I’m 53 years old currently, but it turns out setting goals started when I was a child.
As a child, I loved being outside. I loved riding my bike and hiking in the mountains of Northern California. And I especially loved playing soccer and softball. Setting new goals starting early for me! I was on a competitive girls’ soccer team in California but when I moved to Pennsylvania, my school didn’t have a girls’ team. So, what was a girl to do? Join the boys’ soccer team, of course! It was 1978, and I was breaking ground – but didn’t think of it that way; I just wanted to help my team win! But, as the only girl on the team, I got quite a few disapproving stares from the sidelines. Many negative comments were muttered from adults and children. Some people felt it wasn’t “fair” that a girl was allowed to play on a boy’s soccer team.
It was 1978, and I was breaking ground – but didn’t think of it that way; I just wanted to play soccer and help my team win!
Softball and tennis would be up next! I had played softball for years, but tennis was new. It is pretty risky to start a new sport in 10th grade. Many people thought this was a really crazy idea. Was I too old to start a new sport? My coach worked with me during the on and off season which led me to play Varsity singles by my senior year and I was even offered tennis scholarships at Pace University and Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.
Playing tennis in my freshman year of college was not a priority because I wanted to focus on my classes college life. In my sophomore year in college, I decided to play tennis again but I felt lost! When you don’t like your coach, you are missing your boyfriend, and you just plain feel uninspired, you feel directionless.
For the next 15 years, I did not participate in any sports. The “real world” was hitting me in the face – it was time to get a job and start “adulting.” Like many people, I got into a cycle of working out for a while and then losing motivation. And then I would take a long hiatus – until I decided to work out again.
That changed, in 2002, when I decided to train for the Chicago Marathon. It was time to conquer another Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
That changed, in 2002, when I decided to train for the Chicago Marathon. It was time to conquer another Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I joined a training group, met some great people, and finished the marathon. In 2005, I ran the Chicago Marathon again and knocked 23 minutes off my previous time. But, I wanted to try something else. I still hadn’t found the “right” thing, yet.
January 2010, at the age of 45, I needed a change. My relationship with my boyfriend was not going well, I was grieving the loss of my father, and I was not healthy in any way. I was desperate to feel better and decided to attend a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) seminar, hosted by Lululemon. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person but I needed an extra push! Leaving the BHAG seminar, my Big Hairy Audacious Goals were to lower my cholesterol, start exercising regularly again and to fit into a pair of jeans that no longer fit me. Not that different than a lot of you, probably.
That night, one of the employees told me about CrossFit. It sounded interesting, but it took me three months to work up the courage to step foot into the gym. Fear kept me from trying as soon as I wanted to but I eventually walked in the door. I was so intimidated to see very fit people working out. Immediately running out of the building seemed like the best thing to do but instead, I stayed and subsequently kept showing up. One night one of the coaches said, “It’s good to see you, Gwen! I’d like to see you more often”! Where before I’d felt invisible at my previous gyms/fitness studios, someone had actually noticed if I was at the gym (or not). I started liking the accountability! I felt like I was part of a team again!
In 2011, after my first year of CrossFit, I ranked in the bottom 15% of all female athletes in my age category in the world. I wanted more! That wasn’t good enough for me.
In 2011, after my first year of CrossFit, I ranked int he bottom 15% of all female athletes in my age category in the world. I wanted more! That was not good enough for me. I wanted to become a competitive athlete again so I got my “team” assembled. I hired coaches to help me with my weaknesses, including a nutrition coach. And I worked hard. By 2017, I finished in the top .5% in the world of over 5,000 female athletes in my age group (50-54)!
My most recent BHAG was not starting a new sport, but starting a new career at 53! What I have realized through all of the adversity, dealing with naysayers and obstacles, is that we all must continue starting over, setting new goals, and reaching for new heights. Having your “team” to help you get there is what can make the difference. I want to be on your team so I can help you reach your Big Hairy Audacious Goals!