Steps to Success in Running (and Life) in 2016
There is so much stuff out there about goal setting right now. A lot of it is the same, just with different words. Acronyms and lists of “must have ” traits to success are all the rage right now.
But what is it that will really make a difference to how you approach the next year? Will you feel a sense of accomplishment as you review your list of objectives this time next year? Or, will you feel embarrassed by how little progress you made?
Yesterday, I sat down to review my goals from the past year. I really set some audacious ones, and sadly, fell short on most. Initially, I felt disappointing, like I let myself down. Upon further reflection, I noticed that while I didn’t quite achieve what I hoped, I made significant progress on most of them.
The lesson here is that you need to set really big goals, and if you don’t quite hit them, at least you’ve grown.
Setting Audacious Goals
I have heard it said that if your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. “Finishing a marathon” is wonderful, but “finishing a marathon in under XX hours” is even better. What’s the point of setting goals you’re sure you can accomplish? In 2015, my big audacious goal was to run a sub three hour marathon. I missed it by 11 minutes, but had some significant milestones along the way that reassured me I’m on the right track.
Setting big, scary, audacious goals will motivate you if done right. I’m not talking about a totally impossible goal. It still needs to be realistically within your abilities. Goals should stretch you to reach beyond what you though you were capable of.
Below is a reminder of the five steps you can use to set your year up for success. Don’t limit this to just the things you want to achieve running. You can use it with your family, career, community, finances, etc.
Step 1. Reflect
As I mentioned recently, looking back is the first step to moving forward. Take a few moments to answer these questions:
- Did you meet your previous goals?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What are areas in which you grew?
- What areas did you feel a lack of growth?
When I look back through my training log, I ran a lot of miles, but not the most I’ve ever run. I also struggled with injury. I’ve been recovering well, and have a few quick races under my belt. I know 2016 is going to bring with it, massive change for our family, so figuring out what worked well, won’t necessarily be easily repeatable.
Step 2. Dream Huge
You can be a lot more of who you already are if you’re willing to put in the hard work now. In step two, think about your highly aspirational goals. These might be big life goals or bucket list types of things.
The only rule during this step is that you need to be realistic. You are probably not going to qualify for the Olympics, or double your income this year. BUT, you can certainly set your sights on a significant PR, or getting a raise at work. The point here is not to limit yourself by what is, but rather, dream about what could be.
These big dreams will probably be a little vague and ambiguous. Try to make them connect back to something larger you want for your life.
Making a long list will help you see patterns, and identify what you value most. Mine are a bit too personal to share here, but I will say that running a sub-three hour marathon is still on the list!
Step 3. Set SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals is both incredibly helpful and incredibly corny. I find myself rolling my eyes whenever I hear someone talk about this method of goals setting. That said, SMART goals work! – at least they have for me.
SMART goals are:
- Specific: State exactly what you want to do, with as much detail as necessary.
- Measurable: They must quantify (numerically or descriptively) completion.
- Action-Oriented: Behaviors that move you toward your accomplishment.
- Realistic: As noted previously, they must force you to reach beyond what you are naturally comfortable with, in every area of life.
- Time Bound: Connect it with a very specific date and time for completion.
Identify 5 to 7 of the most common themes that emerged from step 2, and write one SMART goal for each. You can do more, but it’s better to focus on less and go all in (I’m sticking with 5).
Step 4. Plan It
Your plan needs to take into account all areas of your life. We don’t have the luxury of separating each area of our life into neat little boxes. It’s all connected. If you set a SMART goal to finish your first marathon on October 9 at the Twin Cities Marathon, you need a plan to make that happen beyond just how many miles to run on what days.
You’ll need a plan to deal with how your training will impact your relationships, your nutrition, sleep and of course, how it may impact your job. If you’re up for big promotion this year, it might not be the time to tackle such a big goal.
This can often feel overwhelming – thinking about all the things that touch one of your goals. To mitigate that, simply decide what the next thing is you need to do, and do that. Worry about the rest later.
Step 5. Review, Review, Review, Review
Our company does a quarterly review to mark the progress we’ve made towards our yearly goals. It is a nice time frame as it allows changes to be made if necessary, but also enough time to pass for real progress to be made. Too often, I have failed to review my goals at all, let alone as such specific intervals.
Depending on your goal, you may decide to review daily, weekly, monthly or more. The key is to review them often. There’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity to make adjustments. Or you may surprise yourself and accomplish a goal early and need to set a new one.
It is easy to evaluate your running goals. Are you consistent with your running? Are your workout times consistent with your PR goal?
Other areas of life are less straightforward.
For example, this past year I had a personal goal to get more involved in my community. I reached out to several neighbors, and attended some neighborhood meetings, but nothing much beyond that really happened. Several months later, I took on a big leadership role, and can now cross this off my list. My point in sharing this is that sometimes, there aren’t neat metrics you can use to gauge process. You kind of just have to go with your gut.
What Are Your Audacious Goals for 2016?
What are some of your big audacious goals in 2016? What is next step you need to take to achieve it? Share them in the comments below. Also, if you’d like help setting your goals this year, feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear what you’re dreaming about.
If you’d like to download a copy of the worksheet, grab it here!