We all set ourselves arbitrary goals this time of year. To be fitter, to be healthier, to lose a bit of weight.
I’m all for using this time of year to reset ourselves mentally. To refocus our energy and to set your sights on achieving more for yourself as you move forward.
We do it in business, in our personal lives, with our jobs and careers and I’m sure many of you, as I do, do the same with your personal relationships too. A date night once a week with your partner as a goal. To see your grandmother more often etc, etc.
When people talk about goal Setting you’ll often hear about S.M.A.R.T. goals.
In short this means goals that are:
Timely or Time Bound
For me this works, and works well. Especially the timely part of things.
However, a missing link for me though is making your goals public, or essentially making yourself accountable to achieving your goals.
So, this year when you’re setting your goals for what you’re wanting to achieve for the year ahead ask yourself ‘Is competing the missing link in me reaching my goals?’.
Now I’m sure you have just said to yourself, ‘yeah right Luke, I’m wanting to run a marathon this year and now you’re wanting me to complete with the Kenyan’s…’.
Well not exactly.
What I mean is making the fact that you are going to be running the marathon public knowledge, telling everyone who will listen. Making them aware. Or at least the people that matter the most to you anyway. Especially those that you see most often.
Why? Because they’re going to help to keep you accountable to your plan. They’re going to be asking you every time they see you how your marathon Training is going or how close you are to running that sub 20 minute 5k, or if you’ve nailed that 200kg deadlift.
They’re going to be checking in with you and if you are serious about your goal your not going to be wanting to let them, and more importantly yourself down.
I have used this approach personally a couple of specific times to great effect. Once, when I ran the 2012 Melbourne Marathon and more recently with my first Weightlifting Competition in December.
It wasn’t a big competition by any means, but for me it was the first step in part of a larger journey. It was a small local competition in Geelong. However, I really wanted to commit to the process, train well for it, learn from all of the experiences I was to have along the way of training for something that I was a complete novice at and push myself to get better at something.
I could have easily keep it anonymous from my colleagues and family but I wanted to make sure with all of the pressures of life, family and work I committed to competition on this day and moved forward from there. It made me a lot more nervous on the day knowing that everyone would be eagerly awaiting updates when I was finished but that was all part of the journey.
A minor injury hiccup about 2 weeks out from competition could have easily derailed my plan as well had I not had my accountability network in full force. A bit of treatment and some modifications to my training plan had me back up to speed and feeling 100% for the day.
The result? Respectable I guess for where I was at as a complete novice. Something I was reasonably proud of.
The added bonus? The increased focus and dedication to my training in the lead up had me hit an all time PB only three days post competition.
Another thing competing helped me with was setting my expectations of myself in the future that little bit higher. Maybe something that was also partly responsible for that all time PB. We can all start to feel that we are tracking well. That we are reaching our potential. Spend a little time around people that are truely pushing themselves to their limits and we can quickly realise that we should be asking more of ourselves. Whether this is in life, our career or with our fitness. Five people who lift you up and push you harder and spend more time around them.
Competing can help us to connect with these like minded individuals and form bonds that can help us as we continue down the path of progress.
So as you’re setting your goals for the year ahead ask yourself if there is a way that you can turn your individual goal into something competitive. Once again, this doesn’t have to be outwardly competitive against the rest of the field in a marathon but it could mean you’re keeping yourself accountable against your previous best time in a run, a pace you’ve set for yourself or it could be more strength focused. Commit to competing in a novice weightlifting, powerlifting or strongman competition. If it’s more overall or general fitness would something like a Crossfit competition suit you, or Spartan Race or Tough Mudder.
If you’re anything like me you’ll find the pressure of the impending competition will sharpen your training focus, help you remove any of the obstacles that seem to always otherwise find themselves in your way in normal circumstances and help you to really bring them best out of yourself.
So for me, 2018 holds many more opportunities to compete. I’m currently setting up my calendar to be jam packed, but also as realistic as possible so that my training can be taken seriously.
After all I want to make sure I take every opportunity I can to get myself back into this ridiculous looking onsie…