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Thoughts on goals: Resilience and growth


I have never been a quitter. Even when most people think I probably should give up, I sometimes stubbornly refuse to stop trying. I saw this last night in my Twitter feed :

If at 1st you don’t succeed, try again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again…

and I looked at my husband and said, “so there, I guess it’s not so weird after all.”

It is the end of quite a year and I am looking forward to what the next year will bring. I have been thinking about the newness, the fresh start, and I have been thinking about my fitness goals. I have been taught to think of specific and measurable goals, which of course are good to have if you are training for a specific purpose. But last night I realized my days of needing to make New Year’s Resolutions to motivate me are over. For some reason goal setting at the beginning of each year seems very arbitrary to me. Why not set new goals when previous goals have been accomplished? Goals that have not been reached are still your goals. And for me, that may mean forever. SMART goals are good for the short term in order to inform instruction and to pave the way for training, but they should not be year long goals.

My new year started almost 8 months ago and I have been working hard ever since. I do not need a fresh set of goals to motivate me; I am already looking forward to the next 12 months. I am working on my single most important goal right now-one I did not even know was important until I was forced to make a change-becoming more independent in the gym. After depending on someone for everything-even the small things- it is so empowering to  be learning and beginning to understand the why behind all of the work I have been doing. This will continue to be my biggest goal.

It is more difficult to make year long goals when you are learning new skills that will eventually lead to learning more complex movements. I could arbitrarily assign some huge number to the pounds of weight I will lift this year, or to the number of miles I will run, but that will happen whether I state them as goals or not. For me, process goals will be more important this new year, as well as things like becoming more resilient, independent, and positive. How will I measure it? Self awareness and reflection help. Keeping a journal and monitoring attitude and effort will also help. Another goal is to self monitor rest and recovery to make sure I am eating and sleeping well. I want to continue to learn and do new things-things I have never done before. I want things to be difficult at first before they become easier-I want to be challenged.

So I am not abandoning SMART goals, but I am no longer making a year long commitment to 3-4 arbitrary fitness goals. My goals are the same as they have been for the last two years-to get stronger, to become faster, and more powerful for life. So that when I can no longer run through the woods, I can walk through the woods; when I can no longer dead lift or squat I can bend down and lift things up without getting hurt. When I can no longer push press I can still lift my carry on luggage and put it in the overhead bin by myself.

Four years ago I needed specific goals to motivate me to change my lifestyle and to create new habits. This year we are refining and redefining everything, and it feels great to let go of arbitrary race times and numbers.

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