The Secret to Achieving Your Goals? Picking a Date and Committing

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals? Picking a Date and Committing

By Diana Kelly Levey

You found a Spartan race you want to compete in and paid the entrance fee, but have you determined what you want to accomplish in that race? And have you shared your goal with a friend? Increase your odds of reaching that achievement by applying commitment practices to your daily routine.

To help you tap into the power of commitment and reach future goals, we talked to Dr. Lara Pence, PsyD, and Stephen Gonzalez, Ph.D., Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) and Association for Applied Sport Psychology executive board member.

Learn why committing to a specific goal helps you reach it and how to execute with intentionality.

Related: 5 Things Healthy People Do Every Day

Why Commit?

Goals, or even basic intentions, are important because without them, where do you direct behavior? says Gonzalez. “If I gave you a basketball without a hoop to shoot at, where would you shoot? Goals are targets for where we want to direct behaviors and actions.” When you commit, you actually execute.

Commit To A Goal That’s Best For You And Is Achievable

“When I'm working with clients, and one of the first things that I'll ask them when we talk about goal setting is, ‘Does that goal align with your values?’” says Pence. It’s important to make sure what you’re aiming for is what you really want—not what a friend is working on—and one you can realistically achieve.

“I also tell clients to ask themselves, ‘How does this goal elevate you as an individual and elevate your contribution on this planet?’” says Pence. “One of the things I think people stumble with when making a commitment is connecting to a purpose—having an emotionally-guided goal can help you dig deeper when motivation wanes,” she says. While training for a Spartan obstacle course race, you’ll likely develop grit and persistence, and connect with other people—working towards those higher purposes can give you a boost when you’re tired of training or feeling unmotivated.

Related: Your Unbreakable Day: Proper Goal Setting, Getting DEKAFIT, and 10 Essential Books to Read

Choose A Target Date

A date is that definitive line in the sand as to when something will happen or be completed and without it, it’s very easy to ditch accountability. “There’s an old saying that ‘the easiest way to cure procrastination is to have a due date,’” says Gonzalez. If you haven’t pulled the trigger on signing up for your next obstacle course race, whip out your credit card and find a race here.

Write It Down And Share Your Execution Plan

An often-cited study out of Dominican University of California found that when people wrote down a specific goal, they were nearly 50 percent more likely to achieve it than those who didn’t jot it down. In fact, study subjects who wrote down their intentions, formulated steps on how to achieve their commitment, sent that goal to a friend and updated the friend with weekly progress reports were the most likely to achieve their goals.

Pence recommends her clients write their goal down every morning. “The repetition of writing something down feeds into what we know about neuroscience,” she says. “The more we expose ourselves to something, the more real it becomes, and the more likely it is to occur.”

Practice Mindfulness To Lighten The Load

Taking a mindfulness approach to goal setting may improve your overall performance and reduce anxiety, according to research.

“One of the shadow sides of goal setting is the fact that high and potentially unattainable goals can cause us to stress, feel anxious, or constantly ruminate on our goals,” says Gonzalez. Perhaps you’re nursing a bad cold a few weeks before your race and fret that you won’t be able to PR. Mindfulness can help create space and awareness when you find yourself worrying about a goal, Gonzalez says. “Ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I can do right now?’” If not, then table your worries. If yes, take action,” he advises. Discover the power of five minutes of meditation.

Related: Mindfulness Exercises 101 | Spartan Mind

Prepare For Obstacles

Sure, you’re training for obstacles you’ll face in your next race, but do you have a plan in place for external or internal factors (hello, negative self-talk) that threaten to derail you? Having an approach of “when, then” thinking is so important for goal setting, says Gonzalez. “There are a lot of situations you can prepare for by coming up with contingency plans. For example, if I run outside and conditions are dangerously icy or it’s pouring, I could say, ‘When the weather is bad, then I will do a bodyweight routine at home instead.’”

What are you committing to next? Share your goal with our community on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Amp up your fitness and wellness routine NOW. Click here to find a Spartan Race close to you!