“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” -Greg Reid
I didn’t say it. But I do believe it.
As you know by now, Running is Rad was designed to inspire us to reflect back on our fitness journey and encourage us to set even bigger goals.
As part of this larger conversation, we discussed Dreaming Big and laying a solid foundation in order to make sure we’re chasing the right goals (by taking mental stock of where we’re at, pairing smart goals with stretch goals, and zeroing in on a dream that is challenging, but within the realm of human possibility).
Next comes the fun part—building a plan that will support these goals.
Here are 4 points I’m thinking through as I craft my own plan:
1. How do I Optimize my Performance?
What does my personality tell me about how I work best? Am I an early bird, night owl? This should inform how I structure my plan.
Do I like the clock to dictate how I spend my time? Like the below excerpt from a previous schedule that told me what to do and when?
Or do I work best from a check list which allows me to do things whenever I want so long as I hit/track my results?
I find it helpful to leave off my rose-colored glasses. This isn’t about the person we wish we are. It’s about giving ourselves the tools we need to build a structure that works for us. We can evolve later.
2. Write it Down
Before investing time writing a plan, consider a quick check-in by tracking how you’re currently spending your time. This is not for the faint of heart. I waste a lot more time, eat a lot more junk, go to bed later than I should. Reading the hard truth brings me back to earth and helps me correct where I’ve gone off course.
Jen Van Otterloo, mom to three, a full-time P.E. teacher, and 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier has this to say about goal setting:
“I always start with the end goal; something I can do but add a challenge. Like a time I’ve never reached or a distance I haven’t run. Then scale it back, and plot out which steps I need to take to get there. I’m a planner, so each week, I write out a tentative small goal I’m aiming for that will help me get to where I want to be. It’s great to do with a cup of coffee! And I schedule it out: ‘Monday I’ll eat this, Tuesday busy with kid activities so squeeze in abs and supplement exercises in the morning before work.’ And for morning workouts, I set everything out ahead of time so all I have to do is get out of bed. But if life happens, don’t freak out. Do what you can and shuffle things around.”
Also, learn from my mistakes: don’t introduce too many new changes at once. If I’m struggling to get up, read, and workout before 8:00 am, I should strive to hit the sheets earlier and develop the habit of getting up when my alarm tells me to before also incorporating a brand-new diet and workout routine. Get one habit down, before tackling another. (An excellent book on how habit creation is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.)
3. Commit to the Routine
Now that we’ve figured out how to create a plan that takes into consideration how we best operate, commit to it. What do we need to say “no” to in order to execute the new schedule? What do we need to say “yes” to? Earlier bed time? Self-education on better nutrition? A routine to strengthen injury-prone muscles? No tv on weeknights? Reading a book that supports what we’re trying to do?
In my own life, this looks like a quick conversation with my husband in which I give him a heads up that I’m working toward a new goal and in order to hit the target, I need to focus on getting into my new rhythm. That usually means saying no (to the best of my ability) to anything outside my existing obligations and the plan for a week or two. I once tried to do power yoga 4x a week in addition to heavy cardio. I was sore all the time and my body wasn’t recovering properly. But, going all-in on the plan was what informed the changes I needed to make to it.
That may be too rigid for you, but it works for me. Everyone’s different—just find a way to commit to your plan.
4. Why so Serious? (Grace)
No matter how perfect the plan, life and our humanity will get in the way. Developing a resilient attitude that responds nimbly to crap bombs tossed in our direction will serve us well on our journey.
Each one of us knows the sting of disappointment, in our performance, in injury, in failure to live up to the expectations we impose upon our ourselves. We’ve all worried that we’re not measuring up, that we can’t catch a break, or that we’re not improving according to our timetable. It’s okay to be disappointed; cry on the bathroom floor for as long as you need. But give yourself a break.
Don’t let discouragement paralyze your progress or rob you of your confidence. Seek to live above your emotions. We may fall seven times but we’re committed to rising eight; because we’re warriors. Learn to laugh at life and discover the joy that comes with being content with where we’re at even as we commit to the process of becoming a better version of ourselves. (Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, is an excellent study on the subject.)
Ok, now that we’ve put a little thought into Planning Well, let’s look at Motivation/Discipline.
Some thoughts on staying motivated and becoming more disciplined will hit the blog in a few days; you’re dying in anticipation, I know. 😊
Remember, you’re the boss of you; no one is going to chase down your dreams on your behalf. And you have all you need to start, right now.
Visit the Running is Rad Collection + get your dream tracker.
Running is Rad Recommended Reads:
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
Grit by Angela Duckworth
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden
Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
How Bad do you Want it? Matt Fitzgerald