It’s the second week of January, 2015. Did you make any resolutions this year? If you did, how is it looking so far?
By now, 29% of people who made resolutions at the start of the year have already left the party…by the beginning of February, that number rises to 36%. Many of us make resolutions, and most of us will stop fulfilling them within a short time…only 8% of people admit to achieving, and sticking to, their resolutions. It is a good idea to set goals and resolutions though, as people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
So what makes it so hard to keep resolutions, especially when we probably had the best of intentions when we set them?
I believe there are four main reasons for this:
- Setting goals that are realistic
Goal setting is an art in itself. It’s one thing to have the idea, that kicks off the process of setting a goal in motion…the tricky part is creating the right set of circumstances to enable the process to start, and then have the best chance of success.
Within the women’s running camps that we hold each year, a key component is for each woman to leave with a clear goal, and a detailed action plan for how to achieve that goal. Our success rate is very high, and we have worked hard to make sure that our workshops give the best opportunity possible to our athletes.
You have probably heard of the acronym SMART goals – we added two more dimensions to that acronym, to make the end result even more powerful; we came up with SMARTER goals. Here is the run down:
- Specific – for any goal to be successful, it has to be specific, so getting fitter doesn’t cut it. Running my first half marathon does..
- Measurable – we need to be able to make sure we know when we have achieved our goal, so it has to me measurable. So running your first half marathon is a good example, as you know you’ve run 13.1 when you reach the finish line!
- Achievable – your goal needs to be something that is practical – of course you can aim for the sun and still hit a star!
- Relevant – your goal needs to be relevant to you – sometimes goals we set can be trying to please or satisfy someone else; this makes it hard to find a WHY?, when things get tougher…
- Time related – you need to set a deadline for your goal – so running my first half marathon at the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon on August 1, 2015, sets a clear date in the future.
- Evaluation – you need to have a process to evaluate where on the map to your goal you are. If you plan a route from A to B, then type in the details to MapQuest or Google Maps, you get a journey plan that also includes stop offs, or intermediate goals on the way. It really helps to have a similar process for your goal too. Plan mini goals that help check progress along the way. Then it may mean that you need to modify your original goal based on your progress to those mini goals. This can mean that a goal becomes moveable, rather than a fixed goal that then is given up on.
- Reward – there needs to be some reward mechanism within the goal. For some goals the reward is in the achievement itself, the intrinsic reward. It may also make sense to give yourself rewards linked to your mini goals on the way through the process. This doesn’t have to be a large expense, it can be something as simple as a meal out, or a trip to the movies, or even a half day off from work taking a walk in nature. The important factor is to make sure that you link the reward to the process, so that you know that something you will enjoy is coming at the end of a piece of time.
2. Have a support network
No one ever accomplished a major goal without some kind of support network. We can always achieve far more together than we can alone. Often we fail because we didn’t have all the support boxes ticked. We recommend at least three key people to make sure you have covered:
> someone who is an expert on the subject – so in running terms then it may make sense to have a coach, even if you only use them to check ideas with and monitor progress
> someone who will be honest with you, and can be objective about your progress
> someone who will love and support you no matter what occurs
3. Make a plan
Set everything down so you know you have a plan to follow. Just like our driving maps, don’t leave it at home and then set off towards your goal without knowing where you are going, and how to get there. Without a plan you may get to somewhere very different from the place you thought you wanted to be.
4. Think about what holds you back
There is a great quote, “We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.”
What this means is that we often make promises, and set goals, based on what we hope will happen. At the same time, our subconscious fears operate in the background, so that we often self-sabotage, so that our deep negative fears about us are satisfied. For many people this means consistently achieving less than they thought they could, and continuing a succession of failed goals.
One powerful and effective way to send a new message to your subconscious mind is to use affirmations. Affirmations are short phrases that plant positive seeds in your mind. Here are some examples:
“I am a strong runner;” “I am light and fast on my feet;” “I can achieve whatever I set out to do;” “I am powerful and fast;” “I am a powerful woman runner”
The important factor here is to make sure that you see these affirmations hundreds of times a day, and that they contain the polar opposite of what you feel. They will replace the repetitive negative statements about yourself that you have been making, and which, somewhere along the line, you have believed to be true.
So make notes, print them out, post or stick them up around your life – the bathroom mirror, the fridge or freezer door, the mirror in your car, or your dashboard, beside your screen at work, or on a stand on your desk at work…everywhere that is going to get your attention. Whenever you see these affirmations, read them out load to yourself several times, and truly connect with the meaning they convey. It may seem strange at first, you may even think, I don’t believe what I’m saying…remember to be conscious and to keep going with these messages, they can make a tremendous difference to your thinking, replacing the old weeds with blossoming flowering plants or trees!
Have fun with your resolutions, and we wish you every success for the New Year, and beyond!
Active at Altitude holds training camps for athletes of all abilities in Estes Park, CO, and in other locations with Vacation Races . Read more…