We triathlon-folk love us some goals.
Crossing finish lines, breaking personal records, catching up to that 68-year-old lady who just whizzed by you on the bike – it’s all fuel for the fire.
And with a new year about to begin, our blogs, journals and training plans will fill up quickly with resolutions for 2013.
The passion is great and all, but we need a strategy to help us stick to these goals and make sure they don’t fall by the wayside, like my futile quests to stop biting my nails, become more flexible and eliminate frozen pizzas from my diet (Red Baron, you sir, will be the death of me!).
I’m not going to tell you what New Year’s resolutions to set; only you can do that. But here are some tips to help you approach the process from the right angle and stay on track to dominate 2013.
It all starts out with my favorite line from City Slickers.
Find your one thing
If your list of goals looks like mine, it never ends and requires constant maintenance and revisions. And as much time as I spend on it, it seems like so few of the items ever get crossed off.
Our problem is that we set too many goals, all at once, lose focus, and end up failing at accomplishing anything – even though we’re always so busy “getting stuff done.”
Pick one goal and attack it one baby step at a time.
Maybe it’s cutting one minute off your 5k run time. Perhaps you want to speed up the time it takes to fix a flat bike tire. Or how about swimming 20 laps at an average 12 Strokes Per Lap. Whatever it is, make it crystal clear exactly what you’re aiming for.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by going after five goals at once. You can keep a running list of goals on the back burner, but focus on one at a time.
Now that we have our one thing, we need to set a course for accomplishment.
Map out the routine
Spend some time on the front end to identify the steps it will take to conquer your goal. This is the toughest and – sure enough – the most crucial part of the process.
Why? Because it forces us to adjust our routine and think critically about our behavior. But once the new component has been incorporated into our plan – and we know exactly what we need to do to accomplish it – all that remains is following through.
For example, when I first started triathlon training, getting up to work out at 5am was a battle.
I’d go to bed late, wake up groggy (if at all), hit snooze a couple times, stammer around getting my gym bag together, and spend 15 minutes figuring out what my workout was going to be that day. Pretty soon it’d be 6:45am and time to get ready for work, before I even got through the Workout Of the Day.
My routine had to change to accomplish this morning-workout goal. So I sat down and spent an hour mapping out my weekly schedule and planning my workouts in advance (Google Calendar is great for this!).
This saved me time in the morning because I knew exactly what I was going to do at the gym, every day. No more wasted time deciding what I needed for that day’s workout.
After about a month of diligent weekly training schedule planning sessions, waking up early was ingrained in my routine and now it’s just how we do!
I even look forward to morning workouts now, because it lets me carve out an hour before work to grab coffee, read my book and hit the ground running when I get to my
Eliminate distractions and opportunities to fail
You know yourself better than anyone.
So it’s up to you to identify all the sneaky ways you weasel out of commitments. Learn to kill off off the barriers between you and your goal, mercilessly.
Set up little tricks to not let yourself fail and incorporate them into your weekly training schedule (from the section above).
I found that by getting my gym bag and clothes ready the night before, going to bed by 10:30pm and setting my phone alarm clock on the other side of the room gave me no excuse to skip a morning workout.
If you’re always flaking on group bike rides on the weekends because they take too much time out of your Saturday, make it more convenient and ride solo or go to spin class.
Maybe you find yourself on the couch, watching TV and checking Facebook after work, instead of going to the gym. Avoid the couch’s tractor beam altogether and go straight to the gym from work. Once you’re there, you’ve accomplished the pivotal act of showing up – and it’s go time!
Make your goal part of something epic
On the surface, none of this seems fun or enjoyable: waking up early, torturing yourself on the track or in the gym, ignoring all those donuts in the break room.
But crazy endurance athletes know it’s all part of the glorious bigger picture.
So to stay inspired, take your New Year’s resolution and tie it to something awesome.
- Your goal to run every day is no longer just about losing weight. Now it’s about losing weight, strengthening your legs and finishing your first triathlon to show up all the haters at your High School reunion.
- You get up early to go to spin class every week to go faster on your bike, tackle hills easier and not get passed by so many 68-year-old ladies.
- You stick to your training schedule to set a personal record at your next triathlon, which will make you stronger, healthier and one of the last ones standing when the Zombie apocalypse arrives.
- For me, I tie a lot of my training goals back to honoring my Aunt Leslie. She fought hard through 19 years of cancer and still had fun, smiled and helped a lot of people. I want to make her proud and pay it forward.
Now you’re ready to attack 2013 and set some awesome New Year’s resolutions. More importantly, you have the strategy to stick to them and dominate your goals for the rest of the year.
What’s the one goal you’re going to dominate in 2013?
How are you going to map it out, make it awesome and eliminate distractions?
— Live Every Day —
Here are some more resources to help with your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions
- Nerd Fitness always has great tips for productivity and behavior change.
- A nice article on No Meat Athlete about building new habits.
- I like the quote from Thomas Edison in this Brain Pickings article about avoiding work and finding that one thing.
- If you haven’t read Tim Ferriss’s books or blog, you need to. I’m reading The Four Hour Work Week and in addition to being inspirational, it’s improving my planning-ahead strategy and overall efficiency.