Setting Goals for a Happier and More Satisfying Life (by Mike McHargue, Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator)
While we typically consider goal setting around the New Year and possibly now as we exit the Omicron surge and return to more normal activities, it should be a key component of your overall fitness program year-round.
Goals provide focus and structure to your training. Even the best-intentioned athlete will lose motivation for sustained training without clear and compelling objectives. Goals and their supporting objectives act as reminders of upcoming events and the type of effort you must exert to succeed, and each success serves as the foundation for your next accomplishment.
Facing, enduring, and ultimately triumphing over adversity in pursuit of your objectives builds mental toughness and provides a reference point for telling yourself, “I’ve suffered more in training than I have in this race!” While competing in an ultra-endurance event, thoughts of quitting are banished when you think about the time and commitment you’ve already dedicated to your goal.
Even for more modest goals, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi reminds us, “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” Each time you step out the door or into a gym when you’d rather watch television and eat Cheetos, you build another block in your mental foundation and strengthen your commitment to personal excellence.
Your goals should inspire, excite, and motivate you. Here are some suggestions to help you pick ones you can live with and successfully attain:
Growth oriented. Your goal should be to achieve more than you’ve done in the past, which will require both mental and physical energy.
Achievable. Pick a realistic goal. I accept that no amount of training will result in my running a sub-four-minute mile, so that wouldn’t be a realistically achievable goal for me.
Measurable. Pick a goal that is easily measured. This could be anything from cutting time on a run to dropping 5 pounds to increase overall wellbeing.
Personally meaningful. Put some thought into what you really want to accomplish and what you can be passionate about, not only now but also in a few months down the road.
Clear objectives. Use objectives to provide incremental, measurable gains toward your goal. Clear objectives provide feedback on how your training is progressing, giving you time to adjust your approach to address any shortcomings.
Goal visibility. Make your goal highly visible. Cut out an advertisement for the goal (if it exists), use race posters, or make your own daily reminder of your goals. Place where you’ll see it every day.
Cheerleaders. Ask friends and family for motivational support. Once you announce your current goals, they’ll ask about your progress. Training partners will ask about your progress almost every time they see you, too!
Training log use. A logbook can be a powerful ally in your quest to achieve your goals. It can provide an honest report of your actual performance and keep you on track.
Whatever your goals may be, identifying and working toward achieving them will improve your chances of living a more healthy and satisfying life.