Sunday, January 19, 2014

Setting goals for 2014: a year of travel, fitness, and fun

Ah, January: the month when, during the long, dark days of winter, we set goals for the year ahead, resolving to accomplish more than we did the year before.

For me, setting goals is more enjoyable than resolutions. While they are, in essence, the same idea, a "resolution" comes with a tinge of negativity—you resolve to do something better, fix something in your life, or correct a bad habit. A goal, on the other hand, is more optimistic. It can include corrections, sure, but I feel it's more thinking about what positive change you want to make.

So, I set New Year's Goals for the year ahead.

It helps me be productive when my goals are measurable. For example, rather than just "exercise more," in the past, I've said I wanted to exercise at least four days per week. It's easier (or harder, depending on your view) to hold myself accountable when the goal is specific. It worked for me, and I now find myself getting a full workout six or even seven days a week.

Oftentimes, my challenge is not sticking with it, but rather knowing when to stop before I get burned out. Discipline is a virtue, for sure, but so is adaptability.

The year is already off to a great start, so my list of goals this year is ambitious!

1. Take advantage of traveling for work. I love my job, and I'm fortunate to have clients located in interesting places: St. Petersburg, FL; Knoxville, TN; and I just gained a new client in New York City. My goal this year is to take advantage of these trips (and the fact that the transportation is covered!) by extending them for personal time. Last week—just 12 days into the new year—I did just that with a trip to Florida. I flew down a day early for the meeting and got an extra afternoon in the sunshine, on the beach. It was glorious!

2. Get out of the office and work remotely. A goal that complements #1 above, this one also includes travel. All I need to be able to do my job is a good wi-fi connection and cell reception. I'm sure I won't always have that flexibility, so I want to take advantage of this while I can. I may visit Chase in Steamboat Springs or my girlfriends in Boston—all the while working during the day while they each work, as well.

3. Walk 500 miles. I keep track of my exercise, logging distance, time, and activity. Each year, I tally the distance traveled (whether on foot or bike), and I love seeing how much I've accomplished that year. I didn't have a specific goal for mileage in 2013, but when I tallied it up, I realized I'd unknowingly increased my distance by 121+ miles—that's 32% more than in 2012! That gave me motivation for a new goal in 2014: I want to cover 500 miles in workouts. I say "in workouts" because I wear a Fitbit Zip to track my daily steps, but I want these 500 miles to come from conscious effort... not trips back and forth to the break room at work.

When I break it down, it comes to 42 miles per month, or 13 days of at least 3.1 miles (a 5k) in that time. Definitely doable. Just yesterday, I registered to walk the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May. During my time as a 500 Festival Princess, I worked the event as a volunteer, but I've never actually participated. I'll knock out a life-list item and get closer to my 500-mile goal in one event!

4. Build strength through mini challenges. This goal popped up after I found a plan to accomplish a five-minute plank in 30 days. At first I thought, "Hold a plank for five minutes?!" but seeing it planned out in daily segments made it feel much more achievable. I started January 1 and am on track so far! I already have my next challenge planned—50 pushups in 4 weeks—and I'm sure I can find more to do during the year.

5. Be more musical: get a piano and play it. I started playing piano when I was in early elementary school, but over the past few years, I've become pretty rusty. So this year, I want to get a piano for myself—not a keyboard, but a true, upright piano—and brush up on my skills.

6. Read 26 books. Just before the new year rolled around, I started seeing and hearing about this local challenge—but it wasn't until today that I decided to commit to it. A writer for the Indianapolis Star, Michael Anthony Adams, started #Read26Indy to set the goal of reading 26 books in 2014 (one every two weeks) for himself while also using it to get to know more people in Indianapolis (he's new to the area). Readers will use the hashtag on Twitter and a group on Goodreads to share their progress and cheer each other on. I read 23 books in 2013, so adding another three is challenging but doable!

I'm looking forward to 2014 being a year filled with new experiences and accomplishments, and these goals will help me get there. Now it's your turn: what goals have you set for yourself this year?