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The start of a new year can be the perfect time to reset, evaluate our priorities and move forward with renewed focus. Grand resolutions are impulsively declared and we blast into the year with more energy than the Sydney Harbour fireworks, only to have that energy fizzle and fade just as fast. 

So what is the key to maintaining our drive?

How we set our goals is really important. A long-used principle of goal setting is to set SMART goals, that is to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-bound. What exactly is it that you want and when do you want it? Do you have the time to devote to achieving your goal in this time frame? The resources? The genuine desire to see your goal through? Is your goal part of the bigger picture you have for your life

Setting a goal that you know in reality you will never achieve is both pointless and demotivating, the polar opposite of what goals should be. You will not go from couch potato to marathon runner in a month!

The best goals are not made after your 3rd New Year’s Eve champers, surrounded by your equally tipsy friends, making equally whimsical pledges! They are made with a clear head, taking into account your long-term goals for your mental & physical health and well-being. What is it that would really be beneficial to your life? 

Of course, just making more realistic goals does not guarantee their success.  You still need a manageable plan – that tired expression “You don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan” is annoyingly accurate! Seeing your plan written down step by step and committing to each step in an achievable timescale can help create a map of success. It also takes “I can’t” and turns it into “I’ll try” and eventually, “I did”.

One of the most popular fitness apps does just that. The Couch to 5K running plan was created in 1996 by a man hoping to motivate his Mum to run, he broke the plan down into small achievable steps with the motto “no pain, no pain” – and it worked! He wanted this for his mum because he had found that running made him feel better, physically, mentally & spiritually. It is the perfect example of the why behind a great goal.

This doesn’t mean that you will never run that marathon, but if you can’t honestly say that you have the time to devote to running up to 80 km a week for 4-5 months, now is probably not the right time to try.

So, think about your life and what you would most like to achieve long-term. Write down a measurable goal that contributes to your long-term ambition. Create a plan that you can realistically follow and have it somewhere you will see it daily, a diary, an app, stuck to the fridge. Review your progress as you go to ensure you are still on track. Most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate how far you have come.

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