How to go about setting a goal and then reaching that goal in a way that is systematic, organized and with as less scope of error as possible? This is part 2 (a continuation) of the earlier post. Read the post – Setting The Tone for 2017 – here for if you haven’t. (Long post ahead)
In the last post, we had 1 main question and 3 different questions on where you want to take yourself in 2017 and while looking inward at your dreams and goals for yourself led you. After reading this post, you may want to revisit your list and edit and revise and pare them down to the absolute minimum and with razor sharp focus.
Before I launch into my own experience and learnings, this is the mantra I tend to stick to in pretty much all that I do.
Keep It Simple Silly.
Now, let’s get to work.
The word or the adjective or the definition – FOCUS word – you foresee for the year 2017.
As I said earlier, my word has been FITNESS for the past 2 years. Giving it enough thought will help you drive home the point and position your goal or activity and even behavior towards that definition. It will be the final target you achieve and pretty much every goal can be catered such. So, I would pay a lot of attention to this FOCUS word.
This year it will be different, as I have made plenty a headway in that area and it’s time to pull up other facets that could use some support and will see me where I want.
Timeline: Every journey begins with a small step.
There is no such thing as an overnight success. There is a ton of sweat, time, patience and endurance behind that moment of triumph. If you are willing to put in the effort, you cannot help but get to your goal. No matter the smallest of goals, what does help is organized and methodical planning to get to that point. It’s like charting a road map.
Be a boy scout: Start early, know where you are going and be prepared.
- Yearly goal (long term) – This could end in December 2017, or perhaps something that could go on for a long time. It’s a long term goal that you want to accomplish.
- Monthly goal (mid-term)— Break each goal down to do-able chunks of activity and then assign one to each month to build on each to arrive at the whole. Just like lego!
- Weekly goals (short goal) – Further breakdown or simply create a smaller habit/get rid of a habit/To-do tasks. Creating reminders to help until it becomes a habit is one way.
Apply this ‘Lego’ method of management to each of your goals is how we accomplish them. My style of course.
I’ll take our first question and use that as an example:
How do you physically want to step outside your comfort zone in 2017?
I had planned on cycling 50 miles in the winter/December for a fundraising cycling event. I was doing 10-15 miles tops, 10 months before. This is how I went about it.
Goal: 50 cycling miles in 30-degree weather (if I got lucky)
Breaking it Down:
- I stalked forums and befriended other women cyclists. Joined a group and watched how they got to be such awesome cyclists.
- I was told to get my legs strong. Apart from cycling 4 days/week, I had to strengthen my calves, hamstrings and also my glutes and abs. Targeted strength training in effect.
- I needed the right gear. Shoes, clothing etc.
- I also needed to understand the dynamics of cycling, the correct techniques for maximum performance and the right way to sit, the right way to get off, manage gradients, the cycling gear mechanics, including what to focus (in my head) when the going gets rough.
Applying the Lego time management system, I had a long-term goal in place. Studying, researching, talking to folks who’ve been there ahead of me, I now charted a specific goal for each month.
January – February – March: Since it was winter, and I was a noob, I stuck to staying on the saddle (stationary bike and spinning classes) at the gym. I focused on strengthening my leg and back muscles. I got some advice from a personal trainer, hit the machines at the gym, did yoga and walked in the pool against the current.
April – May – June – July – August – September: I got out on the cycling trail and aimed for 3-4 times a week. Tweaked the days I could get out, between home and how hot it got, how crowded the trails got. I increased one mile up every week, so I was gradually doing 30 miles round trip by Fall. I also signed up for group rides, so I could work on my speed as I had to stay in pace with the rest, the better cyclists. I kept up the strength training, and I learned to rest between days. My knees are bad, so I had to play it safe and learn how the muscles worked, to ice, to reduce inflammation, and just being aware of my body and being kind to it.
October – November – December: The weather was getting cold, so I learned to judge (and sometimes fail) and dress accordingly with the many layers and how best to time my practices. By now I also learned what foods helped me and what I should eat and not, and how to stay hydrated with salts, how to breathe in cold temperatures, how to shift gears easier, and to continue to stretch as the cold does tend to tighten muscles and I needed to work harder in keeping them supple and loose so I don’t hurt them.
The smaller habits that helped each week:
I learned to drink water (I am awful at it, still!), about nutrition and what carbs helped and what proteins would work. I learned about the muscles that support my legs, the contours of my body, how the gravity shifted as I lost excess weight. I read about gears and slopes and how best to navigate them. I learned to listen to music that encouraged me and helped my speed. Learned to meditate so I was able to accept and see myself in a stronger positive light that held me up eithe each practice. I worked on reminders and sought the support of girlfriends in the group where I was held accountable.
The Final Stretch
When I did cycle those 50 miles in some crazy 15 deg F weather, the taste of success was not just hard earned, but I was more enriched than when I started the journey.
Recapping it all, having a larger ONE goal helped me accomplish a lot more as I went along. Things that I learned and that had nothing to do with cycling:
- The science of physiology and nutrition.
- Sports and how muscles and bones behaved differently with age, gender and under pressure
- Met and made some amazingly brilliant girlfriends from various walks of life but all cyclists
- I saw myself in a completely beautiful light. My confidence soared, with the sense of being able to accomplish anything I set my mind to.
- I also grew kinder to myself. It’s okay to slip as long as you knew how to get back on and hang on longer than the last time.
- I lost weight, got limber and I loved the way I looked in clothes that I never imagined I could wear.
- I also appreciated physical labor/activity. It takes various dimensions of you to push that pedal down each time.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the different weathers and the pleasure of being outside
- I grew to be a better loser and to accept the challenge and fight harder with the sole aim to get a wee bit ahead than the last time. Resilience is a learned skill.
It’s incredible how much a personal journey can touch various parts of you to shift perception and make you accepting of all that life throws at you. I started with a simple goal, but I grew in so many ways while I worked on that one goal. You see?
Things To Keep In Mind and Those That Helped Me:
- Choose your goal wisely. (Don’t be overambitious, or stupid. You know your capacity best)
- More than 3 long-term goals is asking for trouble. (Divvy up the goals, Physical/Intellectual/Emotional (all or a combo) think of them as overlapping circles on a Venn Diagram)
- Use resources to keep you in check and guide you and to reduce distractions. (Diary/Blog, Bullet Journals, Post-its, Apps/Digital Reminders, Accountability with a person – Choose wisely and keep things simple)
- Even if you move an inch forward, it’s better than standing still. (Do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise)
- Do not compare the unique you to anyone. Find your support system. (Honestly, 75% is all you. You are your best advocate, support, friend, and mentor, simply coz no one else benefits more (or stands to lose) when you work on you. Working on you is the best investment you can give yourself and everyone who loves you (or are dependent on you) )
So, there you have it! Be ruthless as you look at your list from before and scratch things off that are not compelling you to them. Pare it down. Be honest with yourself. Then apply the Lego method to your goal and write them all down!
You are impressing absolutely no one but yourself, and you are so worth it! No one else cares, really.
Hope this helped. Now, if you will excuse me, I should go do my own list for 2017, which if am comfortable enough, I shall post in January 🙂
I’ll be sharing more such productivity hacks and fitness/food tips and all that what worked for me s I continue to explore and work on myself. Follow me on Instagram,(stories are where the fun is), Twitter or on my Facebook page or subscribe to get posts via email.