Tip 5: Be realistic but still a dreamer.
Last week I talked about getting uncomfortable and learning to love it. So this week, I want to touch on that but also take it further and discuss how to follow through with what you say you’re going to do. In my profession, I have been fortunate to have had a ton of practice setting goals and figuring out how to accomplish them. In order to have a good working plan, your goals need to be/have three things: measurability, attainability, and ownership. Let’s break this down a bit.
It is essential that goals be concrete enough that the goal setter can actually figure out a map to get there. Losing weight, for example, is not concrete or measurable; however, losing 5 pounds by Feb. 1 is concrete and measurable. Measurability is important because it allows the goal setter to see and understand their progress, and understand their challenges. Another way to ensure your goal is measurable is to have an endpoint. Set a date. If your goal is to run a marathon in 2015, find a marathon and sign up for it, but don’t stop there. It would be helpful to have a running goal every month, or even every week, leading up to your big finish. Races can get expensive, so enlist some friends. Make a goal that by the end of January you will walk a 5k, and find a friend to do it with you and set a date. Date setting it critical. It’s not about the end result, but the little successes along the way that get you there. Those successes are going to be paramount to achieving what you want. Along the way, you will build physical and mental stamina, endurance, and confidence.
Attainability is where being realistic comes into play. You want to make sure your goals are doable for you. You may have a goal of running an ultra-marathon for example, but perhaps you don’t run at all right now. Therefore, setting that a goal for this year MAY be too much for you. Instead, setting a more realistic goal is more beneficial, as it is more likely you will not feel overwhelmed and give up entirely. So, for each goal you make this year, really look at the map that you will have to use to get there. If you don’t feel like it’s realistic, maybe tone it down a bit. Remember: it is more important to actually accomplish smaller goals than to have really large goals and give up because of the lack of feasibility. I recommend writing down all your goals and then drawing your map of how you will get there. If you can’t come up with a realistic plan, then consider toning down your goal a bit.
Ownership is key to this whole practice. What I mean by ownership is your personal buy in to your goals or resolutions. If, for example, you think you should finish your undergraduate degree, but don’t really want to, first sit down and really think about why you want to finish it at all. If it is more because other people want you to do it, then you may want to further explore what you want. Bottom line is this: you will be much more motivated, encouraged, and determined reaching goals that are YOURS and not anyone else’s.
Ultra-Space Unicorns: Ragnar Chicago. 200 miles and 6 ladies.
Tip 6: Don’t let good reasons keep you down
Without question, there are two words that I have worked really hard to get out of my vocabulary: laziness and excuses. Let’s start with the first word. We use the word lazy or laziness to describe someone, even ourselves, when the person doesn’t feel like doing anything. So the reason I don’t like that word is because it’s not solution-focused and very rarely is a person not doing what they said they were going to do because they are lazy. More often than not, what is really going on is a lack of motivation. Therefore, if you’re thinking about yourself and thinking, “Gosh, why do I feel so lazy?” or “Why am I so lazy?”, you might start asking yourself instead, “What is going on in my life that I feel so unmotivated?” or “What can I change in my life to get me motivated?” Motivation is a solution-focused word without all of the negative connotation that the word laziness holds.
The second word that I don’t really like is excuse(s). The reason I don’t like this word is because it also is not solution-focused, meaning if someone says, “you’re full of excuses,” it doesn’t provide any validation to the challenges that you may be having—especially when you may have some very good reasons why you’re not doing what you committed to do. For example, if you’re not working out because you’re working full-time, you have kids, physical limitations, and a strict budget, those are not excuses; those are real life challenges. Or, if you’re not eating clean because you have limited income, you don’t know how to cook, and you really don’t have a taste for clean, healthy foods, those aren’t excuses; those are real life challenges. What I love about actually acknowledging that often times there are good reasons that changes are not being made, is that it doesn’t discount daily limitations and obstacles that a person may face. HOWEVER, that’s where the second part comes in—don’t let good reasons keep you down, or keep you from doing what you said you were going to do.
Even though you may have really good and solid reasons that you aren’t working out or eating healthier, figuring out a plan around your challenges is key. It is important to acknowledge the fact that it is hard, and it is a lot more feasible for some than others, but, even with that, you still have to be creative and you still have to figure out a way to reach your goals.
When you sit down and write down all of you goals for the upcoming year, I would also encourage you to do a column of challenges and then a column of solutions. Under challenges you may have: kids (funny and true), and that’s where brainstorming the solutions come into play. You may write down: switching kids with my neighbor every other morning to workout or taking my kids with me in the morning and starting a family run around the block. With the solutions column, it’s important to get creative and think outside of the box. Even think about doing this with your family, partner, or friends, if available, because there’s more brainpower with more people.
So, take some time before the end of the year to really get honest and think about your challenges and get creative about your solutions. Once you can formulate your goals, and check them on measurability and attainability, and then problem-solve how to reach your goals, even with the challenges, you will be on your way to the most committed year of your life!
Finish line of the Mississippi 50 trail run. First ultra was a success…11 hours later.