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A Year of Establishing Priorities vs Setting Goals


Last week, I wrote a post that expressed my thoughts on some frustrations that I am having with my injury and that, as a result, I am not making New Year’s goals this year. Later on that day, I had some moments of pause where thoughts came across my mind that shed new light on the situation. They might not be as profound to some of you as they seemed to me, but I thought I might share them nonetheless in case they might help others out there who are feeling a bit ambiguous at the moment.

2015: A Year of Turning the To Do List Into Goals

Last summer, I wrote a post about how I had these goals, these accomplishments that I wanted to go after, but I felt that I was stagnated; I realized that I was making to-do lists to survive the day-to-day rather than making plans to get me to my goals. It wasn’t a total turn around, but by fall, I had really started to put myself in positions to say “yes” rather than “maybe.” I truly believe that the flux in certain opportunities, the feeling of powerlessness after the Phoenix Marathon (which went so well that it threw everything into question by contrast), and then the ultimate empowerment of my marathon coaching made me realize that I just couldn’t keep holding out for the unknown which might never come. I needed to be more proactive in my life, and I started to be as I redesigned the blog, got my logo, became a running coach, and started my coaching business.

Susie's 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Finisher's Medal with its engraving. What an experience! Read about it at

Goals started to work for me. They gave me a timeline, deadlines even–something that I respond very well to. I am the type of person that can accomplish innumeral tasks in a silly amount of time if you just give me a deadline. But if you tell me to just do it when I do it…. ooooo look at the butterflies! 

During the Chicago Marathon, my first 4 miles by myself were fine but almost tortuous because I didn’t have a plan, a set goal. The lack of that pressure was definitely freeing, but it was also pretty terrible to have that much freedom and know you still had so far to go. Running with Wendy distracted me sufficiently to get far enough into the race that I had to commit or quit, and of course, in that situation, I committed. 

Live Beyond Expectation, everyday. After the 2015 Chicago Marathon, when I finished my secon sub 3:30 Marathon in a year. Running coach and personal trainer services at!

We all know that this injury has been truly difficult for me, not just because I am in pain and not able to run or live the life to which I am accustomed. But this injury has also been very difficult for me because just as I was getting comfortable and confident in setting goals, I am reminded of just how powerless we are in the grand scheme of things. 

As an aside: Many people have said, “Just think of how thankful you will be when you do get to run!” And it makes me want to punch them in the face. Because I already WAS thankful. Of every step, of every mile. I am not cavalier about my running, my health, my ability to move. Having a chronic illness (and marathon training with one) will do that. Trust me. Instead, refer to my suggestions for what you can say to an injured athlete.

And so I have come to this time of year feeling a bit lost. While everyone else is setting forward these goals and aspirations and grandiose schemes of world domination, I am scared to set goals, and I don’t even know which goals to set. I don’t want to set them for the sake of saying that I have goals.

2016: The Year of Establishing Priorities

Enter: This graphic, which I had seen a few times, but all of a sudden, it had new meaning for me.

This year, I am not making goals, I am establishing priorities. |

I am not making New Year’s goals: I am establishing priorities.

It isn’t my goal to get healthy; it is a priority to get healthy. There is no timeline for me with regards to this injury. There are checkpoints along the way. And to clarify, I am not just getting healthy so that I can run again (although obviously that is a major perk): I am getting healthy so that I can have a family, which was one of the original “goals” of this year. But you know what? It might not happen this year, and I am not going to make it a “goal” because I don’t want to put pressure on myself for something I might not be able to control. But health and creating a family is definitely a priority.

Susie and Alex before Andrew and Marie's Wedding, which was on the beach in Virginia Beach.

It isn’t my goal to establish my coaching business; it is a priority. A) it makes me happy B) I want to be a coach for a very long time, and, ultimately, to make something of myself within that world. I can take coaching with me wherever we end up in the next few years.

Running Books for Running Coaches Suzlyfe

It isn’t my goal to read more books on marathon training and running; it is a priority to be the best coach that I can be. To motivate and educate my clients and to help them achieve goals and dreams.

Borat Thumbs Up Meme

It isn’t my goal to be more present with my friends and family; I am making it a priority. Too often do I say, “I’m the worst; sorry for falling out of touch.” Why is it so hard to pick up the phone? Why do shrink away from certain interactions, only to find out that if actually do engage, I generally enjoy it?


So this year is not a year of check boxes and goal check ins. This year, for me, is a year of establishing priorities and maintaining them. 

For @suzlyfe, 2016 is the year of #priorities, not #newyearsgoals #fitfluential #sweatpink Click To Tweet

That said, if any of YOU are pursuing goals, I will be first in line with support and help in any way that I can! Just because I am taking a break from active pursuit of my own goals doesn’t mean that you should follow the same lead. Never forget: coaches and personal trainers like myself want the world to be happy and healthy, we want you crowding our gyms. 

Does this make sense? Anyone else out there looking to establish priorities, rather than goals?

What are your priorities for this year?

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