Forget January as a time for resolutions, THIS is the time of year for setting a few goals and looking ahead with enthusiasm and motivation. Spring time…a time of growth, regeneration and beauty in the natural world. It never fails to amaze me that this happens every single year. The nights creep gradually lighter as the buds and flowers start to appear and the sun makes an occasional, welcome appearance. January, with its short, damp, grey days (I’m not a fan) is a time for eating cake, keeping warm, being kind to ourselves and continuing with our regular exercise. No big changes, just lots of movies.
Please don’t choose January in the UK to start any training regime that involves the outdoors…the mud, ice, rain and cold are enough to put off even the most hardened of fitness fanatics. You may be 100% disciplined and January may be just like any other month and I applaud you, but I’m not going to add any extra pressure from a New Year’s resolution to my least favourite time of the year.
NOW though, now I can’t stop planning, thinking ahead and setting goals for the year. All of a sudden, they feel more achievable, more realistic and infinitely more appealing now that there is the prospect of some dry land on which to run and cycle. Remember, you can make a resolution at any time of the year. If you missed the boat in January, it doesn’t mean the year has to be free of intention. And those intentions don’t have to be big or sporting or impressive, they simply have to be designed to make us feel better in mind and body.
Here are my tried and tested ways to go about achieving a goal:
- Talk to your most positive friends and family members about your ideas. If you only have a seed of a thought of what you want to do, do not mention it to anyone with any negative vibes. At this stage you only need reassurance that your goal can be met. A “fantastic, that’s a brilliant idea!” will boost your confidence and not “really? Are you sure you can do that?” which will only add to any self-doubt.
- Put plans in place to make sure that your goals are both achievable and realistic. It’s not possible to set a target and then hope for the best. We need mini-goals along the way. Write down and complete day to day tasks that will take you a little closer to your goals so that you are always moving forward.
- Challenging but not impossible. Consider your ideas and thoughts and choose goals which will give you sense of satisfaction and achievement, rather than becoming an additional stress. Your everyday life still has to happen and extra time doesn’t appear from nowhere so to include working towards goal, you’ll have to be prepared to change your timetable.
- Give yourself a deadline. It’s all too easy to start tomorrow. Those tomorrows will run out if you have a deadline to meet, so start now. Write things down, look at your diary and set a date for a specific goal. ‘Get fit this year’ doesn’t cut it. More like ‘Complete a 5km Park Run on 22nd April’.
- Find support from others. We all have hopes and dreams, big and small so while you’re going about working towards your own resolutions, look out for other people doing the same. Smile at fellow runners, chat to the person next to you in the gym. Better still, find someone who shares your goal and work towards it together.
I used all these in the pursuit of running my 10th marathon after a 9 year break from long distance running and the addition of a young family.
We did it! The Florence Marathon 2017, the day after I turned 40 with my husband Pete.
Goals don’t have to be anywhere near as big as running a marathon but I think it’s important to have them, however small. They give us time to be ourselves, to think about ourselves and to be part of something bigger than the day to day.