Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stepping Stones to a Successful 2014

What are your biggest dreams for the year? Don’t hold back, don’t think rationally. If life worked out perfectly for the next year, what would it look like? What would you have, do, see, and feel if you had a fairy godmother that could make all your dreams come true?
Taking the time to write these dreams down makes them real. You don’t need a fancy journal or your ten year old daughter’s diary. Use your Training Peaks account, tablet, or closest Post-It note. List as many races, places, feelings, and experiences as you can. Want to win your age group at Red Hills? Put it on there, even if you finished at the bottom of it last year. What puts a smile on your face when you think about it happening? A summer trip with the family? Write it down. Put down at least a couple of dreams for each part of your life: family, career, and sport are good places to start.

It might not be the most organized way to keep track of your goals, but it'll work!
Obviously, goals and dreams are different entities. Accomplishing dreams depends on a multitude of factors, many that are outside of your control. You may have dreams of winning Kona, but if you just started swimming a couple of years ago, that may not be a realistic goal.
Think of goals as stepping stones for your dreams. They give you something tangible to achieve that is within your control. On another piece of paper, write down three goals to work towards in three different areas of your life. Again, these should be a little more realistic than your dreams.

Once you’ve identified your goals, think about how you will set out to achieve them. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pin down four to five steps that will set you up for success. If running under 24 minutes at Red Hills is your goal, perhaps your steps would be achieving specific pace milestones on the track, getting stronger on the bike, doing hill workouts to prepare you for the hilly bike and run course, or increasing the amount of running you do off the bike in training. Specificity is key here.

Lastly, why are these goals important to you? Is it a challenge you want to meet? Do you want to beat a fellow competitor? Maybe it’s to set a good example for your children. Write these down too. When your motivation wanes, as it does for everyone, reminding yourself of why these goals are important to you may give you the push you need to get going.

Now that you’ve laid the base deciding how you’re going to achieve your goals and dreams for the year, think about barriers that may stand in your way. What obstacles and challenges do you foresee? One challenge to winning your age group at Red Hills could be lack of confidence in open water swimming. By acknowledging what could hold you back, you are setting up an automatic goal. How will you become more confident in open water?

As most of us know, the best part of achieving a goal is the reward we give ourselves afterwards. What are some treats you can give yourself when you accomplish your steps and goals? Just like rewarding children for positive behavior, set up rewards for yourself when you meet a goal. It could be something as small as going out for frozen yogurt if you complete all your scheduled workouts for the week. Or a new pair of running shorts after you finish your first 10K.

One of my favorite treats!

Keeping your dreams, goals, stepping stones, and rewards visible will serve as a constant reminder of what is important to you. Some people like writing about them on social media, as it keeps them accountable to others. Some like to post them on their refrigerator or bathroom mirror, so they are frequently reminded of what they want to achieve. Find what works for you and take action. 

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