Fall into Change: Rock the Holidays with Goal Setting

T.G.I.F. Thank God it's Fall. I don't know about you, but for the past few months I've drudged through the hot Texas summer and counted down the days until the most wonderful time of the year, fall running season. The crisp cool air is quite a contrast to the stifling Texas summers we've been enduring. I love to throw on a light sweat shirt (with shorts, of course) for a cool autumn morning run. Just as the trees shed their leaves, autumn feels like the perfect opportunity to shed our bad habits, our negative thinking and succumb to the pull of the pavement. October is the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2016. Have you set your goals for October through December yet? 

I look at Autumn as the perfect opportunity to fall into change. We are about to embark on the craziness of the holidays. colder weather and a shift in our daily lives. Our focus tends to change to parties, families and fun, which are all wonderful things as long as we manage them well. 

A lot of people use this time of year as an excuse to overindulge or lose focus on their goals. They say that they'll enjoy the holidays and start over in January. But what if you can still enjoy the holidays (because being fit and healthy makes life more enjoyable overall), remain focused and approach January even closer to your goals? Sounds great, right?

People make New Year resolutions in January and many are abandoned by March 1st. What if you make your goals now and give yourself these last three months to work on yourself. When January 1st arrives you can reassess what is working, what is not working and reevaluate your goals, rather than start all over. 

Let's talk goal setting. The S.M.A.R.T goal is a concept that has been around for a long time because it is effective strategy for goal setting. When you think through your goals and set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed you are setting yourself up to win.



It is not enough to say that your goal is to lose weight, to run faster or get stronger. It is important to set a specific goal, otherwise how will you know if you hit your goal or not? A specific goal would be to lose 10 lbs, to run a 9 minute mile for a 5k or a 150 lb deadlift. The more specific the better.


Want to run faster? Commit to running for 30 minutes 3 times a week plus 2 speed training sessions and one full body strength training session a week (as an example). You can easily measure if you if reached those goals. Your goal should be something you can review on a weekly basis and be able to determine if you are making progress. 


Make sure your goal is attainable. It you want to run a full marathon, but you don't have several free hours once a week for long run training, you are not choosing an attainable goal. Are you able to make the lifestyle changes (big or small) required to meet your goal? Think about the actions you need to take to meet your goal and decide if you are willing and able to achieve them. You first need to believe you can achieve your goals.


If you don't set realistic goals you are setting yourself up for failure before you even start. If your goal is to lose 30 lbs in one month, or increase your half marathon time by 30 minutes in 30 days, your goals may be too aggressive. Nothing wrong with big goals and dreams but if you set a goal that is not realistic or sustainable then you are setting yourself up for failure. Small progressive goals will snowball into big results with consistent action. Slow and steady progression over time wins the goal. 


Give yourself a time frame to achieve your goal. In this case, we are talking October-December. What can you realistically achieve in 90 days? Without a time goal, you may always fall back into the "I'll start Monday" or "hard-core starts tomorrow"mindset. (I've been guilty of this in my own goal setting.) Give yourself a deadline to instill a sense of urgency with your goals.

Here is an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. You are stating what your specific goals are, what will you do to reach them and in what time frame. With S.M.A.R.T goals it is very easy to track day by day, week by week if you are achieving your goals. If you are not, you can re-evaluate what needs to change and make adjustments along the way. 

I am going to lose 8 lbs and improve my 5k time by 3 minutes in 90 days. I will track my calories in My Fitness Pal to stay slightly under calorie maintenance level, pack my lunch for work and cook healthy dinners at home. I will run 3-5 days a week with 2 speed work training days and one full body strength training day. I will rest 1-2 days a week and aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night for proper recovery.



Write your goals down. Yes, on paper. Write them often. Read them often. Read or write them as soon as you wake up and right before bed. Read them aloud. Post them somewhere you see them throughout the day. Change your computer log-in password to your major goal. How many times a day do you type your password? My password at work for all of 2015 was IamaCPTJuly15 because my goal was to pass my (CPT) certified personal trainer test in July of 2015. (This is no longer my password anywhere so don't try to hack me. ha ha.)

Tell your family and friends.

Find an accountability partner in real life or online. Join an online community.

Focus on the small daily actions it will take to achieve your goals. Take it day by day. 

Celebrate small achievements. 

Set bare minimum goals that you just can't miss. Build on those goals as time progresses.

Make your goals positive. Instead of stating you will give up fried foods (negative), state you will eat healthy foods mostly from nature 85% of the time (positive). 


What do you think? Do you ever set 4th quarter goals? It helps me to stay on track through the holidays when I set my intentions in October for the rest of the year. Have questions? Need help with goal setting? Have some big fourth quarter goals? I'd love to hear about it in comments.

We can do this together. 

Have questions? Leave them in the comments or be a part of my new series "Ask the Trainer" and have your questions answered in a future blog post.

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Coach Lea

I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.