I read some pretty interesting things online, but rarely does an article give me a light bulb moment that inspires me to change my life. This post on mini goals is so good, and has worked so well, that I absolutely MUST share it with you. I encourage you to read it if you have big goals, have trouble getting motivated, or want a new approach to making small changes in your life.
My goal has been the same for the last several years: run more. Even though I love to run, it is so so hard for me to get out there. Planning my routes, making a weekly running schedule, and signing up for a race all help a little bit, but haven’t been long-term sustainable. I always fall off the wagon. Mornings are my preferred time to run, but I’m usually rushed enough as it is and – to be honest – the thought of running 3 miles on a chilly morning when I’m curled up in bed has little appeal.
After reading the post about mini goals, I thought there must be a way for me to put this strategy into practice to start running again. I shifted my priority too. I don’t need to run 3-5 miles several times a week – I just need to get my running clothes on and go. At some point I want to start running distances, but my real goal right now is just to become a runner again. My mini goals needed to meet these requirements:
- Fit into my current schedule and patterns
- Be virtually effortless
- Not require much time
As I said, I prefer running in the morning when the world is sleeping, the air is crisp, and there is little traffic. My morning routine
is was this: wake up, shower, get ready for work, walk Barley, leave the house. And therein lies the problem: my very first habit of the day is to fall out of bed and walk the 7 feet to the shower. I do this without thinking. Even if I WANTED to run, I never would in this routine because showering should obviously happen after running. By making a simple switch to this morning routine, I came up with two mini goals:
- Walk Barley first thing in the morning
- Wear running clothes while walking Barley
Notice that neither mini goal actually calls for running. When I wake up, I still don’t want to run. So far this week – every single morning – I have talked myself out of running before even walking out the door. But, magically:
I have gone running EVERY SINGLE MORNING this week.
The day I woke up at 5am to drive to Philly for meetings: went running. The morning I needed to leave the house by 6am (and felt like I was coming down with a cold): went running. This drizzly day on my Friday off: went running. My mini goals don’t require that I run, and I imagine there will be some days that I don’t. But I have to walk the dog every morning, and since I’m already out there in my running clothes it is easy to say “well what the heck, just a few steps.” My runs this week haven’t been long runs. The two mornings where I was really rushed I only ran 10 minutes. The other days have been about 20 minutes. But I’m not going for time or distance, I’m trying to make running a habit.
My other tip is to track your mini goals and keep yourself accountable. Just because your goals are mini doesn’t mean they aren’t important. About a week ago I grabbed a mini 2014 calendar that someone put out on the curb (people do this in my neighborhood with books, utensils, furniture they don’t want) that I thought it would be perfect for my mini goals. And it has been. I love getting to make an ‘X’ in every day that I walk Barley in my running clothes.
I have a bad habit of making ginormous goals that I don’t fully follow through on. And that’s ok with me – I love being a dreamer, and telling myself I can do things that I don’t think I can do. If I didn’t do things I was afraid of I never would have run three marathons, or majored in science, or gone back to grad school, or traveled the Trans Siberian Railway by myself. But on the flip side, if I knew how to appropriately select goals and stick with them, I would have a garden on my patio and an organized house. I also probably would have cooked a lot more recipes out of those cookbooks in the picture up above – ha!
It’s only been a week, so catch up with me in a month or a year and see where I’m at, but I have a good feeling about this mini goal concept. I feel so sneaky for tricking myself into running every day, and it feels good to be creating a tiny habit that is having a real impact on my health.
I don’t want to change my routines too much at once because the key to making lasting change is to make habits of your goals. Once walking Barley in my running clothes first thing in the morning is a habit, I’ll add another mini goal to my life. The options seem endless, and I’m really excited.
When it comes to goals, I think it is important to dream big, but plan mini. Maybe making mini goals is a strategy to consider for those pesky New Year’s resolutions….