Our Goals Are Different – Stop the Comparison

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i make it a goal to run at least twice a week. i do this for two reasons; the first is so that i can create endorphins in my brain to help combat my anxiety/negative self-talk and the second is so i can eat more calories (you burn more, you get to eat more). the actual act of running is far from my favorite but the payoff is worth it for me.

my goal for running is to basically do those two things as i currently have no desire to be training for a race. i think it’s absolutely incredibly that people can run great distances like half-marathons and full marathons but that has never been a goal of mine. endorphins + cookies = why chelsea runs.

run portland bridge colors fall

as i laced up my running shoes (i happen to love these ones), i got a text from my running accountability buddy beki (hiii) and she shared with me that she had just run her farthest yet without stopping! see, that’s why accountability buddies are so good because they inspire you just at the right time. oh and hold you accountable. we text-high-fived and i told her i was going to go run a 5k (that’s really all i need for those endorphins to start being birthed).

i usually let myself stop one to two times while running 3.1 miles around the waterfront because i like getting sips of water from the drinking fountains (as long as no pigeons are sitting on them). i also like stopping to catch my breath. there is just something about gulping down air while stationary that feels better.

sometimes portland greets you with interesting things on these stops too:

run donut shoes exercise

about 7 minutes into my run, my knees started aching but it wasn’t a terrible pain so i slowed down to see if that helped. it did help some but my brain started thinking “well…beki would understand that i stopped and didn’t finish the run because my knees hurt. that’s okay. that’s valid. i should stop.”

then i remembered the two reasons i run and decided those endorphins were worth it. i’d go just a bit farther and see how it felt. i made a new deal with myself:

i can go as slowly as i want but i can’t stop running.

that felt doable. it wasn’t about my pace anymore but just continuing to move despite some discomfort (it wasn’t a bad pain but of course if you’re exercising and you experience more than some discomfort – stop doing it).

here’s the great thing about living in portland…most people are pretty active so lots of people run around the waterfront, which meant most people were passing me. i’m talking white haired grandpas and a mom pushing twins in a stroller. i started to get down on myself that i wasn’t running faster and that all these people were better than me. or maybe they thought i was super out of shape or i should get out of the way so faster people could move with the wind.

then i remembered…they didn’t know the goal i was trying to accomplish.

they didn’t know my goal for that run wasn’t to be super fast, it was to go as slow as i needed but to continuously be moving. likewise, i don’t know the older man’s goal or the mother’s goal. maybe they were training for a marathon, or were doing sprint work and going to walk mere seconds after they darted past me.

this was an important realization on why we need to be focused on what our own goals are (and that they are allowed to change) and chill out with the comparisons. let’s be honest, they probably didn’t even notice me or not for more than 2 seconds because beyonce was cheering them on via headphones and were focused on their own goals.

it can be very easy to compare ourselves to others and yet we have no idea what goal they are going after or what they are trying to accomplish. this stretches to the categories of business goals, relationships goals, health goals and financial goals. our speeds may be different not always because of skill level but also what we are chasing – our goals are different.

happy monday and let’s remember to focus less on what others are doing (or potentially thinking about us) and be more focused on accomplishing the goals we have set out for ourselves!

now that i think about it, maybe i run for endorphins, to eat more and to synthesize life.


  1. Kate

    October 19, 2015 at 7:58 am

    This is a good point, and I try to tell myself that every time I’m at the gym or going for a run! I’m always paranoid that people are watching and critiquing me, but the truth is, like myself, they are probably wrapped up in their own goals!
    Kate recently posted…Weekend of Nothing

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      i totally feel you on that paranoia of people judging or critiquing me (what is up with that?! because i bet most of them don’t even notice us). glad you do this to remind yourself to focus on you!

  2. Audrey

    October 19, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I had similar thoughts this weekend. I thought about where I wanted to be at 25, where I am, and what everyone else had accomplished by 25. Honestly, I thought we’d have a kid. I see friends with +2 kids. I see people still in school or finishing grad school or making way more money than me. I saw people working part-time jobs or still living with their parents. I saw people living alone in big cities. I scrolled through Facebook and spent time wondering what others had been doing at age 25 (including my parents). Such a silly way to pass the hours, lol. It’s a good reminder that we’re all working toward different goals and we reach these goals different ways!
    Audrey recently posted…Winter 2015 Book Challenge #scwbc15

    • jennifermckennasays

      October 19, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I love your comment- At 25– I figured I would have won an Oscar and a Grammy- at 38- I realize I am where I want to be- not comparing to others- its difficult but so satisfying when you realize- they have different goals!!

