It’s simply a fact that when people have goals to guide them, they are happier and achieve more than they would without having them. Goals provide focus and a measuring stick for progress. Goals enhance productivity, bolster self-esteem, and increase commitment. Here are some tried-and true ways you can begin to move toward achieving your goals, and maintain resolve when the going gets rough. Many of these guidelines apply to any goals, but I will add some goals specific to training.
- Put your goals in writing. The act of writing down what you are going to do is a strong motivator. It prevents you from leaving your goals vague. When writing goals be specific, make them measurable and specify completion dates. Also record what your reward will be for achieving the goal. This journey begins by creating and maintaining a training journal.
- Set Realistic but challenging Goals. Challenging goals lead to better performance and more commitment than easy goals, no goals, or trying to “do your best.”
- Identify sub goals. Break down your plan into manageable chunks. Set long and short-term goals. Write down at least three goals for the next 3-6 months and one long-term goal on the first page of your journal. Be specific about what you need to accomplish. Make sure each step is challenging but achievable and write it in your journal and review it regularly.
- Track your progress. All of your goals should be measurable. Write down minutes focused on cardio, on strength training, on stretching, and on core work. Use the scale or even better a tape measure to review body composition goals. Keep track of weekly totals. If goals include better overall health, what does that really mean? Less sick days, better sleep, better energy, increased mental focus, more joy in your life, more time for yourself. These are also measurable, you just need to record how your are feeling and what your actions were.
- Be honest with yourself. When you are discouraged, feeling stuck, or are not making progress look at your training schedule. Did you miss four scheduled training sessions in the last month? Was there a vacation or a family blow out celebration? Maybe you are not getting enough sleep or your diet has been poor.
- Visual and measurable. With weight or body composition goals, use pictures and tape measurements more than numbers on a scale to track weight and body composition goals. Measure every week.
- List the venefits of achieving your goal. When you write down your goals also indicate what the benefits are of accomplishing the goal. Why is the goal important to you? How will you benefit from reaching the goal or in the process of attaining the end result? Now think about the pros and cons of not accomplishing the goals. What barriers do you think may stand in your way? Are there steps you can do to limit those barriers?
- Daily Reminders. There is tremendous power in the simple act of putting your goals in writing and reviewing daily. Once your goals are written out place reminders, as brief as need be, in areas you will notice throughout the day. A post-it note on your computer, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or in your car will suffice. You need to be reminded of the goals frequently throughout the day.
- Enlist the help of others. Find someone, a family member, coworker, friend, or teammate with whom you share a common goal. Take your commitment public and tell others about your goals. If you have a blog include it there as well. Having a partner, or simply putting your goal “out there” can help you stay committed and motivated. Look for role models, people who have already achieved the goals you seek to reach. Ask them for advice and suggestions. Find out how they got where they are, and incorporate what you learn into your plan.
- Reward yourself each step of the way. No matter how small you think your progress is, let yourself feel good about all accomplishments. Thank yourself, recognize your accomplishment and commitment and never let an action go unrecognized. When you hit a goal, celebrate; recognize that you met the goal. Accomplishments should be celebrated and not ignored. For each sub goal you reach treat yourself to rewards that will give you a lift.
Recognising all your accomplishments is extremely important. I never take for granted my accomplishments. Here are my training goals for 2016.
Key Result Area: PHYSICAL SELF
Ultimate Vision Ultimate Purpose
Place 1-3 in my age group in Olympic distance by oct 1
Go to Olympic Distance Age Group Nationals August 2017
Sleep, swim, nutrition, keep body in balance/injury freeComplete about 6 races in 2016 : improve swim dramatically
Q1March –may: see below
Q2June-Aug: see below
March –may Q1:
Sleep 7 hrs minimum= bed by 10:30
Swim : improve by 8 sec/100 over course of season= need to swim more! 2x/week with a group; 1x week ocean, 1x week (optional) drills on own.
Nutrition: drop 5 pounds by april: alcohol 2x week. Fast 14 hrs daily and some fasted workouts. No food after 9pm. Cut sugar and bread for March.
Balance: 2x week weights for 90-120 min. Keep working on shoulder and ankle mobility before run and swim workout.
June- Aug- Q2
Review at end of may next steps based on results of races in spring.
Sept-Nov Q3 : Did you meet your race goal? How does that translate into your activity over next 6 mo. Assuming I meet my goal
Sleep: can be less regimented
Nutrition: have vacation plans for November= beach ready. May do a 30 day cleanse in October to feel good for vacation and stay sugar free over holidays (as much as possible)
Balance: less structure to workouts. Don’t want to burn out. Take 1 day each week off with out question. Replace 1 workout with something fun: not focused run, bike or swim; replace with kayak, paddleboard, hike etc.
Dec-Feb Q4: if I qualified for nationals how does that impact goals for Q4.? Still need to improve swim? Need to take a break and focus on a smaller task like a half marathon for spring? Nationals will be in August: plenty of time to make adjustments and modifications to goals. Need more work on the run? Need to lose a few pounds from holidays?