The Goals You Haven’t Set Yet

February 2, 2021

Bree Nidds

Bree Nidds is vice president of sales at Discover Lehigh Valley. In this position, she oversees the meetings and sporting event strategy, and the Lehigh Valley Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Program. She serves as co-leader of the Women's Leadership Committee at the Sports Event and Tourism Association (Sports ETA), and serves on the Global Leadership Committee at Destinations International.

I recently found myself breaking the ice with co-workers and colleagues asking, “What are some of your goals this year?” A new year is a clean slate coupled with a renewed sense of energy, so my inquiries were met with a lot of enthusiasm. Many of my peers had transparent and quantifiable goals, like reading 50 books. Others explained vague ideas like saving more money or starting a nonprofit.

Regardless of the depth or detail provided, I found myself finishing their thoughts with reassurance, “Well you know it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” After using this phrase more often than I care to admit, I reflected on what it actually meant. My reassurance was actually a warning about the potential for burnout, and the likelihood that he or she may not see immediate results. So much for providing words of encouragement!

I decided to move away from asking about goals, or “marathons” altogether, and shifted my focus toward a philosophy that accelerates endurance, adaptability and confidence. A new year means that spontaneous opportunity is likely to occur, along with unforeseen disruptions. While it is not a marathon, it isn’t a sprint either. The winning recipe includes high intensity interval training, or HIIT, for the goals you may not know about yet.

In physical fitness, HIIT includes a wide variety of exercises composed of intense bursts of activity with periods of rest and recovery. HIIT engages two systems: one that allows you to run or walk long distances (endurance), and the system that supports sprinting, jumping or lifting heavy objects (adaptability, confidence). It has become a wildly popular form of exercise because it can often be accomplished anywhere, and includes diverse and engaging moves. A sample HIIT exercise might look like this: 

“Case of the Mondays” Workout

Walk 5 minutes
Jog 2 minutes
Walk 2 minutes
(Repeat three times)

Jump Squats 30 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds
Rest 1 minute
(Repeat three times)

Sprint 1 minute
Walk 1 minute
(Repeat three times)

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat the routine three times each week.

A person who incorporates this exercise into his or her lifestyle does not have to set a goal of running a 5K or half marathon. Through the frequency of this exercise and similar interval routines, he or she has the endurance and the confidence to spontaneously enter a running race, without fear of finishing last (or getting injured). 

 Applying HIIT for a tourism industry professional might look like this:

Board of Directors Meeting

Interpret data
Edit presentation
(Repeat twice)

 Practice presentation
(Repeat twice) 

Present to Board of Directors

Repeat the routine six times annually.

A tourism professional hosting a meeting with his or her board of directors knows that the meeting needs to be successful and engaging. However, that is not necessarily the end goal. This meeting is an exercise approached with moderate frequency, and ensures that at any given moment, he or she is prepared to present to city council to secure additional funding or confidently welcome a 2,000-person conference. With a diverse set of moves and an appropriate amount of recovery, an exercise like this meeting will continue to improve the end deliverable, no matter what that deliverable may be. 

This year, I am committed to focusing on my professional HIIT. While I do not have goals set right now, I will have the endurance, adaptability and confidence to calibrate swiftly and effectively when the spontaneous opportunity and the unforeseen disruption should arise.

One more thought: Recognizing and admitting when you may need help or guidance is an exercise that takes practice. It is a vital interval that will enable you to confidently press the accelerator‚—when the timing is right.


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