New Years Resolutions can be hit or miss. Whether you’re aiming for small changes or a major life overhaul, it can be a bit daunting once you’ve identified something you’d like to accomplish. Me? I’ve never given much thought to resolutions as such. Sure, when the new year comes around, I think about something I might like to do. But much like the inspiration of taking up boxing or rock climbing after seeing the latest action flick, it typically isn’t a thing after the initial inspiration fades. Which is usually the problem with New Year’s Resolutions.
Well, it’s not the only problem.
To be certain, I’m not an expert on resolutions, but anyone with even a little experience making –and eventually failing– at accomplishing one knows what usually happens. After the initial inspiration, a token effort is made to follow through. Inevitably, the weight of the task, life events or a lack of motivation takes its toll, and by the first week of February it’s, “New Year’s Resolution? Yeah I’ll get back to that later.” And, well, you know how that goes.
So when I got the inspiration to try my hand at a proper “resolution,” it was in the back of my mind that most fail, even if the goal is relatively mundane. I decided up front that I didn’t want to do anything that would be monumental. I wanted it to be fun, but challenging. Physical, but not grueling.
Why I chose a running-based resolution is beyond me.
I enjoy physical activity. The gym is my happy place. It’s my “me” time, and the eight or so months they were closed during the plague-that-shall-not-be-named was brutal. Still, I manage to survive by being outside as much a possible: Walks, bike rides, workouts in my backyard and the occasional run. To be sure, I’m not a runner as such. At least not a long distance one. I don’t get the “runner’s high” that running aficionados get (I’ll take the gym pump every day of the week). But I suppose I have reasonable endurance, particularly since I dropped the excess weight. And I didn’t want to focus on a lifting-related resolution, especially since there are certain genetic and “supplement” limitations to, say, wanting to add 20 pounds of muscle or bench 225 pounds.
So that’s how I settled on running one 5k race per month for 2021.
My main aim in setting this particular bench mark was that I thought it was something I could accomplish with some effort and dedication above and beyond my normal routine. It’s no problem for me to want to go to the gym and lift, but running on a somewhat consistent basis would mean I would have to step out of my comfort zone. But not to a crazy degree. Which is one of the keys to accomplishing a “New Year’s Resolution.” You’ve got to be S.M.A.R.T.
The S.M.A.R.T. method is pretty tried and tested, and it’s a great way to be realistic in your goal setting, whether it’s to lose weight and get fit, or work towards that new job. I found I was able to apply it well to this particular goal.
Specific: My resolution was easy to identify, being to run (not walk) a specific type of race for a particular distance a specific number of times.
Measurable: Aside from know what I wanted to do, I knew exactly how to measure whether or not I had accomplished it (thanks Apple Watch). Thus it was very easy to keep myself accountable, particularly when I get close to the end of the month and still had a race to run.
Achievable: Obviously one of the most important aspects of proper goal setting. It’s tough to run a race on a broken leg for example. Or if such physical activity goes against doctor’s orders, it might not be the best resolution to set. Biting off more than you can chew is a recipe for failure, which is why I wasn’t signing up for any marathons.
Relevance: Why was this goal important to me? Going outside my comfort zone was important, and I wanted to accomplish a fitness-related task. Fitness is very important to me–I suppose you could say I have a passion for it. And who doesn’t like shiny medals?
Time bound: Setting a deadline to complete the goal is obviously incredibly important. Just twisting in the wind saying, “I’ll get to it whenever,” indicates you aren’t really serious about it. For me, I knew I had to get the race done by the end of each month, and by December 31, 2021, I had to have twelve races in the bank.
Following those guideposts was essential to helping me complete my goal, especially as I noted I’m not a “runner.” I enjoy the end result of finishing the race, not the process. It’s the complete opposite of being in the gym lifting, where I live for pushing myself that little bit further each time, and seeing the physical manifestation of those efforts. But the destination –the feeling of completing my goal– was rewarding just the same.