. I hope to get myself outside most days in February as well – definitely feel the difference when I don’t!!

  8. Love how you faced 2016 and took on something that truly challenged you, Deb. Five miles a day does sound very “extreme”, however, it sounds like somewhere in the doing of it, you actually started enjoying it and you discovered something. That setting a goal, committing to it and doing it, actually creates a new sense of productivity in other areas of your life. We have been having amazing weather here to and I know that certainly is welcome support from Mother Nature. Congratulations and may January be just the beginning of new things that you want to Focus, Finish and Follow Through on…. 🙂
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    • Lucky for me we had a mild January or five miles a day would have seemed quite extreme to me as well. I learned a lot from completing this challenge – never thought I’d manage to set aside enough time for five miles a day. Funny, though, how I was more productive with my work than I had been w/o setting aside that time. Lots of lessons learned for me.

  9. Congratulations on achieving your goal. I live in North Dakota so I completely know what you mean about January being a tough month to be outside. We had it warmer than normal on most days. We got a puppy last year so I now walk Zeus twice a day around our 1 mile loop. I have to admit it was really tough on the couple of days that were below zero and a couple of days where the wind was unbelievably windy but I did it. Nothing like a challenge or a dog to keep you accountable. By the way I love Zig’s quote. He had so many fantastic ones. It is true, it is more important regarding what you become. Sounds like you are definitely a finisher.
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    • Thanks Karen – oh my goodness, I don’t know how you dog owners manage walking your dogs every day – rain, snow, sleet, freeeeezing weather!! I was lucky for this challenge that January here was pretty mild. And, February temps so far have been warm as well. A snow storm yesterday spurred me on to go for a great snowshoeing expedition today!!

  10. Good for you!!! Yes celebrate your success and get ready for the next! I’m curious, are you walking 3 miles a day for a year to get to 1,000 miles or can you do longer walks/jogs and take days off? It is amazing what a difference an accountability partner makes & from reading this article, I’d say you are on your way to accomplishing the 1,000 mile challenge! Bravo.

    • Hi Lisa – the 1,000 can be different walks / runs and allows for days off – a pretty flexible way to get the miles in. An accountability partner made all the difference for this challenge. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  11. It’s amazing how our lives change when we undertake a challenge. You’re now a certified Winter Warrior, a morning person and more productive person. Sounds like a triple play winner. Congratulations.
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  12. Congratulations, Deb. My daily walking has actually fallen off for the month of January, so this is a real nudge. The biggest hook for me was unintended consequence of increased productivity. Definitely want some of that!

    • Increased productivity is what’s keeping me going, too. It’s amazing that carving out time to exercise outside made me more productive. Woo hoo!!

  13. Proud of you, that is great. I’m not too fond of the cold, so I keep it to working out at the gym every morning. That is my goal!
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    • That’s a great goal, Kristen, and I’m looking forward to heading to the gym myself!! I love being outside, but I’m sure February will have some cold days where I’ll be happy to be working out inside!!

  14. Hi Deb 🙂
    What an awesome and gratifying thing that you did, especially in the month of January!
    Way to go girl!! Challenge done!
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  15. Hi Deb!
    What an amazing accomplishment! Good for you for staying the course. I have a few accountability partners with the biggest one being myself. A huge Inspiration is looking myself in the mirror at the end of each day knowing I competed to be a better version of me. After all it really is about the journey..who you become while achieving your goals. Zig Zigler is one of my favorite motivational speakers.
    Very inspirational share!

  16. I’m proud of you Deb, for keeping the goal and what it stood for in focus and for going for gold when many others would have quit.

    There is another saying that I remember – Fire proves gold, Adversity proves men. In this case a lady who sees a challenge till the end.
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