When Your Goals Change

When your goals change, it means you're growing and becoming the person you're meant to be- Jessica LawlorEvery January, I dutifully sit at my computer and  research and map out all the races I want to run that year to reach my goal of 12 races in 2012 or 13 races in 2013. I plot out my weekly Broad Street Run training schedule and organize my calendar to my little Type A heart’s desire.

It’s already late January and I haven’t even thought of my first race for the year. In fact, after the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak Challenge ended on January 1, I’ve only run a handful of times.

I thought to myself, “Geez, Jess…it’s almost February…if you want to run 14 races in 2014, you need to get your act together.”

But then I realized:

I don’t want to run 14 races in 2014.

The thought of running 14 races doesn’t excite me anymore. In fact, it kind of exhausts me and makes me dread running.

A similar thing happened last year when I came to the realization that I don’t want to write a novel (right now) even though for years and years, this was my ultimate dream.

Here’s what I’ve come to accept:

Your goals change. And that’s okay.

Not only do your goals change, you change.

Your dreams change.

Your interests change.

Yes, it can be hard to accept, especially when you have certain beliefs, ideals and dreams for yourself that you’ve aspired to all your life, but when your goals change, it means you’re growing.


Becoming the person you are meant to be.

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When you really think about it, it’s a beautiful, healthy and normal thing.

And remember….”not now” does not mean “not ever.”

Putting a goal on hold because you’re more excited and passionate about something else doesn’t mean you have to cross that dream off the list for good.

But listen to your gut. Embrace the change, explore your new interests and do what makes your heart and soul happy. The rest will figure itself out.

Have you experienced this feeling lately? What do you do when your goals change? Share your stories in the comments below.

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  • This was great to read as I’m still solidifying my goals for this upcoming year. We always strive to take what we’ve done in the past and do more or go bigger. Sometimes that’s not what we need or really even want. It IS ok to change and thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thank you so much for your comment, Anna! I think what you said is SO important, which is why I included it in my newsletter! 🙂 It’s hard to NOT want to go bigger, but at some point, that just becomes impossible.

  • Absolutely, 100% agree with you. We need to be OK with our goals changing. The hard thing for me is when my goals change personally but I still see a bunch of friends going after what I thought my goals would be or think they should be. For example, I became really close with some people during ultra and marathon training last year and now as they go forward with training for more marathons and ultra’s this year I feel like I should be joining them, and sometimes feel a little left out, but I know that personally that’s not what I want to be focusing on right now!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Yes! I can totally relate to this, Amber! SO, SO much. I think that’s the reason I am struggling right now to accept that running isn’t my priority at this point in my life. I see so many other people doing races and running all the time- it’s hard to be okay with the fact that I used to be like that, but now my priorities have shifted. Thanks for making me think about this in a different way. Super smart insight, here!

  • Hiya Jess,

    Thanks so much for sharing this post. I feel the same right now. I’m at a loss right now about my writing and haven’t been online much because of that. I feel like I’m having an identity crisis simply because the I’ve accomplished most of my goals. Finding a new goal has been hard for me. But, at least I can say I’m in good company. Thanks again for the great post. 🙂

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Hi Heiddi,

      It’s SO great to hear from you here! 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling the same way (because I know it’s not a fun way to feel). This is easier said than done, but instead of feeling discouraged about not knowing what’s next, can you turn that negativity into excitement and pride for accomplishing most of your goals? That’s an amazing thing for you!


  • What you need maybe is to reevaluate your training scheme, coz maybe that’s what actually got you tired, physically first and then morally, a little googling on race running training and diet while take a rest for some time could go a long way helping you find new sport challenges that’ll fit your abilities better, without compromising your work on other areas or impacting your personal life 🙂

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Hey Roland. Not sure I need to re-evaluate my training. I’ve actually taken a pretty nice break from training and running regularly. I think we just go through phrases and right now I’m in a phase where running isn’t a priority for me.

  • I’ve been there! I think goals start to be pointless when you don’t feel the drive and motivation to reach them anymore. They should excite you, not make you feel exhausted or drained on the thought of them.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      YES, exactly! A lot of my “goals” lately have made me feel dread, which I think is a BIG sign that I need to re-evaluate.

  • Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections

    I love your thoughts on this. I’m glad you realize that you don’t want to do 14 races in a year. I think goals like that are so motivating when you set them, but when you really get down to it, unless ALL your focus and being was in that one goal, it’s pretty hard to get with it on that.

    I set a goal of reading 25 books this year, which for me would be a lot. That’s kind of the same thing. The only problem is that I really do want to read that many books. I just often times don’t have the time for it.

    Goals definitely change as we change, and I think we should all be a lot more accepting of letting go of those goals instead of just pushing on because we set them.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks, Melissa!

      Goals like that are motivating, but they are also so exhausting if you aren’t 100 percent behind them. Plus, running 14 races was going to get pretty expensive, quickly 🙂

      I think what you said about reading 25 books is important too. Sometimes there ARE goals that we WANT to reach, but we have to take into account whether they are realistic or not. I think it’s super smart that you’ve recognized that it may not be do-able, but that it’s something in the back of your mind that you want to do.

