Assessing 2019 Goals

We still have a few more weeks left in 2019, and I can’t believe it. This year flew by a lot faster than I care to admit. I was on the phone with a friend the other day, and they pointed out how close to the holidays we were. I realized I was in denial, but as much as I would like to think there are more weeks left in 2019, we are nearing the end.

To that end, I am trying to get ahead with my goals for 2020. But before I do that, I have to begin the process of assessing how my 2019 went. Before the commotion of the holidays is upon us, I encourage you also to take a few minutes to determine how your 2019 went. It might surprise you and give you a little extra pep going into the holiday.

My Self-Assessment

I created one primary goal and four minor goals that would work to help me achieve my main goal. I decided to keep it simple this year, as I was doing something I’ve never done before: work to stick to my goals.

For those signed up for the newsletter, what I am about to list out isn’t news. I kept my 2019 goals “private” amongst those who follow the MS Mommy Blog newsletter, but at the end of the year, I have no qualms about sharing them now. My primary goal for 2019: to lose 10 pounds over the year. My four minor goals to help me achieve this:

  1. Meal planning
  2. More cross-training
  3. Run a faster half marathon
  4. Work towards being less stressed overall

Surprisingly(?), I found a measure of success in four of my five goals. My primary goal: on January 5th, I recorded my weight at 141 pounds. As of a few days ago, I recorded my weight at 130 pounds, a weight I’ve held steady for several weeks. I had two reasons for the weight loss goal: one, to get me solidly in the healthy weight range according to the BMI. Two, to help me run faster races to help me achieve personal records.

I believe that the success of this primary goal is due to creating four smaller goals that worked towards it. Each one forced me to be mindful of my eating and exercise habits, and working towards a faster half marathon meant I needed to pull my weight down.

Assessing My Minor Goals

Meal planning: I initially followed a Pinterest version of meal planning that kept everything in a central physical location, but it proved to be cumbersome to maintain. I found more success in creating an online spreadsheet where I could link recipes and pull together a shopping list. By adapting my meal planning, it allowed me to continue to find success.

More cross-training: This is another goal that morphed from the original plan into something more feasible. I figured I would do yoga or lift weights on my non-running days, but as I joined several running groups and followed a training plan, I found that my cross-training plan changed. Instead, I started doing extra runs, intervals, and sprints, which engaged muscle groups I usually don’t use in my long-runs. I still need to start incorporating strength training, but this was more manageable at the time.

Faster half marathon: By far, the most straightforward goal for me to measure success. My fastest half marathon when I made these goals was 2:34:59. Anything below that would be a success. In November, I ran a half marathon at 2:07:28. I very clearly succeeded in achieving this goal.

Less stress: This is the one goal that I am not sure if I can count as a success. In addition to being hard to measure, the end of the year has been rather stressful for me. Besides losing Lytton, I experienced several non-MS health issues, fell while running, family stress, falling behind on the blog, and a string of colds going through the household. All within a month. The other day I was extremely testy with Ash for no discernible reason and could not get myself to calm down. If I assessed this goal back in August, I would say that I achieved it, but when the going got tough, I started to stress out. Of all the goals, this one I will have to work on continuously.

Would I say I achieved my goals? Yes. But in doing so, I found that I needed to adapt, adjust, and reflect throughout the year. Previously, I was a person who was rigid in my goals. Success only measured by how closely I kept to my original targets. When I missed making those targets, I got discouraged and gave up, rather than taking the time to figure out why I was missing the targets. Often, it was because I wasn’t realistic in my goal, adaptable in how I achieved the goal, and not patient enough.

Patience is the main takeaway this year for me. Between February and June, I found my weight loss stalled at 136. To go four months, fluctuating between 136 and 140, was discouraging. I decided that since I lived most of my life in the 150 range, it would take a while to bring myself down to my goal weight. Rather than giving in to the discouragement I felt, I found ways to push through this plateau. Once I started to see my weight go down again, I knew I hit upon success and continued forward.

For 2019, I used the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal-setting, which helped me figure out the specifics of my goal. It kept me focused, versus the wishy-washy way I set my goals each year. 

My goals before 2019 consisted of short sentences: I want to lose weight. This year, I said: I want to lose & maintain 10 lb weight loss. I proceeded to answer the following questions raised by the S.M.A.R.T. method:

  • Specific: I want to lose the final pounds in my wellness journey
  • Measurable: When I’ve hit the specified number on the scale
  • Achievable: Through healthy eating and healthy amounts of exercise
  • Relevant: This will get me down to a weight that will help me run faster with less physical stress
  • Timely: By the end of December 2019

Taking what I’ve learned this year, for 2020, I will follow the basic goal creation set up I made for myself: one primary goal and several minor goals to help me achieve it. I will fit these goals within the S.M.A.R.T. model and incorporate adaptability, self-awareness, and patience to the goals. I think I will see continued success in 2020 by doing it this way.

Self-Assessment of 2019

What goals did you make for yourself at the beginning of 2019? How well did you achieve them?

Self-assessment of goals is rather simple. But answering the questions is hard. For me, admitting that I haven’t stuck to my “lower stress” goal is difficult. Everyone wants to say they succeed. Ignoring the goals when we miss them is easier than admitting to “defeat.” 

If we want to learn, grow, and eventually achieve our goals, then we have to be honest in our self-assessment. Admit the moments you dropped the ball, and celebrate the moments you reached a goal. Below are some questions to ask about 2019.

  1. Look at the goals you set for yourself for the year. 
    1. How were they recorded? Did you write them down someplace, or did you keep them in your head?
    2. How specific were the goals? Were they simple, or did you take the time to “plan” them out?
  2. Did you achieve these goals, and to what extent? 
    1. How do you measure success?
    2. Where do the goals fall on a sliding scale? 0- not achieved, and 5- completed
    3. What helped you achieve these goals? Were you adaptable, patient, or persistent?
    4. How do you feel achieving these goals?
  3. Did I miss any of my goals?
    1. Why do I think I missed these goals?
    2. How can I find a way to make the goals more: specific, focused, adaptable, or realistic?
    3. What did I learn about myself?
    4. How do I feel about missing goals?
  4. Do I want to carry any of these goals into the new year?
    1. If I achieved a goal, what’s the next step?
    2. If I missed a goal, how can I adjust it for success?
  5. How do these goals fit into my quality of life? Will they improve it, or will trying to achieve them add to my stress?

One final point I want to make about missing goals. I keep bringing it up because I know how hard it is to experience a misstep. But reframe your mindset over the matter. Many articles about bombing goals use the words “fail,” “failure,” and “failed.” 

There is no failure when it comes to your personal goals.

To say that you failed implies there’s a right way to go about your goals and the wrong way. There are effective ways to achieve your goals and less effective ones, but never a wrong way to go about it. By reframing your mindset to be about effectiveness, it allows you to assess why you were successful or not objectively. 

As we wind down the year, take a few moments to see how 2019 went. One thing I have to do is accept that while the last few months were among the most stressful for me, it is not indicative of how the year went overall. The same is for you: if you had rough periods, but the year overall went well, then count it as a decent year.  

Who knows, maybe 2020 will be even better.

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