As one year comes to a close and the next one begins, many of us will take part in the tradition of making new year resolutions to be better in some way. Yet, we frequently find that our commitment to these resolutions dwindles as the sparkle of the new year fades.
What’s up with that?
The problem is that most new year resolutions are vague notions about the change we want to effect in our lives: “eat healthy,” “get in shape,” “be more consistent with training. So, this year, instead of making vague resolutions, set specific goals. Goal setting is the key to your success in the coming year, as it offers you something to work toward – and to mark your progress.
Maybe you want to run your first 5k–or your fastest marathon. Maybe you want to give triathlon a try – or go for a PR at your favorite distance. Whatever it is, goal setting allows you to create an action plan that will hold you accountable to meeting specific milestones along to the way.
Here are 5 tips for goal setting that will turn your resolutions into sustainable actions that will help you achieve your big dreams!
Some tips for setting goals:
Set aside some time in the next few weeks to reflect upon those goals you really want to achieve this year, next year, in the next five years. As you set your goals, identify what strengths you already possess and what weaknesses will need to be addressed and overcome in your pursuit of the prize.
2. Make goals realistic.
It’s good to have ambitious goals. But if those goals are too ambitious, you risk disappointment and frustration. If those goals are not realistic enough, you won’t have the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from pushing just past your comfort zone.
Finding the balance between under- and over-reaching can be tricky, which is why it’s so important to take time to reflect–back to tip #1! Be honest about your strengths and your weaknesses. Be honest about what is important to you.
At least part of being realistic is making sure you have the time to commit to achieve your training goals. Time is based on overall time to reach the goal, as well as the daily and weekly training time commitment.
Let’s say you want to tackle your first Ironman triathlon, and race day is a year away. Is a year enough time to reach this goal? If you have a base level of fitness, the answer is yes.
Additionally, you need to ask if you have enough time each week to commit to the training for this goal. If you only have a maximum of 10 hours a week to train, now may not be the best time to commit to the iron distance. But, on 10 hours a week, you could put together a much more workable and successful training plan for the half-iron distance.
The running and triathlon season is still several months away, so now is the best time to think about what you want to accomplish this spring, summer and fall.
4. Make goals specific and measurable.
Running your “fastest marathon time” is a good goal. Giving yourself a specific time to shoot for is an even better one. A specific goal allows you to measure progress and to hold yourself accountable to your training plan.
It is also a good idea to break up a major goal into sub-goals that you will achieve along the way. As you meet these mini-goals, you can more accurately gauge your overall progress toward the big goal.
Additionally, these specific and measurable goals will drive your daily training decision making. If you aren’t sure how a day’s training fits in with your larger goals, then that training session needs to be reworked.
5. Celebrate the milestones along the way.
Every major goal – such as running your first marathon – has milestones that you must pass along the way to ensure you are on track. Identify the sub-goals you must meet along the way – and reward yourself accordingly for achieving them. If a goal may take several months (or years!) to achieve, then recognizing these significant milestones is important to help maintain focus and motivation.
As this new year begins, we hope these tips help you reach for and achieve your most significant goals yet. Goals – and the achievement of goals – gives purpose to daily activities and brings satisfaction to life. With focus, commitment and hard work, there are no limits to the goals you can reach!