Too often we have too vague of goals. “I want to get fit this year,” or “I’m going to run more,” are the types of goals I often hear that are sure to fail because they are not specific enough.
If, on the other hand, you say, “I’m going to walk/run for at least 30 minutes four times a week” that is a goal you might actually meet. Or “I’m going to not eat or drink sugar on weekdays from now through June.”
What makes a good goal? First off, it has to be specific. Second, it has to be realistic. And third, at least in my book, it has to be achievable but still challenging.
It’s probably not realistic to say, “I’m going to lose 100 pounds this summer,” but it is also not necessarily helpful to go to the other side and merely shoot for, say, five pounds over the course of the whole summer. Pick something that you will actually have to work for, but with a good plan can be achieved.
And fourth, tell someone. Have a partner or some form of accountability so that on that day when you really don’t feel like meeting the goal, you are willing to give it the extra push because you know your partner is going to ask.
So to give a real life example, here’s a goal I’ve set for this summer: completing an eight-miler Spartan Race.
Let’s see if it meets the good goal requirements I’ve just set up.
First, it is very specific. There is a specific day, time, and place that the goal is to be achieved (end of August in Leesburg), which allows about 16 weeks to prepare and train for it. This race will have unknown obstacles throughout the eight miles, so that means I have to train in a host of ways to be prepared for anything (not just running).
Second, is it realistic? If the race was to be held end of May, the answer would be no. But since I have 16 weeks to train, I would say, yes, it is realistic.
Third, achievable but challenging? Again, a very big yes. The longest race I’ve ever done is a 5K, so the Spartan 5K would have made more sense to try than an eight-miler. But I also know that I could probably do that with just a few weeks of specific prep, so it would not be a challenge that I actually need to train towards. The eight-miler is in the realm of frightening-but-not-stupid-crazy. It will take a lot of dedicated work over the summer, but I also know that with dedicated work it can be a fun experience.
Lastly, I can only hope to do this with a partner. So it is going to be a family affair with my husband running, climbing, crawling, and dodging alongside me (to be fair, it was his idea to begin with). The final big accountability will, of course, come when we actually pay the registration fee. Then there is no going back.
So determine a goal for yourself for this summer, share it, and figure out how you can start achieving!