      I love the last sentence of your comment- that is SO true. I just tweeted it 🙂

  • Can definitely relate! I had “Run a half marathon” on my to – do list for a while. I realized I wanted to do one just to say I did it. I’ve realized while I love running there are other things (yoga) that are a bigger priority right now….and that’s okay!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      YES! Same here <3

      After my half, I thought the next logical step was a full…until I realized there was no way in hell I wanted to train for a marathon. I just thought it was something I *should* do.

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  • This is such a great point to remember. We talk a lot about not holding ourselves to the expectations of those around us, but we sometimes forget that evaluating our own expectations is just as important. If your goals look different than they did last year, it’s because you’re growing and changing – and that’s a GOOD thing. Thanks for the reminder Jess 🙂

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks, Amy! YES, evaluating our own expectations is so important. Even though I wrote this post, and understand this on the surface, putting it into practice is always an ongoing challenge.

  • This is perfect! Sometimes it takes forever to realize that a goal is changing because letting go can feel like giving up on something you’ve been dreaming of. But it’s like you said, “not now” doesn’t mean “not ever.” Thanks for putting things in perspective and giving us permission to grow into new goals!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks, Ashley! I’m so glad this post resonated with you! I always have to remind myself about “not now,” “not never.” It’s hard to get a grasp on sometimes.

  • There was a time I kinda wanted to run a marathon – how cool would it be to call myself a marathoner? Esp as I am surrounded by a lot of distance runners who pop out 20 and 40km training runs like it’s nothing.

    But I’ve done a couple 10ks and while they’re good fun and I feel I physically could do longer races, I really don’t want to. I do not enjoy running for hours on end. So I’m letting go of that.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      YES, YES, YES.

      I am totally with you on this example.

      After I ran a half marathon, I was kind of like, “welp…my next step must be a full marathon.” But then I realized, WHOA. I do not even want to run one! It’s sometimes hard to distinguish what you *actually* want to do vs. what you think you *should* do.

      I love to hear that you’re letting go of that thought. Something I need to learn how to do.

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  • Your words are like therapy gold. What a wonderful reminder to be gentle to ourselves and allow change when it calls.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thank you SO very much! This comment absolutely made my day. Would you mind if I shared it on my blog testimonials page?

  • Erin Knoll MacMinn

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! I’m 36 and I am realizing that my dreams are changing. I can’t following things right this minute but I am going to start taking steps!!!!

    • Good for you, Erin! 🙂 Love to hear that! Your dreams can truly change at any time. Just be open to the possibilities.

  • Mon A R

    Thank you very much for writing this! I’ve decided to postpone a particular goal that I was very definite on doing at a certain time, and told a lot of people I would do, but that I don’t feel well enough to do at this moment. I’m only putting it off for about 7-8 months but I still really fear the judgement of others for not ‘seizing the day’ and doing everything as soon as I can. Also I feel like they think I’m a bit of a joke for changing my mind. The whole ‘carpe diem’ thing can at times lead to anxiety if we don’t feel we’re ticking things off our bucket list constantly. I’m trying to be brave enough to take the time I know I need for myself and accept that maybe I won’t do everything I thought I would because I’m human, and thats actually ok! Thanks again.

    • Good for you for putting it off and recognizing that it’s not right for you RIGHT NOW. Don’t feel like a joke! Be proud that you had the foresight to know what’s right for you. Best of luck <3

      • Mon A R

        Thanks again! It helps a lot to know other people go through similar things when the doubt creeps in. Love your work!

  • lily

    I know this article is for almost 3 years ago, but I found it now as I was searching to know if it is normal to not be excited anymore, for a goal that I have been worked on so hard…
    I’m 23 and since I was 16 I had this dream to become a lawyer, so after school I worked really hard and last year I got my Bachelor’s in Law being always the first student. During this whole time I was simply enjoying what I was doing but sometimes I also pushing myself because I knew I wanted to be successful in this field, I wanted to move to France to do my Master, so now I am in France doing my Master, living my dream, the goal that I had on my 16, but as time passes I am becoming more and more sure that I don’t like it anymore…. I don’t like what I am doing, I get bored in classes and I don’t enjoy it anymore… First I thought it is because I changed my country and after a year it will be ok, but no! when I think about it, I realize that the reason I wanted to be a successful lawyer was because I just wanted to defend people, to have positive impact on their life, but now I see there is lots of other professions which are more helpful for people , like being a life mentor, motivational speaker etc., I am really disappointed. The only thing I am sure about, is that I am different person as I was in my 16, and I am still in the changing process, so I don’t know this is going to end exactly how.
    Thank you so much for writing about it, and I would appreciate ALOT if you could also reply me, in some points I’m happy that it is 3 years later so I can know is something changed in you about this article or you think in the same way. Thanks:)

    • Hi Lily! I’m so glad you came across this post three years later, and that my words resonate with you- how incredible! Good luck pursuing your dreams…no matter how many times they may change 🙂 <3


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