Runners are not new to the concept of goal-setting. From recreational runners who have completed their first training plan towards a 5km to endurance athletes who have run countless marathons, it all started with a goal; will-power and dedication to see the plan through to completion; and a healthy dosage of courage and determination to complete what you started.
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Over time, as runners increase the stakes and change what they’re striving for in their performance, their goals will, as they should, change. So this year, why not take the opportunity when updating your goals to change the goal setting process. We’re in resolution mode, as is evident with all the Resolutioners at the gym and in fitness studios, so instead of setting vague goals for the next race, try re-training your mind and your overall vision for your goals.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” ― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Master
Start with beginner’s mind
If you start your goal setting with beginner’s mind, it allows you an opportunity to take a step back and look at a number of possibilities that you might otherwise disregard if you remain too stuck on what you know. “I’ll never be able to run a marathon because of my bad knee”; “I’ll never B.Q.”. Have you truly looked at these as possibilities (if they’re what you’re striving for)? If not, why not start looking at what you’d need to do to get on that road? As you do this, you’ll be able to pinpoint if the possibilities you’re flirting with are new goals, improvements on current goals, or changing how you approach your goals entirely and approach them in a new way.
Take the time to examine yourself and what you see in your life in 10 years. Start with your long term vision. Don’t simply write down the goals but what motivates you to chase after them. Aside from the physical aspect of training, your performance (and other aspects of your life) can be improved through well-defined, achievable goals that have meaningful and deep-rooted value placed on them. The closer they are to your heart, the more the commitment will shine through.
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In order to then determine the how, start to work your way back. Be specific. What do you need to do in the short- and mid-term in order to stay on track for your long term goals? What can you do now to create the platform towards achieving that goal? While you’re at it, describe what success looks like along the way. You’ll start to develop meaningful milestones on realistic timelines along the way that will let you know if you’re on track or straying away.
Be ready to change course: success isn’t a straight line from A to B. No matter how much you plan and prep, you can get derailed – things happen outside our control – injuries, progress that is slower than expected, change of vision. Many times, these changes are cyclical. One thing goes out of whack and other things follow. Be mindful of this and go with the flow. Re-define the path. Take the ups and downs and be present through them. That’s where the character is built. That’s where… shift happens.
Who’s in it with you? Friends, family, even strangers going through the same experience – share with them. A lived experience makes it accountable, and there are people to celebrate with and be consoled by along the way. As you tell the world, you are manifesting your goals and you will find support in the most unexpected of places.
Don’t lose sight
If dedication starts to fade, take the time to go back to why you’re doing it in the first place. Other things will have to shift in your life as you prioritize your goals in order for you to be consistent in your efforts. Develop habit, but be careful to not burnout. Take time to rest. Make everything intentional so you can enjoy your journey towards the goal.
About the Author: Alice Toyonaga is a yoga teacher, runner and bureaucrat. She is best described by her friends as a goal-setter with seemingly limitless endurance and a gift for multi-tasking. Convinced she sleeps in plank, her friends also know that in order to see her socially, they either have to join one of the many run clubs she is a part of or attend her challenging yet grounding yoga classes.