Every New Year’s Eve thousands of non-running people make a promise to themselves that this will be the year they become more like us runners. Even those who have spent years making fun of runners with witty remarks such as, “I only run when chased” or who yell, “Run Forrest!” from their car windows, feel compelled to get off their couches and attempt to become runners themselves. They may want to lose a few pounds, lower their cholesterol, or get into shape for an upcoming beach vacation. They figure running is their ticket to achieving the life and body they desire. If they could hold to their resolutions and become dedicated runners, they just might get there. But all too often their resolutions are forgotten before their new running shoes have a chance to get dirty.
As a reader of this blog, you are probably already a runner. You are already doing what so many people aspire and fail to do with their resolutions. But this does not mean you are satisfied! If you are like most runners, you have goals to improve. Maybe you want to train harder, run a new PR, or enter your first 10K or even marathon. No matter your goal, the likelihood for success is not good with only a half-hearted resolution. If you are serious about improving, you need to treat your resolutions like serious goals. So how can you make sure to follow through and accomplish your New Year’s resolutions and goals? One way is to tell as many people as possible about them. Tell anyone who will listen what you intend to do, and ask them to hold you to your promise. With their support you will be much more likely to follow through.
In our book Running the Edge there is a section titled “Say it Out Loud” where we discuss how to create goals and follow through. Below is an except from the book that applies well to New Year’s resolutions:
“When you state your goals and desires out loud, they become real. Verbalizing your political or religious convictions makes them a part of you and your personal identity. When others know where you stand, you are held more accountable to your beliefs.”
“I am going to be the first high school runner to run under fifteen minutes in the 5K in Colorado. I am going to win the high school national championship.” These were just two of my goals going into my senior year of high school cross-country…I made posters with these and other goals in large print. They hung on the wall of my bedroom and were the last thing I saw before I turned out the lights to sleep. I told my family, my friends, and even reporters about what I wanted to do. My goals were written down in notebooks, hung on the door of my locker, and sitting on the tip of my tongue. By posting them and saying them out loud, I made them real.
I have been accused of being brash, cocky, and overconfident during my career. Some people have noted this as a flaw in my character; others, a strength. I have never been one to hide or suppress my goals from public view. Even though I have not accomplished every single goal I have declared to others, my sharing them with my coaches, my family, my friends, my teammates, and even the media has helped me stay focused and kept me accountable to back up my words. I believe that if I had kept my dreams and goals private, I would not have accomplished even half of them. I needed to say them out loud.
Even though I would declare my goals to anyone who would listen, it was when I shared them with other runners that I felt the most impact. A stranger on the street does not understand what it takes to run a 5K or make an Olympic team, but runners are my kindred spirits. Proclaiming my biggest hopes and dreams to those who share an understanding with me always has a greater impact.”
Resolutions are just goals made at a specific time of the year. Holding to resolutions takes the same amount of dedication, desire, determination, and commitment as chasing other goals.
This year, no matter if your resolutions are running related or not, say them out loud. Make them into posters, put little reminders in your notebooks, day planner, in the bathroom, and on your nightstand. Most importantly share them with your kindred spirits who really understand you and your pursuits. The more people who know about your resolutions and the more you focus on them daily, the more likely you are to succeed!
Happy New Year!