Handy tips for goal-setting and staying motivated!

This weekend was a bit of a special one, as Dad laced up his running shoes and joined me for his first run since his heart operation last year. We headed out into the cold and the drizzle (standard Devon) on Sunday afternoon, and managed a whole mile – up a couple of nasty hills, too! And all after a hilly 3.5-mile country walk the day before. What a legend! We’re already planning some autumn races, and Dad’s got some ambitious time goals – which my brother (bit of a fitness guru!) will be helping him to train for.

My parents have always inspired me to dream big and push myself, and seeing how far my Dad has come in the past few months really shows just how much you can achieve if you’re determined enough.

Devon Walk and Run with Dad

My lovely Dad – and a successful mile 1! Onwards and upwards from here!

It brought to mind a motivational talk I attended last month, which was all about goal setting and motivational techniques. Pretty fitting for a marathon runner, eh? 😉

The speaker – Marcus Child – raised some very interesting points, so I thought I’d share a couple with you. If you’ve got a goal or an aspiration in mind, or want a little inspiration, read on!

When you’re working towards something for weeks, months, even years on end, it’s easy to lose sight of where you’re going. For me, it’s marathon training – months of solo runs in the cold and the dark, and constant thoughts of ‘why are you doing this to yourself again!?’

To keep yourself on track over a long period of time, it’s important to keep your goal in the front of your mind. To remember why you’re doing what you’re doing – what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it. And the best way to do that is to visualise it.

In order to achieve big, scary goals, you need to convince yourself that you CAN. This is where visualisation comes in. But what does that really mean?

We were advised to do more than just picture ourselves achieving our goals. We were told to see it, hear it, and feel it, as if it’s already happened. To tap in to all of those senses and paint a vivid picture in our mind.

Take a marathon, for example. See the finish line, the crowds, the smiling faces of your supporters, the timing mat. Hear them cheering you to the finish, hear the commentator over the loudspeakers, and think about how it’ll feel when that medal is slipped over your head. Feel the satisfying ache in your legs, your heart pounding, the salt on your face. And if you’ve got a time goal in mind, what will that clock display as you cross the line? How will you feel when you stop your watch and catch your breath, and know that you’ve DONE it?

Remind yourself of that goal before you go to sleep. Wake up to that image each morning. Put a picture on your wall, write your goal on a post-it note and stick it above your bed, or on your fridge – wherever you’ll see it. Tell yourself you CAN, and imagine that you already have. Secure that image in your mind, and replay it over and over, as if it’s a memory.

Maintaining that purpose, that vision, that mental image over time is crucial. And whilst it can be difficult, a very simple piece of advice we were given is this:

Sleep on it.

How many times have you heard that little nugget of wisdom over the years?

But there’s a definite theory behind it, and it’s based on your ‘left’ and ‘right’ brain. As the speaker put it, your left brain asks the questions, and your right brain finds the answers.

How many times have you tried to work out a solution to a problem, only for the answer to come to you as you’re drifting off or waking up? When do you feel most inspired? For most, it’s when you’re not actively thinking about something. Drifting off to sleep, standing in the shower, running or cycling or driving or ironing…

And what do all of these situations have in common? Answer: The ‘right’ (subconscious) brain is fired up.

Based on this left/right brain theory, if you set your intention(s) before bed, your brain will then secure that image in your subconscious. By the time race day rolls round (if it’s a race you’re aiming for!), you might still feel a bit nervous, but you’ll also feel a little bit more confident, capable, and excited. (Hopefully!)

We all live under our capacity, which means we never know what we’re capable of until we push ourselves. Dare to dream big.

In the words of Nelson Mandela:

It always seems impossible until it’s done

So go do it.

– – –

My big scary goal is to run a marathon in every country in Europe. (Gulp!)

What’s yours?

– – –

Do you have any big goals on the horizon? How are you keeping yourself motivated?

If you like the ideas in this post, be sure to check out Marcus Child’s website – and download some of his MP3s! He presents it all far better than I do, and will have you fired up in no time!

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