      • chelsea

        October 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm

        yay! so glad you shared this jennifer and i’m so happy you have realized you are right where you want to be 🙂

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      i totally feel you on that audrey! we tend to set these benchmarks related to age and then feel disappointed when we aren’t there yet (even though we are probably doing something better). it’s even trickier at times because of social media…we can “see” what others are up to even though we don’t have the full story. thanks for your thoughts and happy birthday (a few days late) 🙂 you are right where you are supposed to be!

  3. Erin @ Very Erin

    October 19, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I’m the same way with working out! I do NOT have lofty aspirations when it comes to fitness. I have no desire to run a marathon or beat any records. I’m pretty much just in it for the cookies. I try to do the same thing with myself when I’m on the elliptical. I’m okay with going slowly as long as I’m moving the entire time!
    Erin @ Very Erin recently posted…12 Perks of Growing Up in a Small Town

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      i feel you erin! we can focus on our cookies and cheer on those marathoners (honestly i’ve stood at the end of races and tears welled in my eyes because of how proud i felt for these people running so far!) let’s just keep moving!

  4. Christine

    October 19, 2015 at 8:41 am

    What a positive and encouraging blog today! As a person who has physical disabilities that are not plainly seen, I need to be periodically reminded to quit beatin up on myself for worrying about how others judge me. My goals ARE all that matter!

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      i am glad you found it positive and encouraging, christine! thanks so much for reading and for your comment. you are so right that your goals are the only ones that matter and to go about them in a way that works great for you!
      chelsea recently posted…Our Goals Are Different – Stop the Comparison

  5. brittany

    October 19, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I like this and its a good point. I have had a similar ah ha moment recently. I played soccer in college and working out on my own was always still very competitive, if only with my self. But I am getting older now and my body is starting to hate me for what I put it through when I was younger. Working out became a stress because I wasn’t able to perform like I used to and so I just didn’t for a while (that and work/school had me pretty busy). I found though that I was a happier and more energetic person when exercising and I had to get over this fear of not bering able to run like I used to. I train for triathlons now, even though I do one maybe once a year, its enough keep me going. I try to keep 2 things in mind. The first is I now exercise by two rules. Rule 1: Have fun! Rule 2: Don’t forget rule number 1. The other is that I am new to triathlons and I train to survive. I am not trying to win a triathlon, just to finish. I sign up for them so that I feel that I have a purpose to work out. So the goal is to finish alive. I think that by finding a new sport to compete in, it helped to lower my competitiveness and its now just kind of a fun hobby.

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      i am so glad you brought this aspect into the discussion brittany! competition with yourself is another beast and thanks for sharing about your soccer/workouts then and now. your two rules are fantastic – keep having fun! haha glad you are training to survive those triathlons too – stay alive!

      good luck with your next triathlon, i’m so glad you found something that feels like a good balance!

  6. jennifermckennasays

    October 19, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Excellent post chelsea! I personally run to train for 1/2 marathon and in the process get as healthy as possible to prepare to be a mom. Not pregnant yet, but living intentionally with the idea that exercise will be a part of our routine as a family. Since I hurt my back in May, I have had to slow down considerably and go back to walking and that is frustrating but has been medically necessary. I just got back to slow jogging and it feels great- lacing up my shoes now to go run with my accountability buddies Susie and Jessica- they rock- we also each set an intention for the week and check on each other- Its awesome and each goal is usually different!

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      hot dang that is so awesome that you run to train for your 1/2 marathon – SO impressed and yay getting healthy for a baby (i currently have a huge grin on my face for you!)

      i am sorry to hear about your back injury but ultimately you are working out smarter so that you heal appropriately and hopefully get back where you want to be! love that you have susie and jessica to support you too! you go ladies!

  7. Mark

    October 19, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Hi Chelsea
    I’ve never commented before, thought I’d try it (-:
    As I believe it relates to your blog. Its been said

    Winners compare their achievements to their goals,
    Losers compare their achievements to others.

    • chelsea

      October 19, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      heeeeey it’s my favorite father-in-law! SO happy to see your comment on here (though i know you read every post, which i absolutely appreciate) 🙂

      that’s a great quote too and i think one that we’ve all experienced at some point before!

