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At the start of April I was challenged by Institute of Inertia, in partnership with Comparethemarket.com, to set myself a spring goal, resurrecting a resolution that failed at the start of the year and using the brighter, longer days to give myself a chance at success.
I decided to focus on doing something for me and set myself the goal of running three times a week throughout April. Running is something I have done on and off for quite a while now but wanted to really try and make it part of my routine and the challenge was a great opportunity to do this.
The Institute of Inertia gave me the following advice at the start of the challenge and it was definitely a great help:
1. Set resolutions in Spring: Quite literally, spring time is the point of new beginnings. With the clocks going forward bringing lighter evenings, nature is blooming, and life awakens. In Spring, our good intentions to get things done and make positive change are given a welcome boost by, quite literally, a brighter outlook.
2. Don’t bury your head in the sand: Evidence suggests that people often act like the proverbial ostrich and bury their heads in the sand, rather than confront the reality that they are not making the progress toward their goals that they would like, or hoped for. One strategy for success is to keep track of your progress and be honest with yourself regarding what needs to change.
For example, if you want to start saving money, then you need to be realistic about how much is coming in and how much you are spending per day. If you don’t have the full picture, then you are less likely to be able to achieve your goal.
3. Plan ahead: Evidence suggests that planning when, where, and how you will achieve your goals is really important. When we plan how to tackle obstacles in advance we can ensure that we are better prepared giving ourselves a better chance of achieving our goals.
For example, if you are trying to eat healthily, then plan your meals out for the weekand get all the necessary ingredients in. You are then less likely to pop to the supermarket after work when you’re tired and hungry and buy a ready meal or snack.
4. Bite size chunks: It can be overwhelming thinking about the end goal. Often what we are trying to achieve feels out of reach leading us to lose the motivation needed to keep going. Breaking the goal down and focusing on small achievable actions can make it feel less daunting.
For example, rather than setting yourself the task of losing a huge amount of weight like a stone or more, try and break it down to one or two pounds a week. When you succeed in the first week you should not only be motivated to keep going but your end goal may feel more achievable.
Throughout April I have kept this advice in mind and it has definitely been a great time for me to try and achieve my running goal. The longer days have given me more hours of daylight to get outside. The weather has been generally warmer and nicer and really my whole outlook has just been brighter.
I also made sure I knew exactly when I was going to go out for a run, adding it to my calendar and organising other activities and plans around it. In the past it has been so easy to just not go for a run and do something else instead – like sit on the sofa for an extra hour… But having my runs laid out on the calendar made me accountable and made it fact – things on the calendar will happen.
Lastly, I didn’t think past the next run. If it was Monday evening and I was going running on Wednesday I wouldn’t think about that run until just before, and didn’t think about Friday or Saturday’s run either – just the next one. At the start of April it would have been overwhelming to think of 12 runs in front of me so instead I worked through them, one by one and then one week at a time.
Over this month I have run more consistently and more regularly than I have since I started running. Spring has given me the boost I needed to make running a habit and cement it into my routine. Through the rest of the year it has been easy to let bad weather and dark evenings stop me from getting out but spring holds less excuses.
I have loved taking part in this challenge and it has really made me rethink the goals I set myself and when I set them too. Dr Thomas Webb, social psychologist and Chair of the Institute of Inertia said:
“In January people have a tendency to jump on the ‘new year, new you’ bandwagon. Many of us follow the crowd and get swept up in the enthusiasm around making New Year’s resolutions. However, often the goals that we set are unrealistic, are not supported by a clear plan of action or an understanding of the task at hand – in short, it’s a recipe for failure.”
I cannot help but agree. In future I will be saving my resolutions for spring and in doing so I hope they will be less destined to fail. Also working through their own spring challenges were Jen from Mum in the Mad House, Colette from We’re Going on an Adventure and Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family – make sure you check out their blogs to see how they got on with their own spring goals.