I know that Christmas gets all the good press for being “the most wonderful time of the year,” but personally, I prefer New Year’s. It’s a time of fresh beginnings, a time for “do overs.” It’s a time to challenge myself and set some fresh goals or a time to up the ante on an old goal.
Last year (2011), I set a fitness goal for myself: I aimed at walking and/or running at least 700 miles for the year. In 2010, I had recorded over 500 miles of running or walking and so I thought 700 miles was a good number to properly challenge myself while still being realistic. I have a habit of recording my mileage in an Excel spreadsheet, so it was no big deal to keep up with my miles. I had even gone so far as to figure out how many miles a month I needed to run in order to reach my goal.
For some reason that I cannot account for, however, it was not until a couple of weeks ago – the middle of December – that I checked my mileage total and realized that I was over 50 miles short of reaching my goal! I was quite surprised, as I had thought I was right on schedule. Apparently, I had fallen way short of my monthly goals on a couple of occasions and had not realized that I had not made it up.
I reviewed the situation and decided to go for it. I knew that my body would not tolerate running that 50+ miles in a two-week period, so I started walking every other day. I even threw in a couple of hikes to get in the mileage. And on December 30, with a day to spare, I finished my 700 miles down to the hundredth of a mile!
If I hadn’t set that 700-mile goal, I would have continued on at the same comfortable–aka, non-challenging–pace of the previous year(s). But because of my goal, I stretched myself a little (even prior to the last two weeks of December!). I added some significant miles to my weekly regimen, I improved my pace (speed) by a few seconds, and I maintained my weight throughout the year. Besides the physical benefits, the consistency that I built in the running part of my life overflowed into practically every other area of life, as well (i.e., I became consistent in areas that are not related to running). I could literally feel the benefits of the activity in my body, mind and emotions.
Some people are skeptical or downright critical about New Year’s Resolutions and setting goals, saying things like, “Resolutions are made to be broken,” and “I don’t set goals so I won’t fail at them.” But here’s what I have experienced: I increase my capacity and accomplish more by stretching towards something that is just a little beyond my grasp than I do by plodding along in my same-old-same-old routines. Even if I had totally forgotten about my 700-mile goal until the end of December, I would have still logged 150 more miles this year than last. My goal would have still stretched me even if I had “failed.”
So this year, as always, I have set some fresh goals for myself. Of course, they’re not all related to fitness and exercise. I have spiritual goals, mental goals, business goals, financial goals, and even goals related to this blog. You might have guessed that; this is New Year’s Day and this is my very first post.
How about you? Are you a resolution-maker? Do you set goals every year? Do you find that you accomplish more even if you don’t necessarily fulfill your goal completely? I’d love to hear your feedback.