goal-setting

Look, I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Sure it’s a convenient day to start something new and starting something new is awesome, but if you really wanted it – wouldn’t you have done it by now? When I quit smoking nearly two years ago, I did it on the 29th December. Because waiting until the 1st of January was just three days that I didn’t need to be smoking. Besides which the vast majority of resolutions tend to be a bit wishy-washy at best. Eat Better. Exercise More. Get Fit. What does that even mean? How can you tell if you are kicking ass at that goal or failing it? How much better, how fit? And when you don’t have a clear idea of what you are doing, it is really easy for things to fall by the wayside.

1) It’s not specific and it’s not measurable.

Even if you have a really big goal, you can break that down into smaller goals that are achievable and plot a clear course to get yourself there, with everything being measurable along the way. Want to start a new exercise habit? Making your goal to commit to three 30 minute sessions per week is going to serve you so much better than ‘exercise more’. Want to get fit? Well defining things you want to achieve – whether it be running 30 minutes without stopping, squatting your body weight or being able to do a push up on your toes are all goals that you can break down into a process that you can achieve. For some tips on goal setting, here’s something I wrote on 8 ways to kick some goal ass.

2) You didn’t write it down.

And I don’t mean on the computer. I mean with pen and paper and write it down. And not just your goals and your steps to those goals, write down your why as well. Because when it’s cold or humid as hell or you are tired or you just don’t feel like it, your why will get you out of bed and your goals will get you out of bed and that buzz that you get from ticking off one of your mini-goals or one of your big goals will get you out of bed. And if you do have a period where you fall off the wagon, what you’ve written down will get you back on track.

3) You have fallen down the punishment/reward rabbit hole.

This is evident in so many New Years promotions I see running about the place – either you keep your resolution or you have to pay up in cold hard cash (seriously it’s a thing!), it’s all about will power and commitment and discipline and mind over matter. But the problem with that is it doesn’t sound very fun. And eventually, it will start to feel like punishment and so you just won’t do it. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be joyful. Whatever you are trying to achieve with your goals or resolutions are supposed to feel like a reward. Now not every single moment of it will feel fun. Sometimes the fun part is when you finish and you have surprised yourself with what you’ve achieved. Sometimes it takes you 8km into a 12km run to get to the fun part. Sometimes the fun is just getting to be on your own in the wee hours of the morning. And sometimes it’s the little things that you know, but no one else would notice – like when you start to use the recommended weight in Crossfit workouts and you don’t have to scale as much.

4) You are ambivalent

This happened to me so many times with quitting smoking. I felt like I should quit and there where enough negative things associated with smoking that I felt like I wanted to quit. But deep down, I just didn’t want to. So I would use any reasonable excuse to relapse. I can’t quit. This situation at work is stressful. I’m sad. It’s just too hard. But what made it hard was not the act of quitting smoking, it was my ambivalence about it. And I remember once my dad saying to me, “It’s not that hard, you just stop.” which on the surface for anyone who has quit smoking and has felt like climbing out of their own skin feels dismissive. But that part is really short lived and the really hard part about quitting is that mental back and forth between the part of you that wants to quit and the part of you that wants to start. And once you are certain within yourself, that part stops and it is easy.

And I see this a lot when you are introducing new habits as well. Often times the success of a learn to run program hinges on someone really wanting it and being able to leave their doubts behind. I had all the reasons not to run: I’m so unfit. I will get beetroot red. People will look at me. I will look funny. I’m completely unathletic. And if you want it, you will ignore that. And if you don’t want it, you will listen to that. Which is also where our program comes in because we have a whole heap of voices to tip the scale in our favour.

5) You are all or nothing. 

All or nothing is the easiest way to get you nowhere. Instead of thinking about your ideal scenario where you would do all the things, all the time, just work with what you’ve got. There is no this week or this month or this year. There is just today. And today you can choose to do some things that will support your goals. This week my little one had a gastro bug, I had a gastro bug, I had very important school award ceremonies to attend to and to top it all off I guess I’m just a bit run down and in need of a break as we get towards the end of the year. I didn’t get to half of my usual sessions, but I did the best with what I had and took it as a great week to rest up and take it easy so I will be all ready to go next week.

So, let’s rock this anyway.

So now you know what not to do and what to do when you are setting some goals. If you’d like some help you can sign up for Learn to Run or the Total Fitness Challenge in January. Or, I have about five spaces left in Far and Fast coaching. But the main things I want you to remember are this:

1) Get Specific
2) Write it Down
3) Focus on Progress
4) Pay attention to what you love about it
5) Get the support you need.

And remember, that you can love your body while still working on it. If you think about your body as the enemy it is an uneasy partnership for fitness. You have no idea what your body is capable of, but I do and that is what I absolutely adore about Operation Move.

Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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  1. Hmmmm - lots for me to think about in this post. Thank you Zoey for getting me thinking.