Every year, come 1st January, athletes make the same resolutions. Some common examples are:
- I will run faster this year.
- I will try my hand at triathlon this year.
- I will learn swimming this year.
- I will reduce weight this year.
The vast majority stick to them for a few weeks, and then go back to their old ways. By the time the year comes to an end, they find that they are more or less in the same place as the beginning of the year.
Why does this happen? What’s common in all the above resolutions? The main problem is that they are very vague and they don’t have an actionable plan.
Let me offer you a way of not just making resolutions but actually making sure you stick to them:
Set a clear measurable goal
Instead of simply saying “I will get faster”, set a hard measurable target such as “I will get faster by 5 minutes at the half marathon distance”.
Instead of saying “I will try my hand at triathlon this year, decide on a target race: “I will race Goa Triathlon next year”. Or “I will race Ironman xyz this year”.
Instead of saying “I will learn swimming”, set a clearly defined target such as “I should be able to swim 1500m within 45 minutes in freestyle”
Instead of saying “I will reduce weight”, set a loss target: “I will lose 5 kgs by the end of June and then keep that weight off till the end of the year”. (Psst..here’s a secret I am sure you already know: Shedding weight is the easy part. The hard part is keeping off the weight).
Create an actionable plan
A resolution without a plan is just a wish. Its like hoping to get rich by purchasing lottery tickets than actually doing hard work at a job or business. Do you wish to leave your resolutions to luck and chance? If not, then you must create an actionable plan to achieve your resolutions. The more specific you get, the better it is.
Lets take some of the above examples of a clearly defined resolutions/goals:
“I will get faster by 5 minutes at the half marathon distance”
To implement this goal, you might come up with the following plan:
- I will consistently run at least 3 times a week for the entire year.
- I will follow xyz training plan and stick to it for the entire year.
- I will hire a coach and let him take care of all the details. (Psst…I heard this coach is not so bad 🙂 )
“I will race Ironman xyz this year”
- Set a reminder for the date the registration opens and register it on the first day.
- Research travel and accommodations in time.
- Estimate the total cost for the race including registration, travel, accommodation, equipment (new bike maybe?), coaching fees if any, etc and budget for it accordingly.
- Make sure to be on top of (or work towards) all three disciplines – swim, bike and run – and establish a good base in all three. Consistency is important!
- Start on a well designed structured plan in the build of the triathlon.
“I will lose 5 kgs by the end of June and then keep that weight off till the end of the year”
- I will reduce by sugar intake by 50% in the first month, and then again by 50% in the second month and then keep at the level for the rest of the year.
- I will eat junk food at most once a week.
- I will eat 2 pieces of fruit every day.
- I will not eat after 9pm at any cost.
There is a saying: What gets measured, gets improved.
This applies here too. You think you have increased your consistency? Great! Lets measure. How many workouts do you miss? Once every two weeks? Lets say you run 3 times a week, which means you are missing 16% of your workouts? Does that sound like a lot? You bet it is!
A better goal would be 1 missed workout every 4 weeks, which would mean you are missing 8% of your workouts. Sounds a lot better! Eventually, aim to get that number to 5% or less.
Lets take this in the context of weight loss.
You think you have reduced your food intake? Are you measuring everything? How about those two cookies you ate while having tea/coffee – bamm! that’s 100 calories. How about that plate of bhajis you ate because it was the “first rains of the year” and you want to show on social media how great a time you are having eating those? Bamm! That’s 200 calories. You had a satisfying meal but just could not control yourself to a second (or third) helping? Bamm! Another 300-500 calories.
Measure often, measure diligently, and then analyze it to make changes as required.
Try the above method this year and ensure your resolutions are not DOA – instead of making vague resolutions and leaving them to luck and chance and your whims, fads and fancies, set well defined goals, and back them up with actionable steps and measure those steps repeatedly along the way to make changes as required.
I am pretty sure you will be closer to your resolution in 2018 than in any previous years.
Good luck! Because you always need a little luck! 🙂
-Coach Atul Godbole