My non-New Year’s resolutions post: Goal setting and my endurance sport plans for 2012

Me in Maui after finishing the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon. Has nothing really to do with this post. I just thought it’d be more interesting than a stock photo of ‘Happy New Year’ text with squiggles and sparkles.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Mainly because I’m always thinking about, planning and refining my goals — personal, fitness and otherwise — throughout the year. But January 1st is a good time to reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year and how they changed you, as well as look forward to and plan what you want to achieve in the year to come.

And by planning what you want to achieve, I don’t mean the lose-30-pounds-and-make-time-to-read-more-books type of plan (otherwise known as the ‘New Year’s Resolution’) — I mean actually writing down your goals, and considering what it is you actually need to do to reach them.

For me, I knew 2011 was going to be the year I completed my first triathlon. Not only did I have no idea what I was doing or where to even start, but also I didn’t even know how to swim. With my target goal in sight (meaning I signed up for the triathlon before I even had a bike or knew how to swim), I wrote down all of the steps I needed to take in order to get there — the first being to get a good triathlon coach, which helped take all the guesswork out of the rest of the steps!

Instead of focusing on the end goal, I’d focus on the smaller weekly or monthly goals — feeling comfortable clipping in and out of my bike, coming within one hour of the time goal in my workout plan, swimming 200m without stopping, etc. This way of goal setting is much easier to manage and less overwhelming than standing back and looking at the big picture, and can be applied to anything, fitness related or otherwise. (We use this technique — performance-related goals vs. outcome-related goals — at my job, too, to help coach self-published authors about marketing. It works — trust me!)

So if you made a resolution to be healthier/lose weight/run a 10k, and maybe laced up your running shoes for the first time in a long while today and went out for a New Year’s jog… kudos. BUT — make sure you have a plan and a bunch of tiny little goals to help you reach your big goal.

But enough about goal setting.

On a more personal note, my 2011 was challenging but amazing — both personally and in health and fitness. I trained for and completed my first triathlon, improved both my half marathon time and marathon time, took up trail running, placed in my age group in a few races and stayed relatively healthy and injury-free. My personal and career life had it’s high and low points, but I know now it has all been worth it and has set me up for an even better 2012 (I have a super amazing announcement to tell everyone, but I can’t spill the beans just yet!)

As for my 2012 fitness goals, I’d obviously love to improve my running times (maybe a sub 4-hour marathon?) and my triathlon times. I also want to become a better swimmer — I’d say I want to improve my swim stoke, but as of now I don’t even have a swim stroke to improve; it’s more of a flail that somehow propels me forward enough to call it ‘swimming’. Haha. I’d also love to do more trail running, and can definitely see an ultra in my future.

What are your fitness/health/running/triathlon goals for this year? Comment below and tell me!! Also let me know if you’re blogging about it so I can follow your progress as well 🙂

I’m going to end this post with a great quote I found on Tumblr. Because Neil Gaiman can sum things up so much more eloquently than I ever could:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman