SMART GOALS and Resolutions for a new year

I don’t want to be the type of person who scoffs at the idea of New Year Resolutions. When people look down on the idea, it makes me feel like they are either a.) woefully blind to the things they need to improve upon or b.) painfully aware of their own inability to change.

I like the idea of making changes. My problem is that I tend to go big and fast much to quickly and burn out on goals. Instead of setting one goal, I set five. Rather than making the plan to do something once a week I want to do it every day – until I don’t and then I really don’t. You can see this based on my rate of posting on this blog. When I started I was posting three times a week – a reckless rate for someone who works full time, has an additional part time job, a relationship and friends and on top of all that is trying to run long distances (an activity that, by design, takes up copious amounts of time). After a few weeks of my three-a-week rate, I started slipping and trying to post catch-up posts. Then, I dropped the Wednesday links post and tried to shift focus to Mondays and Fridays. Guilt started to set in when I couldn’t get my posts in on time – an obviously ridiculous thing now that I read it. This is a project that…

a. I started for fun and as a good excuse to write

b. Was for the main purpose of helping me focus my running and get better as a runner

and c. Is read by so few people that feeling guilty for missing a post is a wildly narcissistic and completely self-imposed thing.

 

But, I’m being harsh on myself. The important thing is that the guilt made me feel less motivated to write so I started taking long lapses from my writing. I got into that “all-or-nothing” thinking – if I can’t get a post written by Friday then I might as well not write at all this week. By that logic, unfortunately, I started going weeks without posting or writing at all.

I want to be better about that.

There are a lot of things I want to be better about this year…

But first – I want to lay out some criteria for a good resolution. The reason (at least, one of the reasons) people dislike resolutions is that they are quickly abandoned. Compare any gym in early January to any gym late February and you’ll see forgotten dreams in action. Usually, these goals fail because they aren’t properly set. There is an easy outline for making a good goal. The acronym (because it psychology everything needs to spell a word) is SMART.

S – Specific: We need to know what, specifically, we are going to do. Think of it this way – if you write down your goal on a piece of paper and someone else finds it and reads it, will they know exactly what you are doing? If not, you need to be more specific. Writing down “I want to be more healthy” is a noble goal but that could mean so many different things. Do you want to eat better? Do you want to be more active? Do you want to quit smoking or drinking? Be specific.

M – Measurable: The person who says, “I want to be more healthy” is not going to do anything different. The person that says, “I want to eat more healthy meals” may change their habits but, still, is unlikely to do anything different. The person that says, “I will eat three vegetables per day” is the person that is on their way to making changes. We need specific, concrete targets. We need to know how close we are getting to where we want to go. Saying “more healthy” is vague. Being vague makes it easy to either convince ourselves that things are better or to forget about the whole thing because it has no meaning. We need frequencies, duration, numbers, hard math to track our goals by.

A – Agrees with your values: Your goal should agree with your other valued areas of your life. If you set the goal to run 3 hours each day – that’s fantastic and you will likely become a better runner if you stick to it. However, how will that impact your relationships at home or at work? Will you damage one value to improve another? At worst, any goal you set should not impact any part of your life. At best, a well planned smart goal will improve multiple valued areas. Setting a goal of running with a run group twice a week may satisfy your health value and also your need to be social, your value of novelty, etc. Choosing to try one new, healthy recipe a week will help your weight and health but it would also improve your relationship if you choose to cook that recipe with a loved one.

R – Realistic: Whatever goal we set should be difficult enough that we have to work at it but not so difficult that we are likely to fail. If the goal is too easy, we are very unlikely to do it. Our brains often confuse effort and value. If we work hard it must mean it is important. If it comes naturally it must mean it is valueless. Set goals that you have to work at. On the flip side, if the goal is so hard we are likely to fail then the goal ultimately will feel punishing. We need little successes along the way to keep us motivated.

T – Time sensitive: We need deadlines. It is just a consequence of human nature. If I give someone 10 minutes to do something, they will take 10 minutes. If I give that same person 30 minutes to do it, they’ll take 30 and likely do just as good of a job. We need to set deadlines. When do we want to be done? When will be check in on our progress?

Okay – now that we have that out of the way, some goals for 2019…

Six things I will do (ordered based on frequency)…

  1. On evenings I am at home, turn off my cell phone at least 2 hours before bed (daily/semi-daily) – This has two purposes. First, this will help with my sleep hygiene by reducing screen time. Second, this will force me to do more beneficial activities like – preparing meals for the next day, reading, playing music, writing, etc.
  2. Complete my training runs and update my training journal  to include – run data, macronutrients, fitness specific notes (weekly) – I started getting more diligent with training-with-purpose late into last year and saw my running dramatically improve. I want to keep moving forward with this.
  3. Write something creative three times a week (weekly) – I feel better when I write and I feel worse when I don’t. Let’s do things that make use feel better.
  4. Call my last remaining grandparent at least monthly (monthly) – I feel like this is an adult decision to make.
  5. Update my blog at least twice a month (monthly) – Same as goal 3 AND goal 2. My running is better when I am also pushing myself to write about it and monitor it.
  6. I want to run for the cycle – a term I just now coined. I will run an official race as the following distances: 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathon and full marathon.

Three things I will do less of…

  1. Limit alcohol to twice a week – This includes any alcohol. Once I started tracking using my bullet journal I realized how frequently I have a beer here and a glass of wine there. While the occasional solo drink is perfectly fine, it’s too easy to slip into multiples. Also, in the new year I want to manage my nutrition better and these drinks offer very little.
  2. Reduce time on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter) to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon – Social media is the alcohol of technology. There is nothing wrong with the occasional check-in but it is very easy to slip into chronic use and social media offers very little in the way of emotional-nutritional value.
  3. Limit “non-essential” money spending to three times per week – Cash rules everything around me and the more cash I have the better off I am and the more secure I feel. Time to start saving.

 

I will check in at the end of January and see how well I am sticking with my goals!

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