I’ve been dragging my feet on this post because I’m not a huge fan of new year’s resolutions. First let’s call them goals instead of resolutions. I like setting goals and encourage setting objective, measurable and attainable goals, but I don’t think we need to wait for the new year to do this and I actually think if we wait specifically for the new year and call them new year’s resolutions, we risk setting goals that are doomed to fail.
I’m not trying to be a downer about this. There’s actual research on it.
Last year, The University of Scranton reported that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions, yet year after year, 45% of us continue making them.
So how do you get yourself out of the cycle?
While there are many reasons our resolutions fail, these seem to be the major culprits:
- We set too many goals,
- We reach too far when setting our goals
- We’re not specific enough about our goals
- We don’t write them down
- We don’t celebrate the small accomplishments
1. Don’t set too many goals. It’s tempting, I know. I did it myself last year. I wanted to run a sub 2-hour half, run a 4.5 hr marathon, PR at an Oly, train for a 70.3, and a 140.6, all while setting up my private practice. I knew that was too much, so I re-assessed my goals and decided I couldn’t aim for endurance and speed at the same time. I decided to set a speed goal for an early season 10 -miler, then I switched to endurance training the rest of the season and I ended up having a fantastic year.
2. Set smart goals. You want to make sure you set both long-term and short-term goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound AND give you opportunities to celebrate small accomplishments.
For example, if you want to go from couch to marathon, you want to make sure you know how much time it takes to train, pick a race that gives you enough time to train, obtain a training plan that works for your skill level and schedule, and you definitely should sign-up for shorter races or plan to celebrate certain shorter mileage milestones.
3. Be realistic. I’m not saying don’t push your limits. If you know me, you know I’m all about pushing limits, but be realistic about it. Let’s go back to that marathon goal. Couch to marathon is no joke. Training will be hard. There will be days your training won’t go well. There will be days you won’t want to train. The key with being realistic is recognizing this and making sure you don’t beat yourself up when those days occur. One missed workout, one crappy workout, one unmotivated day is not the end.
Also be realistic about the goal. I would love to do a 5-hour 70.3 and maybe I will some day, but right now, I know how fast I am in all disciplines, and I know it’s unlikely I could achieve that goal this year. I’m going to push myself to a new PR, I’m going to challenge myself, but I’m also going to be realistic about it.
4. Create a plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish. If you’re going to set goals, you have to make plans to achieve those goals. Write your goals down and set yourself up for success by creating or obtaining a plan that starts where you are and builds you up step by step until you reach your goal. Again, don’t forget to celebrate each small accomplishment! Small successes are not only the key to long-term success, they’re also the key to keeping you motivated!
5. Track progress. Sure you’ll know you’re making progress when you go out and successfully complete a 5 mile run after never running more than a mile before starting your plan, but there will also be days when things don’t go so well or where your progress is slow. Tracking your progress will help you see how you’re doing and keep you motivated on those days. Tracking progress is also useful to identify when things aren’t going so well. Training plans don’t always work perfectly and if you’re tracking your data you can determine if you need to make changes to your plan.
So what are some of my goals for 2015?
I haven’t set many yet, but here are three of my goals for the next few months:
- Do a 70.3 in May (Monticelloman or Kinetic) in 6:45
- Complete my RRCA Coaching certification
- Run a 2:15hr half marathon
More goals, including an updated 2015 Race Calendar, coming soon and will continue to come throughout the year as my career, racing and life plans evolve.
What are some of your goals for 2015?