Setting Goals

The talk at my run clinic last night was about Goal Setting. It’s one of my favourite topics because your goals determine your success.

1) Realistic – want to run a marathon? That’s awesome, but it’s not going to happen in 10 weeks if you’re only running 5k right now. Be optimistic in what you believe you can achieve, but be realistic about the amount of time it’s going to take you to achieve it.

2) Achievable – Kind of the same as realistic, but not completely. For an example, it is probably possible for me to one day, with a lot of speed training and dedication, qualify for Boston. It is not achievable for me to make it to the Olympics.

3) Specific – “Be more active.” “Lose weight.” You’re probably not going to achieve this kind of goal because you’re not setting up any concrete guidelines. In what ways do you want to be more active? Biking with your kids? Walking the dog two extra days a week? Spend 30 minutes outside each day (that does not include deck and drinking time)? Define it and then own it.

4) Healthy – So many people focus their goals on weight (10 pounds! Size whatever!). Losing weight and starting to feel healthier and more confident is awesome. It’s important to be healthy and to be aware of what your body wants and needs. But the number on the scale does not determine your worth. For that matter, neither does the number on the clock at the race. Set achievement based goals: Run 10k. Eliminate fast food. Say only positive things to yourself. Buying a new, smaller size of pants gives you a temporary high. Pushing yourself mentally and physically changes the way you look at yourself.

It’s also important to make long term and short term goals. Obviously, for my run clinic, their short term goal is a 10k race. That may not be your thing, but think about what you’d like to achieve this summer. What can you do in the next ten weeks? What do you want as an end result? Want to feel better about yourself or less dragged down? Think about what changes you really want to make, and then figure out how to do that.

Personally, I always have a zillion long term goals. I want to run a marathon in October 2012 (I know), I want to break 54 minutes in a 10k, I want to be able to do five pull ups unassisted (this is a particularly long term goal as I can’t even do one), I want to open up my own branch of a non-profit organization that teaches young girls about positive self talk and healthy living. None of these things are going to happen in the next 12 months (well, except maybe the 10k and pull-ups) and that’s ok. They’re kind of evolving and morph occasionally into other things, and that’s ok too.

That brings me to another point: Revisit your long term goals every few months. Things change and priorities shift, it’s ok to change goals.

Another point I’m going to make is about writing your goals down. This is something I picked up very recently. We have a white board in our office and Steve wrote: “Run along the Great Wall of China when I am 35.” I wrote “Open a chapter of Girls on the Run in 2012.” Many people swear by writing things down, so we’ll see how this plays out. I’m of the school of thought that if you want something bad enough, you don’t need it written in front of you to achieve it.

Want to share your goals? I’d love to hear them.

One Comment on “Setting Goals

  1. I love the idea of writing things down – especially goals. Perhaps it holds us more accountable? I wish I had some goals to share with you – right now I am just sort of coasting…

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