I’ve never been a fan of New Years’ resolutions. Many are made in the throes of revelry during parties, are responses to dares or simply statements of aspirations with no real plan for achieving them.
But this year, I decided to take a crack at setting a couple of specific goals for 2019. I had a birthday over the holiday period and that was also an opportunity to think seriously about where my life is heading. This is what I’m planning for 2019 and how I’m going to track and achieve my goals.
I’m a little old school when it comes to setting goals. During the early part of my career my boss used the SMART system for setting goals in my employee performance plan. There are several different versions of the SMART system but this is what I’m using this year.
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – attainable
- R – realistic
- T – trackable
I’m now in my 50s and staying healthy and active is becoming increasingly important. My dad died of heart disease and complications arising from Type 2 diabetes. And while there are some genetic predispositions for those conditions the triggers that exacerbated them were very much lifestyle driven. As a parent, I want to not only live long enough to see my kids grow up but I want to be healthy and fit enough to actively participate in their lives. And that means more than just surviving for another three decades or so.
My goal for 2019 is very simple to state. I want to be active and record at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. That exercise can be a brisk walk, a run, strength training, bike riding, hiking or whatever. For example, on Day One of his plan, on New Years Day, I went to the cricket at the MCG and went up and down the stairs from the lowest deck to the top of the Southern Stand for about 40 minutes. The next day, my birthday, I met my family at a local beach by riding my bike there.
Here’s how it fits the SMART system.
- S – specific: 30 minutes of exercise every day
- M – measurable: All you need is a watch or clock to measure the activity
- A – attainable: Half an hour doesn’t feel impossible
- R – realistic: I can almost always find 30 minutes in the day that would be otherwise wasted
- T – trackable: I have a simple chart where I check the days off and if I miss a day, I note the reason
My 2019 goal fits into a longer-term goal. If I can make daily exercise a habit then it will be easier for me to continue in 2020 and beyond. When I look at my neighbour – I can see how a consistently active lifestyle can help keep you both physically and mentally healthy. He’s 78 years old and rides his bike for 30-40km three times or so per week. And it’s not a motorised bike – it’s a serious road cycle and he gets out with the MAMILs on popular routes near the beach. That’s the sort of long-time fitness I’m looking for.
I did think about setting goals around losing weight but I think being active and healthy is a better goal. I figure that if I stay active and eat reasonably well that my weight will stay managed.
I’ve already missed a day this year – when the temperature topped 40 degrees last week, it was too hot to do much of anything. But I’m not going to beat myself up over it. There are days when I exceed the 30 minutes – I’m in a trail running club and most weeks I do a 90-120 minute with them. So, while I’m planning to exercise for 30 minutes every day, I’ll easily exceed that as an average over a week.
There will be some challenging times. For example, when I’m on a long-haul flight finding the space to exercise for 30 minutes may not be easy. But I can use times in airports to got for a brisk walk or easy jog.
I also have some other things I want to focus on this year. I have been, at different times of my life quite materialistic. I never saw that in myself before but, on reflection, I have been. This year, I want to spend more time with people that are important to me – my family and friends. And I want to spend more time developing my faith. Those goals are a little harder to define in SMART terms as they are more qualitative than quantitative. I can easily measure and track time spent on an activity but quality time with friends and family are a little trickier. But one thing my wife has said to me, and I think is a good way to help ensure I spend time on the right things is to stop saying “I didn’t;t have time for [insert activity here]”. Instead, start saying “[insert activity here] wasn’t a priority”.
Changing the words is a powerful way of ensuring you give your time to things that are most important. And by shifting the focus from not having time, to setting priorities, it helps with decision making.
Do you set new goals each year? How do you track them and stay motivated?