As we head into 2012, many people have already set or even broken their New Year’s Resolutions. According to USA.gov, the 5 most common resolutions for this year are Drink Less Alcohol, Eat Healthy Food, Get a Better Education, Get a Better Job and Get Fit. Walkers and runners are often focusing on (or adding) their fitness goals; targeting on goals geared around Mileage, PR times, Number of Races Completed or Competing in a Race at a New Distance.
Often we set a goal and at the end of the year are not able to tell if we have even attained it. For example, Get Fit can mean different things to different people. To make it easier and even possible for us to attain our goals, we need to set goals that fulfil SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) criteria. By writing down each goal and making sure it fits these five criteria, we will be setting goals that we know are possible. At the end of the time period you’ve set (year, month, or whatever you choose) you can review your written goals, and truly know where you stand, what you’ve done well and analyze where you can improve next time.
SPECIFIC: Each goal needs to be specific. Some people will set a goal to get healthy this year or eat better. These goals are not specific enough to be able to tell if you’ve attained them. Instead of these consider the following: exercise 3 days per week, lose 5 pounds, eat 5 servings of vegetables per day or quit smoking completely.
MEASURABLE: Each goal needs to be measurable. Losing weight or being more active is not a measurable goal. Instead of these you will want to write your goal to lose 5 pounds or exercise 3 times per week for 1 hour each workout.
ATTAINABLE: Each goal should be attainable. Do you have the resources to complete the goal? For instance, taking a cruise around the world is not attainable if you don’t have the funds to pay for it or the time off work to take the trip. Create goals that you can actually accomplish. There’s no reason to set yourself up for failure before you even start!
REALISTIC: Each goal needs to be realistic. If your goal is too aggressive and not doable you will only get discouraged. This is not productive (which is the whole purpose behind writing down your goals). If you have never run before, running a marathon next month may not be attainable. You may want to choose a shorter race as your initially goal as you work toward your marathon goal (longer term); or set the marathon as a goal for next year or a few years from now.
TIMELY: Each goal should be timely or have a time frame attached to it. For instance, I will complete this goal by the end of the month of February or by the end of the year.
Each year I write down a few goals for myself in different categories (Fitness, Home, Work, Financial, etc), and make sure they fit these criteria. I find it helpful to review my goals each month or quarter, and analyze my progress. This way I can focus on any items I need to and stay on track for success.
My three fitness goals for 2012 are:
- Race walk 1000 miles.
- Improve my marathon time (Current PR 5:40:25). I’ve chosen my training schedules for the year, which work on both speed work and distance to attain this.
- Complete 100 consecutive push-ups by following the workout in the book “7 weeks to 100 Push-Ups”. Note: I’ve tried this before and had to stop with some shoulder pain. I plan to try it again this year by including the arm and shoulder stretches in the book, which I didn’t do last time.
What are your fitness goals for the year?