Goals are a Commitment
'Tis the New Year and many people have set resolutions for 2019. Some of these people have planned these goals for days, weeks and maybe even months before jumping in headfirst into their resolutions for 2019.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: You don't have to wait for January 1st to start on your resolutions/goals.
Okay, maybe it's not really a secret, but it's definitely something people tend to overlook when planning new goals, whether it's a lifestyle change, a training plan or a career or fitness goal. True, some lives revolve a strict timetable, such as the academic semester. But even with the tightest and most demanding of schedules, your goals don't have to wait for the new year or month (or even week) to start your plan.
Honestly, it's more beneficial to start your planner soon after you finished setting and planning your path to your goals. Think of your goal like it's a 20 page paper with a set deadline. You know the deadline is 2 months from now. You set a schedule for setting up the paper, then writing a draft, editing it, writing a second draft, have it checked out by your peers, and you still have time to spare for sleep. Maybe, you go ahead and create a thesis, then an outline; maybe you start the introduction. Then you forget to finish the introduction, so you put it off until the next day....then the next week....then the week after...And suddenly the paper is due on the professor's desk tomorrow at 1 pm, and it's 10pm right now.
You had this awesome plan to write the greatest paper in your academic career thus far, and by not following through with your perfectly established plan, you ended up scrambling to piece together 20 pages: making the font a size 13 and the punctuation a size 14, inserting longer block quotes to take up more space....you get the gist.
Waiting to start on your plans is only just delay the start of your own personal progress that you desperately planned to the very last detail. And waiting to start will only make your goals seem more daunting and terrifying to face, and you're less likely to commit to starting or staying on your journey towards achieving them. Your anxiety levels may escalate and you become more withdrawn, or you distract yourself by starting a blog rather than facing your goals.
Here are some tips about setting goals and how you can implement them as soon as possible.
Before I go on...
You don't have to have a goal if you're involved with sport (or any other hobby for that matter).
Many people become involved with sport just because they enjoy it, and you don't have to have a goal in order to have fun. Some people (like myself) have to have goals just because they're wired that way. Others, don't want to, and enjoy sport for what it is. Be mindful of what your body says when you're active and have fun!
1) Have a clearly defined goal
Some people use "SMART" to help set their goals: (1)
- Specific: a well-defined goal will allow you to take the appropriate steps towards that goal, and it will make it seem less daunting when broken up into details. An ambiguous goal tends to have a looming effect that doesn't seem to be achievable.
- Measurable: you can track progress and success, such as dates, time, and metrics/data,
- Attainable: challenging enough to raise your personal bar, but not too challenging that it seems to impossible (but I'll talk more about this in another post)
- Relevant: something that relates to your personal growth and motivation
- Time Bound: specific time frame to accomplish this goal
For example: Jane is a 24 year old buisness consultant who has a 45 hour work week, never really involved in sports, but wants to run a local 5k because she was inspired by Des Liden's performance in the 2018 Boston Marathon. So she says initially, "I'm going to run a 5k someday." While this specifically mentions a 5k, and it's relevant and somewhat attainable to her goal of running a local 5k, it's not time-bound. She'll doesn't have clearly established deadline to compete in that 5k.
"I'm going to run [insert 5k race] in 15 weeks."
This goal has a specific time-frame and have a specific event. She can use this time frame to track her progress with every day and week leading up to the event. She can even use the event as her final measurement of her progress and possible a new base for her next goal.
2) Planning the journey to your goal
Now you've set a "SMART" goal, you can plan the weeks leading to your goal. What's your sub-goal for week 1? Week 2? (etc...)
Coaches use blocks to cut up the overall training plan into specific sub-goals, which also had specific goals within each block. Breaking your goal down into smaller, bite-size pieces allows you to progress further towards your goal in the long-term without feeling overwhelmed. If you're a bit a confused, think of the pieces as checklist, containing a list of a couple of aims that need to be accomplished in that specific time-frame.
Another benefit of bite-size pieces of progress is having some leeway in your plan. As I'll mention later, sometimes you have to be a little bit flexible in your plan in case you get sick or injured, get tackled by another project, etc. Having a little bit of flexibility will allow you to stay on track on your plan in the future.
If you're setting up a training plan, either with or without the help of a coach, be sure to include a rest week every 3-5 weeks, which will allow your body to absorb all of the hard work you did in that training block. It will also help you reset mentally for your next block.
3) Beginning your execution plan
Like I mentioned earlier, delaying your starting point is only going to delay your own growth in any aspect of your life, let it be your career, training, or personal. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure you start your progression towards your goal. Setting a definitive start date will give you time to get everything you need before you start your plan. Another useful tactic is starting as soon as possible so you don't begin to procrastinating on your own progression.
4) Sticking to your plan
Yay! You've just started. Now the most important part of any achievement is the journey that precedes it; meaning, staying on track. It's hard, especially when we're by ourselves and figure we should give ourselves an extra rest day (or week) because of that awesome work we did that week. Using your sub-goals and bite-size pieces of your plan that you initially set will help you stay on track and move towards your goal.
5) Getting back on track when life throws some curveballs
Sometimes life throws us some curve balls or we're dropped from our own personal progress. Using the little bite-size pieces from your plan, you can still execute your plan without procrastinating. You may have to take a day (or a few) off to let your body to properly recover from any overtraining, illness or any overwhelming stresses. Letting yourself get back to optimal physical and mental health will set you up to conquer any to-do lists and manage stresses in a healthy manner.
6) Enjoy the process!
Sure, the destination or your end goal, is your target for a certain period of time, but don't forget to enjoy the journey there. While attempting to reach the top of Mount Washington with friends might be the destination of a spontaneous road-trip, the actual road-trip itself and the hike are what make up the bulk of your time, and make the most interesting memories. So don't be afraid to take a look around, take a breather, or go off on a tangent. It makes your journey a little bit more unique.
7) Reaching the end of your journey
You've finally achieved your goal! Congrats! You must feel ecstatic, relieved, and happy (most likely). Cherish these emotions as you go into your next week or two.
8) Beyond your goals
A couple of weeks have gone by and some of you may feel lost, as if you have no idea where to go from here. Take this time to reflect your own journey, the lessons you've learned, and see how you can continue to use them. Maybe, you can set another goal in the same realm in your life, such as training or work. Or you can set another challenge. For example, rather than completing longer distance triathlon, you want to climb all of the 4000+ footers in New England. Life is full of challenges and everyone has this amazing potential achieve their best. As Matt Dixon on the Purple Patch Fitness podcast said, "The best results arrive from pursuits of personal excellence" (EP 36 "A Championship Mindset").
Now you know how to make those resolutions into your personal revolutions. Go out there and enjoy the journey!
References and Links:
More Info about setting SMART goals:
Purple Patch Fitness Podcast, Ep 36 "A Championship Mindset"