Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” And that has become a mantra for Rebecca Levenberg.
A little over two years ago, Rebecca was hit by a garbage truck while riding her bike to work. In the accident, she sustained severe injuries, and one of her legs had to be amputated. In the last two years, Rebecca has learned to walk, bike, rock climb, and rollerblade with her bionic leg. She’s also set an inspiring goal: to walk a thousand miles post-accident, one step at a time.
Last Friday, Rebecca came to talk to a group of middle school students about her injury, her rehabilitation process, and her thousand-mile journey, and then we joined her for the end of her 950th mile. As we walked, one student carried a sign that said “950,” and another carried a sign that announced, “Going for 1000.”
Rebecca gave us the “Going for 1000” sign to hang in my classroom, because, as she put it, we can all strive for our own version of walking a thousand miles. For some, “going for 1000” might mean running a marathon. For others, it might mean earning a certain grade in a difficult class, or—oh, gee, I don’t know—finishing a novel.
She gave us some excellent guidelines for setting goals. She said that a goal should be:
Her thousand-mile-journey goal fits all of these criteria. It is clearly challenging and specific. It is measurable, because she has a pedometer to track her progress. It is flexible, because she can walk anywhere, including on a treadmill when the weather is bad. Plus, she can walk a lot on days when she is feeling good, and she can take days off when she needs to. And as long as she takes the journey one step at a time, the goal is absolutely realistic.
I was so grateful to meet Rebecca and have her speak to students, and I wanted to share these five criteria for goals along with Rebecca’s amazing story. I hope they help you “go for 1000” in whatever way you choose!