On Setting Goals and Keeping Commitments

Wonder Woman 5K 2019

WE DID IT!! We completed the Wonder Woman 5K in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, March 24, 2019!! My daughter, Kelli, and I crossed the finish line together, arms raised in victory!

Setting goals and keeping commitments are very important to our family. Without goals, our life is random and often unfulfilling. Without commitments, our life lacks meaning. If you want integrity and fulfillment in your life, then set a goal and keep the commitment to the end.

After I completed a 5K early last year, my daughter decided she wanted to do one too. Kelli told some important people in her life that she was making a commitment to complete a 5K. She was so excited about it, she could hardly contain herself.  Watching me train for a 5K had inspired her to get involved. It would require her to get off the couch…something she had watched me do already.

It would require her to get off the couch...something she had watched me do already.

In March 2018, we started to train by going to the gym and working out. We went very regularly for several weeks and she seemed to really enjoy it. She is 20 but doesn’t drive so she is dependent on me to get to the gym. So when I experienced a physical problem a couple months into our training and was unable to workout, her workout stopped as well. Of course, she could have continued on her own, even walking/jogging in the neighborhood but she is not very self motivated so she just stopped. She also discovered through the process of training that she doesn’t like to run. I started hearing grumbling about it and she was throwing out hints about not doing the 5K because she just didn’t like running.


Discouragement was lurking nearby and I did not want her to give up. Changing her mind would be tricky but I wanted to help her find a new perspective. We talked about what it means when you make a commitment and how important it is to keep your word, but honestly, she had watched me say I will do things but not follow through. I realized the best way to help change her mind was to show her, by my own example, that doing what you say you are going to do is very important. So, I started going back to the gym and encouraged her to go with me. We also talked about the option to walk the 5k or do a walk/jog combination. She warmed up to that idea and was willing to start working out again.

Over the course of several months, Kelli was wishy-washy in her commitment to the 5K. She went through periods of inconsistency with her workouts and still wasn’t 100% committed. Then her dad came up with a great idea – a great way to motivate her. He knows her well and knows that she is motivated by goals and recognition. So he challenged her to a bet. If she won, he would take her out on a date to dinner and a movie, all of her choosing. However, if she lost, then she would pay to take him out. Kelli jumped at this challenge and was excited to try it. Here’s the bet: she had to walk on the treadmill for 1 solid hour without stopping. Could she do it? Of course she could, if she stayed with it even when she wanted to quit.

That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? Many of us set goals or say we are going to do something.

That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? Many of us set goals or say we are going to do something. How many of us actually follow through to completion? How many of us stick with it, even when it becomes difficult or isn’t turning out the way we had in our head? Following through to the end is a noble characteristic. I have struggled with follow through in my earlier, bystander years. When you are always looking for the easy way, following through is not usually your “go to” choice. Following through can be the hard way, but it is always the better way.

Challenge day arrived. She was very excited and had been talking trash to her Dad. Her confidence would help her win the bet. We went to the gym at 7:30 am and she started walking on the treadmill. Covering the screen helped her not be distracted by the time and distance moment by moment. She did want to know her progress at one point so I told her when 31 minutes had passed. and she was more than halfway there. Kelli was doing great. Then 2 minutes later, she had to take an emergency break. She just couldn’t avoid it, so she had to pause the treadmill to take a break. 

I don’t think she fully realized that she was making a choice to lose the bet at that moment. She returned quickly and got started walking again. When I informed her that she lost the bet because she took a break, the wind blew out of her sails. I knew she was disappointed but encouraged her to keep going to complete the hour, just so she knew she could do it. She did walk for another 21 minutes, but then decided to stop. I think the break and the disappointment seriously affected her motivation.

I think the break and the disappointment seriously affected her motivation.

Telling her she did a great job anyway and encouraging her boosted her spirits. It had been several months since she had worked out so even walking for 52 minutes was a good outing for her. We contacted Dad to let him know what happened and asked him for a favor. We asked if he would consider allowing today’s walk to be a trial run and if he would give her a do-over on the actual challenge. He said YES! So, she would complete the real challenge the next morning.

She got up the next morning, ready to face the challenge and win! She had a great attitude and desire to win. I had been talking to her about how much her attitude counts in regard to achieving goals and winning challenges. I found a quote by Henry Ford and shared it with her. It says, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I explained what that meant to her because she didn’t quite understand. 

You see, my daughter is autistic. She is very high functioning, went through school in regular classes and graduated from high school. But there are still some things she just doesn’t get, things that go over her head or things of which she doesn’t understand the meaning. 

She is very good at coping, in fact, her teachers often missed the fact that she needed help because she could fake it really well. Many times, they had no idea she wasn’t understanding concepts or the fact that she had no idea what was expected of her. It is even true with her dad and I. There are times when we just assume she understands, only to find out later that she really didn’t.

“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

So I explained to her how much control we have over outcomes in our life based on our attitude and thoughts about it. It helped her to see that it was largely up to her, whether or not she won the bet with her dad. Once she understood that, she decided she was going to win. So she did!! And she did it with plenty of energy left over. I think she even surprised herself a little. I knew she could do it and I told her so. 

She had given me permission to be her coach/trainer so she accepted my encouragement and promptings to keep going, even if she felt tired. We are so proud of her for following through and winning. The bet was to walk for 1 hour without stopping. She walked non-stop for a solid hour and at a good pace. She actually walked a 5K in exactly 58 minutes, then walked 2 more minutes to win the bet.


Fast forward to last weekend, March 24th, and Kelli has an awesome Wonder Woman 5K medal to show her effort in reaching her goal and keeping her commitment. I’m so proud of her for sticking with it, even through times she wanted to quit, to keep her commitment and finish the race! She overcame the struggle and followed through on her commitment! Extra bonus: doing it together as mother & daughter! PRICELESS!!


Is there something out there you want to do but have been hesitant? Maybe fear is holding you back. Have you set a goal but then let it go and not followed through? It is never too late to make it right. Set that goal, then work toward it, step by step, to completion, keeping the commitment. You’ll be so glad you did!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. So true! Making a commitment and following through with it can be challenging at times yet so rewarding. It teaches me that I am strong, that I have integrity, and that others can trust me that my word is my word. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

    1. Yes! Setting the goal is important but keeping the commitment is where the rubber meets the road. Thank you, Carol!

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