What’s your catalyst (10-18-2013)

I’ve discussed goals before, but more in the short-term sense. Today I want to talk about the bigger life goals. The ones that can’t be accomplished with a quick run in the evening. I think it’s crucial for personal and professional growth to always have goals in mind that you are working towards. You want to have professional ones to keep you at the top of your field, and you want to have personal ones to keep you engaged in the life you’re living. Without goals, life can often feel like day to day living, just trying to survive one round of 24 hours in order to get to the next. And, let’s face it, that can be a pretty miserable way to live.

I’ve been setting personal goals for myself fairly well over the last year. The half marathons have really given me something to work towards for myself. My running is something that is mine and mine alone. If you are one of the few who have actually run with me, know that makes you an exception and not the norm. I’m not embarrassed by my running or ashamed to match up with someone. It’s just that everyone needs something that is theirs and for me, that’s my running. No one convinces me to go run, and no one tells me a time or mileage I should shoot for. It’s something I choose for myself, and it’s something I have complete control over. I think everyone likes to feel they have some control in life, but, let’s face it; there are many things that are out of our hands. Except running. Running is entirely in my hands. It’s in my head, my heart and my soul. Running is mine. So if you are one of the few I share it with….maybe now you know how much that means.

So I have my personal goals on track, but lately I’ve been struggling with my professional ones. I have a great job that I love, and I work with people who keep me entertained, on my toes, and engaged. But what’s next? I’ve long debated going for a PhD, but I’ve gotten to the point now where I want a sign. Have you ever had that feeling? You feel like you really could go down either path, and you just want some sign to drop down with flashing neon letters saying “GO THIS WAY.” That’s where I’m at. I’ve been waiting for my sign. I know I am capable of getting a PhD. I don’t lack the confidence, drive, or intelligence, but is that what I want? Is that my next step? I don’t know. Luckily I’m committed to Duke for at least another year and a half, so I have time….but the downside of that is that I’m almost in a holding pattern professionally. And I hate standing still.

But I’ve finally decided my next step. I am currently a health fitness specialist (HFS) through one of the top certification organizations in my field- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). This certification is a step above Personal Trainers, who are only required to be 18 and pass the test. HFS required a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. Well, that certification was a good step forward for me, but now it’s time to take the next one. I want to become a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist. This certification is elite. It requires you to have a Master’s degree in the field, relevant coursework, and 600+ hours working with clinical patients. Additionally, you have to apply to even sit for the exam.

As if that’s not intimidating enough, the pass rate for the exam is about 40%. To put this in perspective there is a 70% pass rate for Personal Trainers and a 55% pass rate for HFS. This test is no joke. But, as with most things in life, if you overcome the adversity, there are great rewards. If WHEN I become certified I will be one of less than 800 RCEP certified professionals. Again, to put this in perspective there are 8500 ACSM Trainers, 9500 HFS, and less than 800 RCEPs. I will be distinguished in my field as one of the few.

So I have my goals., and once I reach them, I’ll set my next ones. I will never stop pushing myself personally and professionally. The goals don’t define me but rather give me something tangible to set my sights on. I still have those days where I’d rather keep on the PJ pants, eat a pizza and watch an entire season of the latest fad show. And on those days, sometimes even the best, most ambitious goal isn’t going to make me move (hey, we can just call those “mental health” days). BUT, on all the other days of my life, I love having something I’m working towards. We all need something to engage us in life. It’s never the same person to person, but we all need that catalyst. What’s yours?

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