by Ros Kitson
It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about new plans to get fit, healthy, lose weight and a whole host of other plans. Some will succeed but sadly, statistics show, most will fail.
I was thinking about this today and in particular how we treat resolutions differently from goals. Goals tend to be longer term. Resolutions tend to be everything right away. So I decided to compare the two to a running race.
If you were doing the 100m, you’d run as fast as you possibly could right from the start. You’d put everything you had into it. This works fine for that distance because it is relatively short. In less than a minute, you can have a rest and recuperate all the energy you’ve expended.
However, if you apply that strategy to the 1600m (1 mile for people who went to school before decimalisation), then you are not going to run it effectively. The energy you put in at the start will run out and you will start to flag and probably will have to stop before the end.
So, back to goals: If you are planning a lifestyle change, for example getting fit, changing your diet, this would be a long term goal. If you go about this by suddenly deciding on January 1st to cut out all processed food and cook from scratch every evening, go to the gym 3 times a week and walk to work, you might be unsurprised to find that by the end of January, you’ve run out of steam. And several months down the line, you may have given up completely.
You might find it more successful if you pace yourself. Maybe set a starting goal of going to the gym once a week, and cooking from scratch a couple of times a week. After a month, if all is going well, you could add in another day of cooking and start some walking to work. Maybe set a deadline of say June for your new healthy lifestyle to be in place, or even longer if you need it.
This will enable you to really embrace the changes and get them embedded as habit. And hopefully this will give you a better chance at sticking with them.
Other goals will benefit from the sprint strategy. These tend to be short term, or at least fixed term as a sprint requires that you have a chance to rest at the end. A project like decorating a room. A business goal like writing a blog entry. A social goal like organising a party. You can throw all your energy at them and then sit down and admire your success.
The key is to know which approach to use for each type of goal. Many are obvious, but other will be a bit more difficult to assign. A bit like a middle distance like the 400m. (I never liked that one.) The ones in between will need a different strategy depending on your motivation, energy and stamina.
For example, I can write a blog article in one go, so I can assign a sprint strategy to this. But I probably wouldn’t be able to write a larger article that way and I definitely wouldn’t be able to write a book that way. Therefore I would use the marathon strategy for these and pace myself, doing a certain amount each day or week.
Someone else might use a different strategy. They might be able to focus on writing for longer and therefore be able to use a sprint strategy for larger articles than I can. Or they might have to pace themselves for a blog article. We are all different and knowing which strategy you need to use is key.
Once you apply the best strategy, your success rate will be bound to improve.
Good luck and please let me know how you get on.
Tags: goals, new year