Long-Term Goals (Originally Published 11/28/11)

As you may have heard because I won't shut up about it, I've gotten more and more into health and fitness over the last 12 to 14 months. What started it was, last fall I... sort of had not much to do with myself beyond my first semester of grad school, and I had started to really think about what I was putting into my body. So that's when I cut out soda (aside from rum n cokes) and surgically attached a water-filled mug to my hand whenever I am at home or teaching.

My family is also, being relatives of Justin G, big on teasing people. If I ever get doughy or wider, I will find out over the holidays. By chance, my mom gave me a sweatshirt (that I still wear to the gym quite often) that was a litttttle too small for me. I'm not that jerky kid who refuses a thoughtful gift, but when I put it on, my stepdad did say I needed to keep off the beer gut to make sure it wasn't too tight.

I pouted, but, after I saw some pictures from my cruise in January, I needed to hit it harder.

The story isn't that interesting, and it's only about halfway told by this point. But, having lived along the marathon route in both 2010 and 2011, I've longed to be a part of something so massive and personally challenging. I'll never beat the Kenyan machines, but I have convinced myself I can at the very least finish the damn thing (and take the next day or two off of work).

So. I'm going to get myself into the 2012 NYC marathon by raising (at least) $2720 dollars by next October 5th. You will all hear more about this come January.

But the marathon, that's a very specific long-term goal. A goal that, once I finish, will be achieved. It's not subjective or arguable. If I finish, then I did it.

A lot of other goals aren't as easy to pinpoint.

You want to get into shape? Okay. What will you be able to do that you couldn't before? Etc. (This is something I had to answer for myself about five years ago.)

So today I want to ask you to share some long-term goal you have set out for yourself and achieved and (briefly) how you managed to do so.

I can't claim this marathon yet. And while I have done a fair amount of interesting things in my day, many of them were "assumed" goals (eg, once I entered college, the goal was, of course, to graduate).

I can say, though, that one long-term goal I have set out for myself and achieved was writing my thesis without allowing my life to descend into days, weeks, or months of shut-in madness in the library.

I wrote my entire thesis in my dorm room. Usually in the afternoons. Occasionally in the evenings. Never at night (seriously, never). I didn't skip an entire weekend to focus. I didn't forget to shower or bathe. I didn't disappear. And while it wasn't perfect (and I sure don't much enjoy reading it now, so I.. just don't read it), I'm glad that, during what was a very stressful year for me, the biggest academic part of it didn't really hang over my head like an anvil. It just became a part of my weekly schedule and it got handled.

(If you want me to share how dorky my scheduling was: back then, “Law and Order” came on TNT from 2-4. So every Monday, Weds, and Fri I would watch it, and write two pages of my thesis. Never failed. And at 4 “Charmed” would come on and I'd run away to the gym. Sundays some movie or whatever would be on, and I'd have that in the background. And I did this, just about every week, from Thanksgiving to the end of March. Handed that shit in early.)

So. What long-term goals have you set and achieved? And I'm talking about things under your control. Not, “I want to meet a wife/husband this year,” because, no. Heh.

Peace and love,

Justin PBG


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality