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.
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.
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.
If I can sneak away from 5 kids for 30 minutes every other day, then anyone can.
“But I hate running!”
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…?