  8. Elyse

    October 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    As you know, I love this topic of comparisons! I actually had a weird conversation last week with an acquaintance and she was shocked that at my age I didn’t own a house yet…I kept my cool but really? I’m not THAT old and it’s not like I have a spare $1.5 million (the average price for a house in Toronto) and not to mention we have our own goals and aspirations and right now we have no idea where we want to settle down so a house would be a stupid move….this definitely turned into a rant…Let’s just say I 100% agree with you on this!
    Elyse recently posted…(Almost) Wordless Weekend

    • chelsea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:36 am

      glad you kept your cool elyse and i’ve started another post on how judgy we get with how people spend money or what we haven’t ‘acquired’ yet because we face the same thing in regards to a house/two cars/etc!

      and omg….that’s the average price for a house in toronto?! i guess i’ll feel grateful that portland is only a fraction of that! and of course…always feel free to rant away because i feel a lot of the same things you do!

  9. Joey

    October 20, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Oh my gosh YES TO ALL OF THIS. When I started running, I was running so slowly that walkers were actually passing me. It was so hard not to just quit, but I had to keep reminding myself that everyone starts somewhere. It’s easy to see where everyone else is and feel down on ourselves. Our goals are FOR US.

    • chelsea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:37 am

      excellent point that everyone starts somewhere, joey! glad you kept going after your goal because at the end of the day, it really does come down to why we are going after something that that goal is OURS! thanks for you comment!

  10. Amanda

    October 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I had never thought of exercise as a means to stuff my face more. Now that’s a marketing tactic for exercise I can buy into!
    I was at a women’s leadership seminar a while back and the speaker was also a runner. She shared a tip to always stay in your current mile. So in mile 1, don’t worry about mile 2 until you get there. And to keep going, think of getting through each minute at a time. After you end 1 minute of running, tell yourself to do one more. And keep going, because breaking it down that way seems way less daunting than running 13 miles, or for 2 hours or whatever.
    Amanda recently posted…Outdoors in Fargo

    • chelsea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:39 am

      hahah i mean i guess exercise makes you healthy too but i’m all about burning more calories so i can eat more (and usually try to make most of the excess eating healthy) 🙂

      thanks so much for sharing that anecdote from the women’s seminar you were at! such a great point on focusing exactly where you are at in that moment and not dreading what’s ahead (or maybe even how rough the last mile was). totally like that!

  11. Caitlin @ Candyfloss & Persie

    October 20, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    the compare game is no good! it really leads to nothing good. you can improve yourself and your goals without putting it in the backdrop of someone else’s success.

    Love your running route and the pics of my home 🙂 I used to always run the PDX waterfront at lunch.

    • chelsea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

      well said, caitlin about improving ourselves without having to compare it to someone else’s success!

      awww yay! isn’t the waterfront the best place to run?! i love seeing the different views of the city!

  12. Rachel G

    October 20, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I don’t run at all, and never want to. But I really like your idea about how we all have different things we’re working towards. Sometimes my grandpa gets on me about my lack of retirement savings or normal savings–not sure if I can tell him that the goal of my life isn’t retirement….hahaha….
    Rachel G recently posted…A Walk in the Park

    • chelsea

      October 21, 2015 at 8:44 am

      i don’t blame you rachel…i was actively a proponent of anti-running until a few years ago! glad you agree with the premise that we are all working towards different things! i am in the same boat, we are spending our money different (aka not putting it into retirement) and maybe we will later but sometimes grandpas don’t get that!

  13. Charlene

    October 22, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Absolutely! This is such a great post. I am so guilty of comparing myself to others and I have to remind myself often that I don’t know their stories. Whether I perceive myself as better or worse than another person, it’s not fair. I don’t know what they’ve been through. I will never know the whole story. And that’s okay. We’re all on different journeys.
    Charlene recently posted…Fear Not, For I am With You

  14. Katie @ Beyond the Clothing

    October 22, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Really great advice. I workout for cookies too, and cocktails. They’re just such great motivators. Thanks for reminding us all to do our own best. I tend to spend lots of time comparing myself to friends and family. But I feel much better when I don’t. I try to remember as long as I go… I’m lapping everyone that didn’t get off the couch.

    Katie @ Beyond the Clothing recently posted…3 ways We Do Birthdays Differently

  15. amber

    October 22, 2015 at 11:30 am

    this is spot on. this is SPOT. ON. and mostly because it sings the same tune (but in a much more upbeat way) that we don’t know who is fighting what battle when we come in contact with them. we haven’t a clue the hard day or tough time or generally terrible morning someone has before we meet them… just as we don’t have the same goals as any other person and so our approach to any one thing is not wrong, but a reflection of our process. whoof, love.
    amber recently posted…on safe places: a marriage letter

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