New Year’s Resolutions & Goals
We’re getting toward the time of year where people start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Normally like oaths taken in haste, these often spring from the hangover on the first of January, perhaps with a certain degree of
OMG . . . NEVER again. This year, I’m turning over a new leaf, and I’ll . . . . .
The problem is that most New Year’s resolutions don’t last beyond the third week of January. You can see this at the gym - try getting into a class in January, and compare this with November! So people don’t tend to stick to New Year’s resolutions, and because of this, often feel that they’ve let themselves / others down, resulting in decreased self esteem, and lower motivation.
Makes you wonder why people make resolutions at all, doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing - if you think about your resolutions properly, and translate them into Goals, with a set of plans that’ll help you achieve them, you can really achieve things that would otherwise have seemed just plain impossible. Goals are not just vague wishes - they’re concrete, tangible things you set out to achieve.
Traditionally goals should be ‘S.M.A.R.T.’:
- Specific, so that you can articulate them clearly, and turn them into a vision of the future that you can play inside your head when your motivation dips. By this standard, “Get fit”, or “lose weight” AREN’T goals, as you haven’t defined them in specific terms.
- Measurable, so that you can track your progress toward them, or know for certain that you’ve achieved them. So you could re-phrase “lose weight” as “Get down to XXX lbs”
- Achievable, so don’t set yourself up for failure on Day One. That doesn’t mean you should aim low though - there’s been considerable research that shows that setting easily achievable goals actually reduces performance. So you need a goal that you can achieve, but only with a lot of work (and sometimes a degree of luck)
- Realistic, bearing in mind your other commitments. So I theoretically could cycle 6,000 miles in a year. But as I don’t have a regular commuting route that’d put 120 miles a week in the bag, I’d have to do a lot of cycling in time that I could otherwise spend with Wife & Daughter. Realistically I’m not willing to compromise that time.
- Time-framed, so that you have a deadline to work to.
One of the best example of a SMART goal is JFK’s:
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.
The best goals are those that you can track your progress toward. Zappoman had a goal in 2006 of cycling 5,000 miles, and made it . . . just. This is a great example of a goal that was achievable, but only with some hard work to ‘push it over the line’ in the depths of winter. And this inspired me to cycle 3,000 miles this year.
One of the major factors that helped me achieve this was that I broke the goal down into manageable chunks - as they say, the easiest way to eat an elephant is one slice at a time! So rather than setting out to ride 3,000 miles, I just had to do 125 miles every two weeks.
The more specific the goal, the more it’ll motivate you to achieve it. So don’t stint on building a mental image of how it’ll be when you get there. If you’re setting out to lose weight, spend some time working up a Photoshop image of yourself, standing on the scales, showing your target weight, a more slender waist, snazzy clothes, etc, etc. Or if you’re setting out to run a half marathon, a photo of you pasted onto a picture of last year’s race’s finish line.
On the subject of losing weight . . . I have a real problem with how most people approach this one. IMHO, it’s better to not have this as a goal in itself, as progress can often be a little patchy (which is seriously discouraging), and unless it’s accompanied by a change in lifestyle, will only really yield short-term results. This is why diets just don’t work.
I think it’s better to set yourself a series of fitness goals. Things like . . .
- Walk 14 miles a week for the whole of January
- Run/Walk on a building training programme for February and March
- Complete a 5k race in April
- Run a 10k race in June
- Run a half marathon in September
If you do these things, and your food intake remains constant (or even slightly reduced), then you WILL lose weight, without feeling like you’re denying yourself the pleasures that you’ve spent a lifetime enjoying.
- Type: Run
- Date: 12/24/2007
- Time: 00:53:05
- Total Time: 1:00:00.00
- Distance: 6 miles
- Average Pace: 10:00/mile