Looking ahead to 2023.
We are now just over a week away from the start of a new year. Whilst that doesn’t mean much more than the start of another month, it is an excellent opportunity to set new goals.
Goal setting provides direction and allows you to start the year with a clear sense of purpose, knowing exactly what it is you are aiming for. I for one love a goal.
What should you consider when setting your goals?
Purpose. I always ask myself, what is the purpose of my goal, aka, why do I want to achieve it. Knowing my why not only allows me to make more meaningful goals, but it also ensures I keep going when times get tough. When the goal doesn’t seem quite within reach, remembering why I want to achieve it keeps me motivated and focused.
Measurable. I always ask myself, can my goals be measured? This is important as it allows me to see if I have achieved it or not. It also allows me to keep track of my progress on the journey. If you cannot measure your goal, you may become deflated. This is because there is no knowing if you are going in the right direction or getting any closer to achieving it.
Flexibility. Is there some room for your goals to adjust as the year progresses? Most of the time, life doesn’t quite go as you hope, therefore our goals may need to be adjusted. You may not need to consider this when setting the goal, but it is important to remember that the pathway to achieving your goal won’t be linear. I always try to remember this, and know that if I need to change the goal marginally, or take a different path towards accomplishing it, that is ok.
Ambition. Be ambitious. A goal is there for a reason, and should not be easy. If you set a goal you know you know you will achieve within a couple of weeks, reevaluate it. Ask yourself, does your goal push you, and does it make you feel slightly nervous? A truly ambitious goal should scare you. I have set myself many goals that I don’t ever know if I will achieve them, but more often than not I have, and it is incredible looking back and seeing the progress you have made along the way.
Realistic. Whilst ambition is good, don’t be too over the top. You want to set a goal that is actually feasible, otherwise it will only leave you feeling deflated. For example, if you detest running, maybe don’t set the goal to run everyday of the year, because realistically you aren’t going to get out the door every single day when it is pouring with rain. Perhaps set yourself the challenge of running 2-3 times a week. You can always move your goal post as the year goes on.
There are lots of things to consider when setting your goals for the new year, and these are just some of them. I hope they help you set off in the right direction.
Journey Over Destination.
I love a good podcast, and this week I listened to the High Performance Podcast with Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes interviewing George Russell. I am not a major Formula One fan, but to be honest you don’t have to be to enjoy this podcast . I found the main message of this podcast really resonated with me. This was the importance of focusing on the journey over the destination, because essentially, when you get to the destination, the joy you experience is very short lived and not always what you expected it to be. Therefore, in order to find true happiness, as opposed to happiness in events or objects, we need to look within, and ensure we enjoy the journey. What can we do to ensure we make the most of the journey?
Set ‘mini destinations’
Setting mini destinations as opposed to one main one, means these little boosts can come more regularly. These can be weekly goals, monthly goals, or even daily ones, but what they do is allow you to check in with yourself on a regular basis. They allow us to feel like we are making progress and moving in the right direction on our own journey. They encourage you to focus on the more immediate picture, and enjoy every step on the way, instead of constantly waiting for what is to come.
Focus on you.
You may have the same ‘destination’ in mind as someone else, but your journey to achieving it is never the same. This is because no two people have the same journey. Whether its related to injury, rate of progress, daily life, personal life or anything else, your journey will never be compatible to another person. Therefore, there is no point focusing on someone else’s journey or what they are achieving, because it will have no effect on your journey. It may only make you enjoy yours less. Therefore, enjoy spectating other people’s journeys, but don’t compare yours to theirs, because there are absolutely no parallels between them.
Check in regularly.
Rather than always focusing on the physical destinations, it is important to mentally check in with yourself. Be conscious to evaluation how you are doing along the way. Ask yourself, am I enjoying the journey? If your answer is no, ask why/ What changes do you need to make in order to enjoy the journey more? Perhaps there are changes you need to make, or there is a mindset shift that you need to follow. Checking in with yourself regularly ensures you don’t get complacent and put your happiness above your achievements.
Comes from within.
We always think the grass will be so much greener when we achieve XYZ, but that isn’t the truth. That is because we always remain the same person, no matter what physical achievements we reach. Whether we feel happy with ourself and our life, can only be influenced by the way we think about ourselves, and not by our success. This is because happiness comes from within. It is not a destination. We must therefore focus on how we feel and the happiness we feel with ourselves, not what our achievements will add to us.
The feelings we imagine feeling when we reach our goals are feelings of complete joy, but we often hype these up to be greater than they actually are. As a result, once they are achieved, it often feels anti-climatic, or we realise that the joy is only temporary. We quickly move on and return to the person we have always been. This is why it is so important to find happiness within and on the journey, rather than always focusing on the destination.
Being injured is hard. There is no way around it. It tests your patience, your motivation, your mind, your dedication and even your sanity. Injuries usually comes with a whole lot of cross training. Even if you enjoy cross training, not being able to run at all tests this joy. What can you do to ensure you remain as motivated as possible when an injury arrives?
Establish a routine.
When not injured, training for most has a structure and routine to it. This gives you direction and ensure you go into every day and training session confident in what you are doing. Therefore, keep this structure when injured. Throughout my injury I have kept a very similar training programme to what I would follow if not injured. My session days have mostly stayed the same, I have easier days in between, and on a Sunday I do a cross training version of a ‘long run’. This helps keep me motivated as I don’t feel lost throughout the week and am clear on what I am doing each day.
Remember your why. (And remind yourself of it daily)
We all have a purpose to what we do exercise wise. Whether you run to stay fit or train to compete, every step you take has a purpose. When injured, this doesn’t change. Your why stays the same, you are just chasing after it in a different way. I find it helpful to keep this at the front of my mind at all times and remind myself of it every morning. Therefore no cross training session seems pointless. Whilst I might not be running, I am still training and working hard, and chasing my goals by doing so.
Something is always better than nothing.
Exercise is exercise. Fitness is fitness. No matter what activity you do, it will benefit you in many ways and also help your running in the future. Except at the early stages of your injury, and on regular rest days, I believe you will always benefit more from doing something as opposed to nothing. You will undoubtedly loose some running fitness, but though cross training you can keep your base fitness level pretty high. Therefore, on those days when you are really wondering why, remember that a trip to the gym will do you the world of good.
Just like with most forms of exercise, the time goes by a lot quicker when you have company for it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone else who is injured. Perhaps you have a running friend who also cross trains, or there is someone at the gym you have spotted who regularly uses the same piece of equipment as you. Whoever it is, get in touch and see if they’d like to join you. Chances are they would be very grateful for the company too.
Listen or watch.
Cross training can be incredibly boring. Therefore there is no need to make it even more torturous. I find it helpful to put on some cracking upbeat tunes, or find a captivating series to watch, as this definitely makes the time pass by a lot quicker.
Listen to yourself.
For me personally, if I am feeling unmotivated and sluggish, it is a sign. I am usually excited to go training and ready for it. Therefore, when my brain starts telling me it can’t be bothered or it really doesn’t want to go, I usually need to listen to it. This is because I am starting to feel tired and potentially run down. If I listen to my body when it says this, I know I will be able to tackle every other day motivated and feeling fresh.
If you are in the midst of injury, I hope this helps keep you going, because you have GOT THIS. Don’t give up.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!