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Hello 2022! A primer on goal setting (from my column in the Crag, Jan 2020)

Hello 2022! A primer on goal setting (from my column in the Crag, Jan 2020)

Welcome back! It’s 2020 (actually it’s now 2022 but who cares!) and I’m excited to be able to continue my twice monthly columns here in the Crag. I was out running with the editor recently and discussing my articles, she asked me to spur my readers back into action with some motivational writing to help everyone shake off the holiday excesses - not her exact words - but that’s the gist of it!

By now, a couple of weeks into the New Year, many of you have, I am sure, made New Year’s resolutions, and you’re probably going all out to achieve your lofty goals. Many of these resolutions will be health, exercise, weight and fitness related goals, and whilst this is admirable the research paints a bleak picture; by late February almost 80% of you will have fallen off the wagon so to speak, and those good intentions will have fallen by the wayside. Don’t let this put you off though, because there are a few tips and tricks that will help to keep you motivated and on track.

A few years ago I read a short book by Gary Ryan Blair called Goal Setting 101: How to Set and Achieve a Goal. He had some good general advice that is very applicable to the New Year’s Resolution. The main message I took from the book was that goals should be specific, measurable and positive. They should also be challenging but achievable.

To use an example, a resolution to “lose weight”, would be better stated as “weigh 140 lbs by July 1”. The new goal is positive with the word ‘lose’, which conjures up negative connotations omitted, and it is specific and measurable. Blair states that one should "Never set a goal of losing or quitting...that empowers weakness. Position yourself forward on what you want to be or where you want to go, not what you'll give up."

A goal that may have been phrased as “get fit by going to the gym” may be better put as “spend 1 hour in the gym twice a week”. If your goal is to “eat healthier and exercise regularly”, perhaps “Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day and walk for 150 minutes every week” is a more measurable and specific goal. By making a goal specific we set ourselves a very clear target, and when it’s measurable, we have an easy gauge that helps us track our progress and ensure that we are on track. If we get off track then it’s easy to see, and hopefully that will motivate some positive change. Rather than kidding ourselves we had an active week with perhaps a couple of short walks, it’s easy to determine that in fact we were well off our desired goal, and need to do better next week! It’s far easier to cheat on vague and nebulous resolutions!

Resolutions should be challenging and also realistic. Goals which are too easy are not going to inspire us, but goals which will be impossible to achieve are destined for failure. Having said this, if you are looking at making positive health and fitness changes in 2020 (or even 2022 😂), then I feel it is perfectly acceptable to modify the goal, because any change is better than no change, especially if there are potential long term health benefits.

Lastly, remember to write your resolution down. Put a sticky note on the fridge or bathroom mirror to remind you. If it’s out of sight it’s out of mind! Tell your friends and family or post it on social media as this helps to keep you accountable. Keep it fun, and celebrate small victories along the way, rewarding yourself! You’d be amazed how a new pair of running shoes provides the ideal stimulus for getting out the door, at least for me it does, especially when it’s -15 and dark!