I know for some it is very stressful to have goals “hanging over them” and my current goal-free state would be freeing and their step 20 pounds lighter. However, for someone like me, goals give purpose. They are the light at the end of the tunnel and they are why I get up in the morning. If my husband had $5 for every time I’ve asked him, “What’s next on the agenda? I need to know what our next goal is.” he would be quite the wealthy man. For me the LACK of a goal is what’s stressing me out.
My goal for 2015 was so clear that now I feel like a boat without a rudder staring 2016 in the face. Last week was probably the peek AHHHHHHH moment. My inbox is inundated with emails from race directors beckoning me to register for their race(s). However, with a couple unknowns in my personal life, it’s making actually pulling the trigger and establishing goals for 2016 really difficult. I’m in this weird spot where I don’t want to set my goals too low and lose the challenge but at the same time don’t want to set them too high and feel like a failure when things out of my control keep me from achieving them. I’m sure there are some of you saying to yourself, “Well, Allison, you could always adjust the goals as life starts to figure itself out.” And my response, “If you’re just going to change them why set the goal in the first place!?”
My birthday was earlier this month and my buddy Susan gave me a really cool training journal titled Believe by Lauren Fleshman & Roisin McGettigan-Dumas. I have just started to go through it but have quickly found it calming my anxiety. It’s clearly organized and breaks down the goal setting and goal tracking in such a way that it forces you to think about not only what the goal is but WHY you want it. More to come on what I’m shooting for in 2016 as I work through the process but definitely consider adding this one to your Christmas list and maybe Santa will leave it under the tree for you. Check out Lauren’s blog post about the book’s creation and the partnership with Ro at Ask Lauren Fleshman.
Now I know this current goal crisis is my own craziness rearing it’s ugly head, but being that it’s almost New Year’s and the “wonderful” resolution time of year, I thought it would be fun to do a refresher of what makes a good goal – and hopefully you can avoid a similar state of crazy 🙂 If you remember from your fifth grade goal-setting introduction, a good goal is a SMART goal. Working through the goal setting process takes time. This isn’t something that can be hashed out in 10 minutes and then you get on with your day. Setting SMART goals increases your likelihood of success AND it allows you to track your progress along the way – a definite bonus to keep you focused when we’re talking about a result you may not see for another 9 months.
Specific – Make your goal(s) REALLY specific. Leave no ambiguity or uncertainty around what you’re shooting for. You want to know when you can actually celebrate your success, right?! When you think you’ve got your goal down on paper, ask yourself one more time, “Could I be MORE specific?”
Measurable – I work/live in a world where our mantra is, “If you can’t measure it, it didn’t happen.” and we are ALWAYS setting new targets. Without a very specific goal, it’s difficult to measure and without a measurable goal, it’s hard to be specific, so these first two are really important and go hand-in-hand.
Actionable – Goals should be something YOU can DO. There’s a lot in our lives that is out of our control so setting a goal where the outcome is more dependent on someone or something else kind of takes the fun out of the celebration at the end or leads to unwarranted negative thinking about yourself when it doesn’t happen. Focus on what YOU can control and build your goals around that.
Realistic – Goals should be a stretch, there’s no doubt about that, but make sure that you are setting yourself up for success. Do you have the support system and/or the tools around you to get you to the goal? Sometimes we need to push our goals out a little because those two things just aren’t happening right now. Don’t force it and adjust from the “big” goal to breaking it down to the steps needed to prepare you for the bigger objective and start there.
Time-bound – What’s the deadline? If you keep giving yourself an out and pushing off the target date, it’s easy for your brain to let you make excuses and miss your objective. If you want to hit that target race time by June, then that’s it. June is the target. Remember this is where measurable and specific come into play. When you have a longer-term objective it’s easy to get burned out, I know I started to during marathon training, and lose sight of the goal. You start questioning your progress and self-doubt creeps in. However, if you’ve been able to measure your progress along the way, you have something very tangible to look at and remind yourself of how far you’ve come and where you are going!
What are your goals for 2016 – running or otherwise? How do you keep track of them and monitor your progress? Do you enjoy goal setting or is it an added stress you avoid like the plague? Looking forward to hearing your approach!