Going UpHills: Fall is a Great Time for Goal Setting …. really

In Health & Fitness by Alanna Morley0 Comments

The fall is wonderful for many things, cooler weather, warm sweaters, the click of fire places being turned back on and of course, goal setting.

Goal setting?

Yes. I said goal setting.

When I was in school September marked the beginning of a New Year. This month was filled with new clothes, new friends, new beginnings and endless possibilities for the future. January, the actual chronological marking of a New Year, was just a date and a fancy party that celebrated the half way point of commitments I had already been working hard to complete.

Now, many years later, I find myself dedicated to using September as my guide. But it wasn’t until I had kids that I realized how beneficial the school calendar is to my regiment. Before kids I was a bit all over the place. When I thought about what I wanted for myself I had a lot of abstract ideas. There were so many projects I wanted to create, jobs I wanted to have, and trips I wanted to take. But with no set goals over time, these ideas faded into the background of the next new exciting thing.

Fast forward several years and 5 children later I began to notice myself getting lost into the mom-abyss, that place where everything only evolved around the family and my own identity was starting to blur into IM-A-MOM-ONLY-LAND and those projects I had for myself years earlier were sinking further and further onto the backburner. ‘I’ll get to that project later’ became my motto.

And then one day I realised I had so many ideas that I spent more time thinking about them than actually doing them and at the end of the day I was feeling unsatisfied and frustrated.  What if I took some of this energy, scraped together a few minutes for myself and really focused one accomplishing one thing. How different would I feel?

So right then I decided I needed to get more focused on my own needs and start setting some realistic short term goals for myself. And in a matter of months some of those long forgotten projects started to come into view again.

So how did I do it?

I started in September.

And, I started small. I gave myself permission to take time out of my schedule- just for me- to complete a triathlon.

Ok, yes I said triathlon.

But I was small I swear it! Keep reading….

I picked a short distance, a sprint triathlon which included a 700m swim, 20 km bike ride and a 5km run. For me all of these seemed like realistic distances on their own and putting the distances together the closer to race day would be my biggest hurdle. I set my sights on a May goal, found a race, signed up and I was locked in. What happened next, over the following few months changed the relationship I had with myself far more than the actual race day ever did.

What I found was that by giving myself permission to complete a goal, I was also giving myself guilt free time to myself.

GUILT.

FREE.

I know. You might have to read those two words again.

And I’ll be honest, I never even realized it at the time. I just had a mission, I was going to leave the house, to swim, bike or run at the minimum 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.

What’s 30 minutes?

I’ll tell you.

Nothing.

If I can sneak away from 5 kids for 30 minutes every other day, then anyone can.

“But I hate running!”

No kidding?

So do a lot of people. Running doesn’t need to be your thing, neither do triathlons, or goat herding. I don’t care what you do with your 30 minutes, set a DIFFERENT goal for yourself and give yourself permission to achieve it in small increments.

There is a clever acronym for successful goal setting that I discovered well after I completed my triathlon, but the experience validated why I was successful. It’s called SMART goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

And most importantly, don’t set yourself up for failure.

I didn’t sign up for an Ironman out the gate. Instead I thought about what I COULD accomplish and went for it. This September will mark the completion of a second Sprint Triathlon and I’m laying out the ground work for some new goals. I figure at this rate if I can squeeze out the door for 30 minutes… what’s another 10 minutes?

How far is a half marathon again…?

Alanna Morley

I like to swim, bike & run. Sometimes right after each other. I also have five children. Some days I’m not sure which were the better decisions.….

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