It has been said that an examination of history serves as a map by which one can see the patterns of the future. And I don’t know about you, but I would be a much happier human being if I knew what “patterns” my New Year’s Resolutions would follow for the next 12 months. For example, I would prefer to know now rather than in September if I will actually go to graduate school, bake all 14 variations of cheesecake in my recipe queue, and keep the rust off of my backpacking gear.
So, I deduced that it would be in my best interest to look at the ’15 years of the last three centuries in order to to get a glimpse of what the future may hold. What has humanity been able to accomplish in 1915, 1815, 1715? Here are a few highlights:
1915: The neon tube light (think NYC and Vegas) was patented, Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental phone call from New York to San Francisco, and Edouarde Fabre won the Boston Marathon in 2:31:41.2.
1815: The world’s first commercial cheese factory was established in Switzerland (my personal favorite), and natural gas was discovered in the U.S.
1715: The total eclipse solar phenomenon was observed for the first time, and the French invented the folding umbrella.
My hypothesis? Several things. First, big things can happen in a year. Secondly, those big things could impact your life, and others, for years to come. And thirdly, the accomplishments above show us that successful endeavors have similar characteristics, themes, and disciplines that allow them to be achieved and sustained. Here are five filters that I will be running my 2015 goals through, and that we believe will assist you in choosing quality resolutions yourself.
Choose Attainable Goals
Being the bearer of bad news is not my forte, but for the good of humanity, I’ll do it just this once. There are a plethora of things that you have the ability to achieve (many of which you don’t even realize), but there are also things that you cannot do. And while that statement may feel reminiscent of your parents breaking the news that you actually might not be the next Michael Jordan, in the long run, it’s a good thing to understand. It will mean that you have the energy and focus to concentrate on the things that are possible. Choosing a goal for this year – whether it’s a race to run, a time to beat, a schedule to follow, or a new trail to forge – will be much more enjoyable if success is attainable. So feel free to choose boldly, just don’t forget to choose within the bounds of realism.
Choose Measurable Goals
The most thrilling component of my cheesecake-baking resolution is that I will get to test them all. And once I try them, I will get to decide upon which recipe variation produced the highest quality result and give myself a pat on the back. Like sampling cheesecake, progress made in your running goals can be measured, if the goals are formed correctly. Positive results are motivating, a small reward along the way. So whether it’s timing your intervals or clocking your increased mileage, choose a goal that allows you to measure regular progress.
Enjoy the Process
There are, generally, two types of people in the world: those who are motivated by discipline and results, and those who are motivated by fun and “the experience”. Both leanings are highly valuable, and if you feel as though you don’t fit squarely in one or the other… don’t worry – I’m won’t force you to choose. The point is, each person needs to find a way to gain satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment as they work toward their goals, because one is much more likely to persevere if the process is enjoyable. This will be different for each personality type. If you are motivated by discipline and results, be sure to track your progress or set up a solid routine that you find invigorating. If you fall on the other end of the spectrum, find a way to make your training runs feel like a fun event. Run with friends, run somewhere beautiful, explore new routes, listen to podcasts or create your perfect running playlist. Just be sure to include Eye of the Tiger.
Do Less to Do More
Plain and simple. You can only do so much at once, so don’t try to accomplish 28 goals this year. Go for 2 or 3; as your focus intensifies on those few endeavors, your success rate will rise as well. If your goals are short-term and can be accomplished within a month or two, then increase your number, but attempt to focus on one or two at a time in order to encourage focused progress.
There is something to be said for good, old fashioned accountability. If we have learned anything from Twitter, it’s that once you publicize something, anyone can see it, comment about it, criticize it, and reference it. The point is: it’s out there and others will notice if you don’t follow through. If you’re aiming to improve upon your running career in some way, shape or form, keep yourself accountable by signing up for a race. Now. Don’t wait until you feel ready, but rather, use the knowledge that your name is on the roster and the race fee is paid to motivate you on the days that you feel less disciplined. If not a race, tell a friend what your goal is so they can check in with you, or better yet, have them join you in your resolution.