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Goal Setting

Every New Years, the same thing happens to everybody; you decide to get healthy, lose 20 pounds or go to the gym twice a day. By January 31st, you’ve forgotten what your goal even was, let alone made any real progress towards actually achieving it. Why is it that we so frequently fail to achieve these kinds of goals? Half the time it’s because we’ve never been taught how to properly set a goal, so right out of the gate, we’re set up for failure. When coaching cross country, I learned a fair amount about setting goals; I learned what makes a goal achievable and how to get there, and hopefully my experiences can help you achieve your goals.

First, make your goal measurable. Don’t just set the goal to be healthy; what is healthy? How will you know if you’ve achieved it? Make clearly defined goals such as losing 15 pounds or being able to complete a 5k race. You need to have a clear finish line so you can mark your progress and know when you’re getting close.  Second, give yourself a time frame. It’s too easy to put off your goals if you don’t have any time frame. Trying to lose 20 pounds? If you don’t tell yourself that you have 4 months to do it, you’ll keep putting it off until 2 years have passed. Third, be realistic. You know yourself pretty well by now, so don’t set a goal that’s clearly impossible. If you’ve never run a day in your life, completing an ironman this year probably isn’t going to happen. If you set unrealistic goals, you’re just going to be frustrated when you are unable to achieve them.

Finally, the most important thing about setting a goal is to write it down! Research has actually shown that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. So, write down your goal and put it in a place where you see it every day. This strategy worked wonders for me a few years ago when I was training for a race. I set a goal to run a 5k in 19:55 and to keep myself on track I told my entire cross country team and then wrote my goal time on an index card by my computer at work. Every day when I left work to go run, I saw that 19:55 and knew that my team would be asking about my race. It definitely motivated me to train on those days I didn’t feel like it.

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Just set measurable, realistic goals and write them down! Anyone brave enough to share their goals here?

-Sara

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