January 1st always brings about the infamous New Year’s Resolution. Not surprisingly, getting fit and losing weight consistently top the list. Resolutions can be great, right? They are just goals, in fact. But why is it that so many people fail to achieve their new year’s resolution? It’s because they require motivation to achieve and motivation requires the desire to improve or to change. If you’re going to sit around for 364 days a year and then, magically, decide on January 1st to make things better, it’s a recipe for failure. So go ahead and set some goals with the start of 2012, but keep the following suggestions in mind ( as provided by our friends at CrossFit Impulse) as you head into the new year:
1. Don’t shoot for the stars and hope to land on the moon. Hope is not a course of action. Shoot for the moon and LAND ON THE MOON! That is to say, don’t set too ambitious a goal, but after you set it, hold yourself accountable. Set a goal that is difficult but achievable. We often overestimate our abilities, especially when it comes to physical training. If you’ve never run before, then resolving to run a 5k in less than 25 minutes might be too ambitious. How about resolving to run a 5k without stopping and without walking?
2. Decompose your goal into tangible parts. Do you want to lose weight? How much weight over how long? Do you want to become stronger? What’s a common task that gives you trouble that you would like to perform with ease? Do you want to change your behavior in some way? In what situations will you exhibit the different behavior? Phrase your goal in real-world terms that are measurable and have meaning to you.
3. Have a plan to achieve your goal, because your goal requires work. If your goal doesn’t require work then tape up your hands to protect your knuckles, punch yourself in the face, and go back to step one and set a better goal. How do you plan to accomplish the work? Do you have the information and facilities you’ll need? That doesn’t mean buying a $10,000 tool set to meet your goal of learning basic car maintenance, but you might need some tools, or some training. When will you work on your goal? If the answer is “whenever I get time” then go ahead and resume face-punching. You don’t have to create an hourly schedule, but if you don’t commit tangible time towards your goal, then it will be still-born. We all get 24 hours in a day–every single one of us. We all decide how to allocate those 24 hours, and every minute we allocate to something is taken from something else. It may be taken from something useless or something you enjoy, but the time you devote towards achieving your goal will be taken from something else. Recognize it, accept it, and plan for it.
4. Start executing now. This is another reason why new year’s resolutions are usually worthless: they ascribe mythical importance to beginning work towards your goal on January 1st. Nobody who ever gave half a sh*t about achieving something decided to start next week. That doesn’t mean you have to start doing burpees in your living room or in your office right now, but you should devote yourself to your goal right now. Thinking about changing your diet? Change today. How can one be serious about changing his diet yet decide to continue eating according to his old lifestyle? That is a contradiction, and contradictions don’t exist.
The point is that setting goals and working to achieve them is a messy and difficult process. While I enthusiastically encourage you to set and achieve goals, you can’t condense that process into a neat package with a bow that you unwrap at midnight with a glass of champagne and a kiss. It’s just not realistic, and achieving goals requires real things: planning, sacrifice, effort, and dedication.