The Power of Specific Goals: Why I’m Going to Run a 1:50 Half Marathon

leadership goal setting sales

The Power of Specific Goals

If you’ve been in the sales game for a while you’ve no doubt been introduced to the goal setting acronym S.M.A.R.T.    In short, it proposes that the best and most achievable goals are:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.  Up there with the 80-20 rule, this is one of the most quoted and rock solid approaches to planning for success.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence (or because it makes the cool acronym work…) that SPECIFIC is the first attribute on this list.  If you look back at Dr. Edwin Locke’s pioneering work in The Goal Setting Theory (1968), in which the S.M.A.R.T. approach is rooted, you’ll notice that one of the key findings was that specific and difficult goals are significantly more achievable than general and easy goals.

This idea was on my mind when I signed up last week to complete a half marathon.  I’m not much of a “runner,” so this was kind of a big deal for me and I wanted to set a goal to reflect that.  Here is a look into my mind (scary, I know) and how this vague thought/idea was sharpened into a SPECIFIC goal:


I want to run race:  This was my starting point, but just an idea or dream versus a specific goal.  I’d simply watched some runners over the last month at a 5-K and the idea came to life.

I want to run a half marathon:  I ran the NJ Half Marathon back in 2014.  It felt great to finish but I don’t feel like I left my best mark on the distance.  So, a half marathon was the race I landed on.  Still not a particularly specific goal, but certainly challenging given my minimal running credentials.

I want to run a half marathon in under 2 hours:  Not a blazing speed by any means, especially for an experienced runner, but a good benchmark.  I finished the NJ Half Marathon in 2 hours and 8 minutes in 2014 so the goal that came to mind was 1 hour and 50 minutes.  This met Locke’s criteria for specific (and for me, certainly challenging.)

I want to run it before I’m 40 years old:  Since I won’t be running out and buying a sports car, why not mark a mid-life milestone with a personal achievement like a half marathon.  A personal and emotional connection always helps to cement a specific goal.  I’ve got until November 17, 2015 to get ‘er done.

I want to pick a memorable race location:  There are a ton of races out there but I wanted to pick a spot I’d enjoy and remember.  In my search, I came across the Fall Foliage Half.  It takes place during the peak of foliage season in the quaint Hudson Valley NY town of Rhinebeck.  The course takes you through town, out into the country and along the Hudson River.  That seemed to hit the mark.

After working it through, I finally had a specific goal to sink my teeth into.


Think about it…how often do we leave our personal AND professional / sales goals vague – like “running a race” – and then act surprised when we don’t achieve them?

  • I want to hit my quota
  • I want to make more money
  • I want a promotion
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to have more free time
  • I want a better relationship with my spouse

I’ve made goals like these countless times in the past and the result has been the same:  nothing.

Get SPECIFIC and challenge yourself to accomplish more than you ever dreamed of.  Vague, unclear goals will always lead to uncertain results.  Running a half marathon in less than 1:50 this October 11th isn’t exactly changing the world, but it’s a clear, SPECIFIC step for me toward better health and achievement!

What will yours be?  How will you challenge your sales team to set SPECIFIC goals and achieve outstanding results in the second half of 2015?

If you’re looking for some guidance in the goal setting process, click on the image below for a FREE 90-Minute Goal Setting Workshop you can work through on your own or with your sales team.  It’s super easy and no time out of the field.  Give it a try by simply subscribing to my blog!

leadership goal setting sales

Wish me luck,


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “The Power of Specific Goals: Why I’m Going to Run a 1:50 Half Marathon

  1. While I have blown the candles out on my cake for 40, I also am working towards a few goal in this magic year, a triathlon sprint.

    Good luck on your goals, I know you will accomplish them all!

    • Hey Frank – thanks for the comment! Good luck with your triathlon…that’s awesome. Just finishing will be an incredible achievement, but do you have any other goals in mind? Have you done any before? I’m sure you’ll crush it.

      Thanks again for stopping by the blog,


  2. Great goals for 40th birthdays. Best of luck! I swam across the Hudson River, it was a mile, for my 40th. It’s become one of my greatest physical accomplishments and a great memory!

    • Kim – that’s awesome! I had no idea. Congrats on such a cool accomplishment and keep setting specific goals (even if just an inch wide but a mile deep) to keep growing. You’ve got a ton to offer so let it shine!