12 June 2010

Motivation - Setting Your Goals

I'm not going to tell you anything new here, sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of what we already know!

Motivation is the activation or energisation of goal-orientated behaviour.  Motivation is related to but is distinct from emotion.  When people say they feel motivated or de-motivated, what they really mean is they're feeling positive or negative.  Keeping motivated is about staying positive and focused on your goals.  Yes, that's a little pedantic, but important none-the-less.

Lets start at the beginning with this one...

You've sat on the sofa and seen something on TV, or a jogger has whooshed past you in the park, or you've decided in your head to 'do something' and bought a pair of shorts... What you have felt is some positive push to get a bit of what they've got.  You've become motivated to do something.  So... what's next?

What you do next will be the underpinning of everything to come.  It will be the single most biggest motivational tool you will ever have and will ever use and you will revisit it time and time again.  Grab yourself a notebook, it'll be your best friend over the next few months.  You are going to set yourself some GOALS.

Hell yes.

There is one rule when you are doing this.  You are going to banish ALL negative thoughts.  There is no such thing as a negative here, there are only solutions and positives.

First and foremost you need to clear your head and think straight, why did I decide to start, what am I actually setting out to achieve?  As an example, I'm going to use the girl who whooshed past you in the park jogging!  You wanna be like her right?  (Bear with me on this one...)  So you write a short list of why you want to do this.  Then you get down to the nitty gritty.  Actually writing your main goal.

All Goals You Set Must be Set SMARTER

They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Responsible, Targeted, Empowering and Revisable!  (Thank you Jon Shepperd for this utterly brilliant acronym!)  And this goes for all goals in life, not just fitness related ones.

A specific goal to get to whooshy girl status would perhaps be to comfortably run 10K at a reasonable pace, say in 50 minutes.

For it to be measurable you need a plan where the end achievement is to do this, you need also to have a fortnightly or monthly 'goal post' such as a 3K run, you will during your training see the times for this come down and perhaps after a couple of months this 3K will become 5K.  If you record your heart rate alongside this and calories, for the same run you can expect over time to see your heart rate and calories come down for the same paced run, or in order to maintain the heart rate, your pace increase and your time come down.

Your goal must be achievable, if you have a very busy life and can only fit in 2 runs a week then perhaps 12 months would be a good timescale, if you have plenty time, support and dedication, then perhaps 6 months would be do-able.  You want to set yourself up to succeed!

It must be responsible, you need to make sure that by doing this, it's not going to have a detrimental effect on your body, your work, your home life etc.  Pushing yourself to run twice a day straight away would probably be detrimental to all 3 for example.  You're looking to enhance your life, remember?!

Your goals need to be targeted, your target in this instance is a sub 50 10K!

The empowering part comes along with setting yourself up to succeed.  As you pass each milestone you will feel empowered, boosted by your success, you must not look on it as 'still got a long way to go' but as 'yes that's a step closer'!  Positive thinking is King!  It'll give you a confidence boost too.

All goals must be revisable, you must be allow yourself for example, if you go on holiday, get sick for a week, or are performing better than you expected to, to sit down and re-visit your goals and push/pull things in one direction or another.  If you reach your goal, revise it, change it a bit, give yourself a new challenge, this will keep you motivated beyond your original time frame!

So, you've got the motivation to start in the first place, you've written down that you want to run a sub 50 10K in 12 months time... what now?

You need to think about how you are going to get there.  That's where the mid and short term goals come in.  Oh yes.  We're not finished with the goal setting just yet!

A good example of a mid term goal would be to run a 5K in 12 weeks time.  So you have your first distance goal. Your short term goal would then be to complete week 1 if a 12 week 5K program.

Now, the reason this is all so important is that it has given you A PLAN to stick to and A FOCUS.  One of the biggest reasons people fail to continue working toward their goals is a lack of focus and no real planning.  They wander into the gym, halfheartedly do a few things but don't really know what they're doing.  The mid and short term goal setting forces you to THINK hard about how you are going to achieve the end goal.  Even a quick skeg of the web looking for a plan and some info can give you the motivation to get out there and just start!

The importance of keeping a good log is not to be overlooked.  Remember your notebook?

Once you've done your rough plan, you need to get more specific, you need to write down what you're going to do day on day for the next few weeks.  Ticking each thing off as you go along as well as writing down what you've achieved will give you the motivation to continue in what might seem like a bit of a twisted sadistic kind of a way.

Remember, part of the SMARTER acronym is 'Measurable'.  When you record times, distances, paces, heart rate stats and how you felt before/after etc. It gives you a greater focus.  You'll look satisfyingly at your first week and think 'I did that'!  Or you'll flip back over the last six weeks and go 'oh my god I couldn't run for 2 minutes 6 weeks ago and I just ran for 30 minutes straight'.  Or 'oh, this time 3 months ago I was 4 minutes slower on that same circuit'.  Do not underestimate the power of the log! And faced with a longer run you can look back at when you did 3x10 minutes and say to yourself 'ach it's just a couple of those stuck together, easy!'.

Flipping back to the front page to remind yourself of your goals on days you feel a bit lacklustre will also help!

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