Resolutions Vs. Goals

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It is a cold one here in Michigan…and by one, I mean the last 2 days. Temps have been in the double digit negative numbers and the “Feels like…” number has been considerably lower. I’ve been hunkered down in blankets with my dog at home, pondering the differences between resolutions and goals.

I don’t like resolutions. I stopped making them years ago. People would always ask me “What are YOUR resolutions this year?” and I’d answer with an indifferent “Ohhh I dunno…Eat better, I guess. Maybe read some more books…” . All it felt like was a think people do in January and then they would laugh about how they already broke their resolutions in February. “Well now that I’m a failure, I’d better get back to eating this cake and watching hours of TV before I pass out and do it all again the next night! hahaha!”

There’s no meat to a resolution. They’ve become something that, over the years, have become something meant to be broken. A setup for failure. Usually they are fairly vague and there’s no plan of action to back it up.

So now when someone asks me about my resolutions, I say, “I have a few GOALS that I’d like to accomplish this year…” and go on to name some specific things that I’d like to do over the next 12 months or so. I feel like a goal isn’t a big fancy word for something I’m not going to do. It’s a simple word for a simple thing. I want to do this and I will do it. I think goals tend to stick. Last year I had some very specific fitness goals that I wanted to accomplish and I did, with some extra bonus stuff added on as I went! It felt good to finish them and check them off my list.

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Here are a few tips, from my experience, on how to set and accomplish your goals for 2014!

1. Be Realistic. There are short term goals and long term goals. Start small and work your way up.  I started out doing couch to 5k with my running. I knew I could run a mile and I just added onto that. The plan was to run a 5k. I had a bad experience with a St. Patrick’s day run in the past, so that was my first goal. To beat that. So I gave myself a couple months to do the training program, and set a goal within a reasonable amount of time. Not so far away that I’d lose interest, and not so close that I didn’t have time to feel comfortable with what I was doing.

2. Be Forgiving. I knew that it would be a bit of a rough start getting on a new schedule of going to the gym. I knew there would be days that I’d be too tired or busy to go, and I had to let myself be human and rest when I needed it.

3. Make a schedule or plan. I know from past experience, that my body needs some time to recuperate after a workout. So my plan was to hit the gym every other day and never let there be more than 2 days between workouts (unless there were extenuating circumstances).  I could only go to the gym after work, so I had my stuff ready the night before and it was in my car ready to go at 5pm when I was free to go. I made no room for excuses. There was no reason for me not to go, so I went. The schedule was adjusted as needed throughout the year…but there was always some kind of plan behind it.

4. Set Deadlines. If you just say you want to do something by the end of the year, chases are that you will procrastinate and will stress yourself out trying to fit it into your busy end of the year schedule, just so you can say you accomplished your goal. That’s all well and good, but so much more can be accomplished if you get it done by an earlier deadline. I made a goal of 4 5ks and, eventually, 4 10ks by the end of the year. I tried to get the bulk of the 5ks done early (by doing so, I also being realistic). Then I moved on to other races. 1 a month. By adding my other, bigger races, throughout the year, I did end up having to run 2 in November to reach my goal…but that’s better than 4 in a month!

5. Give yourself credit! Also, reward yourself! Every race I ran, I bought myself a new outfit or some new gear to keep myself motivated. I also posted lots of pictures to facebook and posted my times. I know I’m not the fastest person out there. But I also know that I’m faster than a lot of people and doing something is better than doing nothing. So I gave myself credit. Every time I did a workout, I’d post it up to Facebook or Nike+ to give myself  a little pat on the back. This felt good, even at the end of a crappy workout and it helped to get me back out there.

Now…

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What do you like better? Resolutions? Goals?
What are some of your resolutions or goals?
How has your 2014 been so far?

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