This year has been a bit of an unusual on for me in terms of goal setting. I’m accustomed to laying out my goals for the upcoming year well before the New Year, but I was behind and ended up setting them early January. To be honest, I had a really hard time figuring out what I wanted to accomplish this coming year. I felt like last year, my goals were obvious stepping stones to the year before. For example, I ran 50 miles in 2018 so the next step was to run 100 miles. I also qualified for NYC in 2018, so the obvious goal of 2019 was to run the TSC NYC Marathon, etc., etc. I like to take time out for myself in December to review my accomplishments in the previous year and reflect on what fell through the wayside, what priorities changed and why, and to give myself a deeper sense of what’s truly important to me.
The goals I set for myself last year were:
- Run Haliburton 100-miler
- Run NYC Marathon
- Pay off student loan and become 100% debt free
- Save $5,000 TFSA
- Write a book
- Publish at least 1 blog post per month (12 total)
As you can probably tell from my clearly marked strikethroughs, I accomplished all, but two BIG goals; write a book and save $5,000 in my tax-free-savings account. Instead of hitting myself over the head and feeling worthless for not achieving my goals, I like to take time to reflect on the why. Why did my intensions and strong desire to hit these goals at the start of the year, fall through the cracks?
A few years ago, I had a strong desire to write a book; specifically about my experience during the #RUN70 Half Marathon Challenge. What I learned as I continued the process of writing, while simultaneously publishing blog posts and content on my social media, was that I thoroughly enjoyed short snippets of writing and publishing vs. the long haul of an entire narrative. It took me over 100 pages of writing and a first round of edits to realize this, but I made the executive decision to trash the book and focus on more fulfilling goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t return to my goal of writing a book, it just means that it’s not a priority for me at this time in my life. With the savings goal, I was a bit too aggressive and didn’t take into account the expensive races I was going to do and gear I needed to purchase..It was also going to still take me 6 months to finally pay off the balance of my student loan (from starting in January).
I don’t feel guilty or hate myself for not accomplishing everything I set out to last year. Rather, I try to learn why I didn’t achieve my goals and celebrate the ones that I did. I also understand that priorities shift throughout the year. New ideas emerge and others just don’t seem all that important anymore.
This year, I’ve decided to set more flexible goals split between running, finances, and writing:
My 2020 Goals:
- 1,000 consecutive days of running (February 1st)
- 100 miler – Javelina Jundred (Arizona) – thanks for the suggestion Mel!
- 1 marathon (get a PB time) – TBD (maybe Ottawa)
- Finish 1 other ultra (50-80k) TBD
- Save 50% of my income maxing out my RRSP + TFSA contributions for the year
- Publish 24 blog posts (2 blog posts per month on average)
As both Mark Manson and James Clear would attest, it’s not just about setting the goals themselves, but more importantly, the process of getting there. In his post, Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead, James Clear outlines the importance of developing a system (and habit) to make real progress in your life; working on systems that encourage repeatable behaviours over long periods of time. So in addition to my goals list, I’ve put together a list of activities (daily/weekly/monthly) to help support each of my goals:
- Meditate 5x per week for 10 mins and 1x per week for 20mins
- Strength training 6 days per week (4 arms/back + 2 core/legs)
- Incorporate 1 new exercise in routine every week
- Mix up routine once every 2-3 weeks
- Run 5 miles at least 5 days per week and 2 days lower distance (5-7km)
- Track all income and expenses using detailed sub-categories on the 1st of every month (make sure I’m pacing towards my saving goals for the year and to give myself a clearer picture on my spending)
- Write for 20 minutes 3x per week (Mon/Wed/Fri)
- Publish a blog post mid-month and at the end of every month
- Listen to 2 non-fiction audiobooks per month and read 1 book per month
Once I’ve crystallized my goals, I find it useful to discuss them with a friend and/or partner. I don’t know about you, but I do feel somewhat vulnerable sharing my goals with others (and publicly as I’m doing now). However, if I talk about them out loud or write them out and publish them, I feel accountable. My good friend Kristie and I have made a habit to share goals with each other and also do monthly (and sometimes weekly) check-ins to see how were pacing towards them. It gives us both an opportunity to be candid with one another; providing feedback, advice, and encouragement.
One word of caution…Be careful who you share your goals with because some people can deter you from following through on what’s really important to you. A few people closest to me didn’t (and still don’t) understand why I want to run 1,000 consecutive days for example or why I wanted to run 100 miles. Reactions varied, but some were not supportive at all and even turned to outright anger of my stupidity in wanting to accomplish such an outlandish feat. For the most part, I know that it comes from a good place; a place of caring for my well-being, but at the end of the day, my goals are 100% for me and me alone.
What are your goals for the year? Do you focus on goals or systems? Would love to hear from you. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.