Setting goals for the new year: measure the gain not the gap

With only three days until Christmas, four days before Easter chocolate goes on sale (you know it’s true) and the New Year shortly thereafter, many of us are thinking about the next 12 months and what they may hold. Personally I’ve always thought of New Years resolutions as pretty wanky and something that most people abandon as soon as things get too hard. Hands up if you’ve stood around at a party on the 31st of December (maybe a little tipsy) and said to yourself “This is the year I’m going to lose weight” or “The new me starts tomorrow”. Yeah that kinda resolution doesn’t work, change takes time and it’s easy to just revert to your old ways.

Don't make resolutions; set goals instead

2016 was the first year that I set goals for myself. I think there is a big ideological difference between resolutions  and goals. Rather than saying to yourself: “I’m not going to do this” or “I’m going to force myself to do this”, you are instead setting out what you want to achieve at the other end and then letting the journey between point A and B happen organically.

Here’s what my 2016 looked like:

  • Pass BodyStep AIM 1
  • Get certified as a BodyAttack instructor
  • Run my second half marathon
  • Improve my upper body strength

Looking back almost 12 months, these goals seem pretty insignificant now (and pretty vague in some instances) but I’m super happy to say that I achieved them all. To be honest they were all pretty much ticked off my list by August, which I think means I need to be more ambitious in 2017.

When I say they seem insignificant, it doesn’t mean they didn’t challenge me, hurt me or push me past my comfort zone, it’s just that they’ve become my new normal now. I’ve learned new skills, grown, gotten stronger and now I’m ready to move on to the next set of goals.

Setting SMART goals

There’s a pretty damn good chance you’ve heard someone talking about SMART goals in the past by let’s recap for old times sake.

Specific: don’t say “I want to get stronger”, say “I want to be able to do 50 push ups”
MMeasurable: you need to be able to have a metric to gauge your success. In the above example we have a hard number to aim for.
AAttainable: don’t set yourself up for failure, your goals should be a bit beyond what you think you can do but don’t make them impossible.
RRealistic: make sure you have the time and resources to get there. You’re not going to get to the gym 7 days a week, but 3 days may be achievable.
TTimely: set yourself a time frame so you can’t just go on and on forever.

So here’s what I invite you to do. Over the coming days and weeks, think about those challenges or goals that have been swirling around in your head and write them down. Take a look at what you’ve written and see if they match the SMART goal format. If not, you may need to make them a little more specific or reword them to clarify them. Once you’re all set, make your 2017 master goal list. You can write to in your diary, put it on the fridge or just make a note on your phone, but by putting pen to paper (or finger to screen) you are cementing those goals not just physically, but in your mind too. Think of this of a working document that you can add to and alter throughout the year, as you achieve goals or maybe need to pull back on or make more challenging.

Measure the gain not the gap

I was listening to a podcast the other day (I can’t for the life of my remember which one) and the hosts were discussing a concept that totally resonated with me and is relevant to this discussion. When you are reflecting on your goals you should always “Measure the gain, not the gap”. The example was:

If your goal was to earn $1,000,000 for the year and you ended up earning $950,000, instead of saying “I missed my goal by $50k”, think instead think of all that you have gained by setting your sights that high. In other words Measure the gain, not the gap.

To be honest I think there is something to be said if you fall short of some of your goals, and that’s that they are probably really good goals. Assuming that you have done the leg work and put in the hard yards, you have set yourself a challenge that it really going to push you to your limits. It doesn’t matter if you have to set yourself the same goal multiple years in a row as long as you’re making progress each year. However if you’re hitting those goals early on and hardly breaking a sweat, think about pegging up and shooting higher.

Make yourself accountable

My last recommendation for goal-setting is to make yourself accountable to those around you. Once you have set your sights on a goal, tell everyone you know about it (without being annoying and bragging). Think about it, if you’re aiming to do a marathon and you can’t muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning, maybe the fact you’ve told all your family and friends what you’re aiming for might just spur your to don your runners and hit the pavement. If nobody knows then going back to sleep is pretty tempting. If people tell me their goals, I check in with them from time to time and see how they’re tracking. It’s a great technique I love using.

Here’s my goal list for 2017 so far (more to come):

  • Be able to do 20 strict wide pull ups
  • Run my 3rd half marathon
  • Post at least 1 blog post a week (hopefully way more)

I’m still working though a few more that I’ll share as I cement them.

I’d love to hear from you with your goals for the new year (I’ll keep harassing you about them too). Post below or send and email to GroupFit HQ.

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