I recently went for a run every day in November. I’ve run pretty regularly for the last ten years, with varying degrees of consistency, speed, and distance, but I’m pretty confident in saying I’ve never run 30 days in a row.
While running itself is not for everybody, and following a mindless loop in Central Park doesn’t make me some sort of guru, I do think there are some lessons I’ve taken away from how I selected that goal, achieved it, and why I’ll continue to use this framework in the future. In case at least one person cares, I’ll blog about it.
How to select a goal
I chose running. And I chose consistency over a long-ish time period. This made the goal attainable - lacing up runners each day is easy if you know you only need to step outside the door, increase your heart rate, and you’ve checked the box for that day. I also chose running because it was something I would need to do as opposed to something I would need to avoid doing. To me, there’s a massive difference, at least in mindset, and often in practicality of adding something to your life rather than removing something.
For example, if you wanted to lose 5 pounds over a month, it seems way more enjoyable to say “I’m going to add a salad to every meal I have at home” rather than say “I’m going to cut out chicken wings”. The result may be the same - I realize that adding veggies may mean less room for chicken - but the mindset is different. Also, you’ll often see some domino benefits when you select an “add-on” goal like this. For example, the fact I knew I had to wake up to run every day meant I probably got more sleep than normal, drank less alcohol, and was slightly more productive with my time.
Secondly, I already like running. Trying to build a habit or achieve a goal on an activity that you’re not the least bit passionate about is like trying to push a rock up a mountain. It will be zero fun the entire time and will be much more likely to give your ears permission to hear excuses.
Why I succeeded
Everyone reading this has achieved goals before, so I’m sure everyone has their methods. My catalyst for this particular achievement won’t apply to every goal that one aspires to, but it does (or did for me) an amazing job of inspiring consistency.
A running influencer I recently started following who ran across America this year, has been on a 5+ year streak of running every day. He uses the slogan “No matter the circumstances” and I absolutely love it.
Whenever I felt tired on a Wednesday morning when the 6:40am alarm went off, or had one too many beers the night before a long Saturday run, or struggled to recover from my booster shot (funnily enough on the last day of the month!) I would mutter those four words to myself, and it never allowed for an excuse to creep its way into my mind. I just threw on my shoes and headphones and walked out the door.
Why consistency rules
I had no distance or speed goals for the month, just the goal of getting outside each day (or on a treadmill once in the dark in California). I really like goals based on consistency because most accomplishments are just a result of the accumulation of many small, consistent actions. If you don’t already follow James Clear, you should. He provides some of the best insights on habit formation; while there are countless, scientifically-backed tidbits he provides, they all have the same over-arching theme: Long-lasting, environment-based actions are what build habits, and ultimately, create change.
When you decide on a goal (whether short-term or long-term), make it about showing up. If you want to lose 10 lbs., change the goal to walk around the block three times per day. If you want to drink less alcohol, drink 3L of water each day. If you want to watch less TV, read one chapter in the morning and read one chapter in the evening. Keep showing up….No matter the circumstances. :)
Thanks for reading,