Setting realistic goals and seeing them through

A year and a half ago I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. As of right now I have completed four 5Ks, a 10K and 2 half marathons and I can’t wait to see what I can do next! If two years ago you told me I would run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed at you. How I got this far has taught me a lot about life in general and the importance of setting goals.

No matter what your goal is – running a 5K, cutting your grocery bill, getting a promotion, losing weight – all of them have a desired end result and it can be actualized. The end result can seem staggering to achieve and you may have stalled before because climbing that proverbial mountain seems overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to help you chart your way to success, no matter the goal:

Break your goal down to a process and not an end result

Whatever your goal is you should be able to break it down into sections, parts, milestones, etc. For our half marathon training we had a strict schedule that increased mileage slowly each week. We were so focused on reaching our weekly goals that before you know it, we were running 7, 10 and 13 miles. If your goal is weight loss, then don’t focus on the end result but break it down by increments and set dates to reach those goals.

Reward yourself at milestones

Each time you reach a milestone you have set for yourself – celebrate! Reward yourself for your hard work. I have found better rewards are those that actually help you in your journey. If your goal is weight loss, then perhaps a food reward isn’t the best treat. How about a new blouse that shows off your toned biceps? For our running training, I rewarded myself with better running clothing and accessories. If your goal is cutting your weekly grocery bill, splurge on a new item for your home with money you have saved on groceries. Whatever your goal is, you deserve to be rewarded for each step in the process and not just the end result. This will make achieving those smaller milestones more fun.

Reflect on how far you have come and where you are trying to go

I have a hard time with this one myself. I always want to be better but I know it is important to realize just how far I have already come. There will always be another goal or a way to improve ourselves but you need to take the time to look back. Be proud of how you have taken control of something in your life and work towards something that is important to you.

Document the process

As you are reaching your milestones and trying to attain your goals find a way to document the process. Some people find success keeping a journal, or just making a note of their goal on a calendar. Remember when you were little and you measured yourself against a doorway or a wall. You never felt taller but that line on the wall sure showed you were taller. You may not feel richer when you shave $100 a month off your grocery bill, but document that you did it. By writing down weight loss, you may not be at your target weight but you have proof that you are headed in the right direction.

Share your experiences

One of the biggest returns I got from training for these runs is how it affected my friends and family. More people around me wanted to try running, or biking and they said my experience showed them that they could do it as well. Sharing my experience with those closest to me gave me some accountability and it spread the motivation around. While making my life better, I helped some people around me too.

In the past two years being a better runner hasn’t been my only accomplishment but I think the training process taught me a lot about life, expectations, pacing myself, setting more goals and making a plan to achieve them. These were just a few tips I have learned during the process. I would love to hear how any of you achieve your own goals. Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Amanda is originally from Peaks Island, Maine and currently works at Hall Web Services managing their inbound marketing team. She is a self proclaimed workaholic who tries to maintain a busy lifestyle. She is an amateur yogi and runner. Amanda contributes regularly to the Guiding Stars Blog.