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Here we go!  A clean slate and a new start.  Anything you dream of can be yours... are you ready to sacrifice what you are for what you want to become?  This year can be the same as the last OR you can make a choice to accomplish those goals you have been wanting for so long.  YOU have the power to make this life what you want it, but you have to create a plan and you have to decide you are worth your greatest goals. How to Complete Your 2016 Goal:

  1. First things first... decide on your big goal for the year.  Is it a marathon, a trail race, Ironman, climb a mountain, travel abroad, lose 20 pounds, your first 5k, to walk 20 minutes each day?  What is it you want to change or acquire?  Take out a piece of paper and write down every goal you ever wanted to accomplish, I mean ever!  Even if you don't think it is going to be possible, write it down!  In 2011, one of my goals was to visit another country.  I was a graduate student with a full-time job, the thought of visiting another country, much less taking a road trip to Wisconsin, seemed close to impossible. However, 2011, ended up being the year I took a volunteer opportunity in Rio de Janeiro, to join a soccer camp and help teach in a classroom.  It was an incredible experience that I don't think I would have ever thought would become a reality, had I not listed it as a goal earlier that year.  It has been said, that writing down your goals can lead to a 95% higher chance of achieving the goal!  Now from the goals you listed, rewrite the ones that you could accomplish this year.  Then start looking at time frames and decide on your number one goal.  Keep this page handy!  Once you decide on what it is you want to accomplish (#1 goal), write it down with a time and date. Ex: On June 4, 2016, I will run a 100 miler at the Kettle Moraine race. Now, we work backwards from this date.  What training and races will you need to complete in order to achieve your goal?  Create a rough outline.  Ex: If I would like to complete 100 miles by June 4th, I know I need to put certain races (with specific distances) in my calendar leading up to this date.  Working backwards from your top goal, will allow you the preparation you need to complete your goal.  Now it's time to go to the mattresses! (Do you know what that's from?)
  2. Creating measurable steps towards your goal; aka training!  Once you have your specific goal mapped out, your training plan can be produced.  Research is incredibly important!  Hours have been spent looking at various races and the training that is necessary to get yourself to the finish line.  Putting a training plan together for yourself can be fun!  Begin thinking about what you can do today to get to your goal?  Review training plans online, websites, stories from people who have accomplished the goal you have created for yourself.  How did they get there?  How can you adapt this training to your lifestyle?  I typically find a training plan online that aligns with my races and then adapt it to my current fitness and schedule.  If I know I hate 5am workouts, then I should be planning my training sessions for the evenings.  That means I probably won't be hitting up bowling night on Wednesdays and $2 beer Tuesdays. "In order to achieve something you have never achieved before, you have to do things you have never done before."  What is it you need to map out to achieve your goal? Financials, weightlifting, nutrition, time?  Make adjustments that are realistic and that can be achieved over time.  Then decide to commit and begin.  You do not need to wait until Monday or February or until you buy that one thing that will make everything easier. Start today and decide that you are committing to this goal.
  3. Track your progress. There are plenty of tools out there to keep track of your training.  You do not need anything super techy or expensive.  A simple free phone app can track your training and nutrition.  Grab a notebook from the junk drawer to track your goals, google docs or all the above!  Keeping a journal or a simple google document available through your G-mail, is an easy way to track your goals.  It is a fun and convenient way to reflect on your training throughout the year and also gives insight to planning what is next.  There is nothing wrong with altering this document throughout the year to fit your needs.  I personally, use all of these strategies, but my favorite and most consistent use of tracking my training is my planner and my believe journal. It allows me to track not only what training I have completed, but also how I felt, the weather, things getting in my way and ways to stay motivated.  It is crucial to keep track of your progress to achieve your goal.  "A goal without a plan, is just a wish."
  4. Share your goals!  Don't be afraid to state your goals loud and proud.  Surprisingly, the most resistance you may hear is from your closest friends and relatives.  Why?  Because, you're doing something you have never done before and that scares people.  They can either support you with positive words and optimism or they might not hear much from you this year.   You are about to do big things!  That quote by Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness, is still one of my favorites; "People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you you can't do it."  Don't let anyone deter you from what you want.  Find the people that believe in you.  Sharing your goals will also make you more accountable.  People will want to ask you how your training is going, they will want to know what you are doing to achieve your goal and will want to hear about your plan.  All of these are great conversations to be having and allow you clarity in the pursuit of your goal.  You also never know who you might be inspiring... your friends, your children, parents, husband, girlfriend or just someone who came across your social media.  Sharing is also a way to learn.  In 2009, after I signed up for the Ironman Madison, I had no idea what I was doing!  However, I shared my plan in conversation and that led me to a lot of triathletes with an abundance of information.  They let me in on what I should be doing to prepare and they even invited me to several group workouts, which proved to be crucial in my training!  When I ran my first ultramarathon, a 50k, everyone thought I was saying 5k wrong.  How could you possibly run 31 miles?  Then on the trail, I met a man from France who told me about a 300 mile race he does in Europe for fun.  You begin to realize you're not only not insane, but you're a couch potato compared to these awe inspiring maniacs out in the field.  You have to start somewhere and you never know where that start could lead you.
  5. Find motivation and inspiration.  One of the biggest pieces to achieving success is consistently finding the motivation to pursue your goal.  These goals aren't easy; hence why they haven't been achieved yet.  Let me let you in on a secret, successful people don't achieve their dreams by luck; they achieve them because they work harder than anybody else. No excuses.  You are going to need to work harder this year than you ever have before.  Look for people you can turn to as your role models.  Follow inspirational runners, coaches and athletes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Social media can be a powerful tool in motivating and inspiring  you.  Find local and international stories that inspire you on various news outlets.  Search Pinterest for inspirational quotes and YouTube for motivational videos.  Post your goal somewhere you will see it every single day!  Everything you do should align to your goal.  Look at each day as a challenge that you need to overcome.  Stay focused and when you miss a workout, skip a day or get off track; realign yourself and never give up.

Every minute that passes you are closer to dying. It's true.  That quote, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" is how you need to look at life.  Create a mantra for yourself, a phrase you can tell yourself when you're tired, sick of the day or just tempted to quit.  This year, I am using the phrase, "No excuses."  There are days when I feel so busy and so tired, that I end up slacking on my workouts, nutrition and overall well-being, but that doesn't do me any favors.  This year, no excuses. Never give up on your dreams and never forget how great you are!

Dream big.  Set goals.  Be great!  And, always adventure well.

Need more motivation? Watch now.

If you'd like to follow along with my 100 mile training (#1 goal), check my Instagram out @ashleymnolan

Vince Lombardi Jr.