It’s 2020! The start of a new year AND a new decade!
LADIES! Let’s RIDE!
I listen to a lot of personal development podcasts, and one thing that everyone is discussing right now is how to set goals for 2020, what kinds of goals to set, how to crush your goals…GOALS GOALS GOALS!
It can get overwhelming VERY quickly. I am not going to lie, my head is spinning. Am I supposed to set big goals? Impossible goals? SMART goals? Small, measurable goals? What is realistic? What is attainable? What makes sense? What doesn’t?
How on earth am I supposed to find the time to actually do all of this with a full-time job and a family? Do I set one big goal? A bunch of small ones? A bunch of big ones? What the heck even IS an impossible goal? Once I figure all of this out, how do I actually translate it into cycling specific goals?
In this article I will discuss 5 simple, straightforward steps that will help you accomplish your cycling goals.
Choose your goal! Make it something big!
Consider the time frame of your goal. Ya gotta know when you’re doing it. Even if you don’t meet that time frame, you can still complete the goal.
Share that goal! Sharing goals makes us that much more likely to complete them.
Make a plan. How are you going to do it? Schedule it and write it down.
Do the Thing! Stay motivated by identifying and remembering your reason for creating this darn goal in the first place!
In addition to outlining these five steps, along the way I will also share my cycling goals, and we can be accountability buddies! I want you to know this is absolutely doable and manageable.
I firmly believe that if I can do this, you can too. I am the queen of excuses, putting things off, setting goals, and not following through. That will NOT be happening this time, I promise you. And I am hoping that you are making that exact same promise to YOURSELF. That is really the only way this is going to happen.
You are absolutely awesome, and you are worth it. Believe it!
Now, let’s jump into the 5 simple steps that will help you make your cycling goals a reality.
1. Choose Your Goal!
Decide if you want to focus on a SMART Goal or an Impossible Goal (Hint! Impossible Goals are the Way to Go!)
What is a SMART goal? SMART goals have been around for some time, and have been suggested by many as a means to success. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The idea here is to not overwhelm yourself by trying to do something that is really not possible, but to know exactly what you want to do, when you want it done, and know how you have accomplished this task.
For example, a SMART cycling goal could be to ride 500 miles on the road in the year 2020. This is a specific, measurable, attainable goal for many beginner road cyclists. There are 52 weeks in a year, so that is a little under 10 miles per week. When I first got my road bike I would ride about 5 miles up and down my street with rather moderate effort.
I rode a mile, then another, then another. Each time I rode I tried to go a little bit further. Before I knew it I was regularly riding 15-20 miles in one ride without even thinking about it, so 10 miles per week as a goal is actually pretty reasonable, and you can feel pretty darn good about this accomplishment!
The problem with SMART goals sometimes is that there is so much emphasis on making sure that the goal is achievable that it sometimes holds us back from really reaching for what we actually want. I figured out pretty quickly that it’s no big deal for me to ride 500 miles a year.
An alternative to SMART goals is an IMPOSSIBLE GOAL.
What is an Impossible Goal? Think BIG, my friend. HUGE! In other words, imagine something that you really, really want to achieve that seems relatively impossible. This has to be something that is important and exciting for you. Something that gets you pumped UP!
Unlike SMART goals, impossible goals are a little more open ended in terms of the time frame/completion, and whereas SMART goals emphasize being realistic, impossible goals actually encourage you to reach a bit further and do something that is truly amazing. What is something HUGE that you would love to accomplish?
For me, an example of an impossible cycling goal would be to complete a gran fondo (100 km, approximately 75 miles) when you have never cycled before. That is an AWESOME goal for a brand new cyclist!
My own Impossible Cycling Goal of 2020 is to complete a century ride (100 miles) with at least a 15 mph average and 2000-2500 feet of climbing. So far my longest ride ever is 50 miles…so 100 miles seems pretty impossible!
Also, my average speed right now on much shorter rides is closer to 14 mph, so averaging 15 mph on a 100 mile ride seems pretty darn impossible. I am a little scared. I am a LOT excited. I know I can do this!!! If I can’t do it in 2020, I will do it in 2021. If I can’t do it in 2021…well you get where I am going with this. I am going to do little things, every day, to bring me closer and closer to this seemingly impossible goal.
When trying to decide between SMART and Impossible Goals, you really need to think about you, your personality, and what works best for you. You may just know, deep down, that in order for this to work you need to make small changes. That’s not a terrible thing!
However, a lot of personal development authorities have moved from SMART goals to encouraging Impossible Goals because they are the sort of goals that scare you a little bit but excite you enough to accomplish BIG things! With impossible goals it is less about the time-frame (such as I must do this in one year and if I don’t I fail), and more about making sure that each and every day you do something, however small, to move towards your goal.
For example, today I know that I am not going to have time to ride, so I instead am focusing on nutrition and planning healthier meals to better fuel my body for future rides. I am a little heavier than I was last season (as a result of some not-so-healthy choices over the holidays), and I know that it is going to be easier to complete my century if I am a little bit lighter. Meeting my impossible goal doesn’t mean just grinding out workouts on the bike this winter; I need to make other changes too!
I think it’s very important to mention that I am doing this from a place of love and appreciation for what my body can DO, not what it looks like, or any negative emotions surrounding my weight.
I have learned that my body is capable of way more than I ever thought possible, and this is such an amazing feeling. I absolutely love my body and want to do right by it and give it the tools it needs to accomplish my goal.
Also, I should say that achieving an impossible goal involves a number of smaller goals or smaller actions. These lead to developing habits that over time compound to great achievements.
For example, your goal today may be to complete that training ride that makes you just that much stronger and brings you that much closer to accomplishing your big, impossible goal. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging this and celebrating these successes along the way! Each smaller goal is bringing you that much closer to achieving your impossible goal!
Note: When you choose to focus on impossible goals you really should do one impossible goal at a time. It might be difficult to make a million dollars, train for a gran fondo, get married, and completely revamp your entire relationship with food all at once in 2020. Just sayin’.
2. Consider the time frame of your cycling goal
Now wait a minute, Stacy. You just said that Impossible Goals are less about the timeframe, and more about moving towards the goal and making meaningful progress every day! Why do I have to consider the timing of this?
You have to consider the time frame because you want to make sure you are making progress. There is a big difference between thinking about completing a goal and actually taking steps/actions towards achieving your goal. You want to be sure you are taking action, on some level, every single day that it is possible, to work towards realizing your goal.
Honestly, the timeline itself really depends on what your goal is. Mine is to complete a century in 2020, so I have to be mindful of things like how long it will take me to physically be able to do this, the weather, etc.
The chances of me getting out for a 100 mile ride in December when it is cold and snowy are pretty darn slim. I really don’t have the gear right now to comfortably ride below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So, I am going to want to think about doing it during a time of year when I actually love being on the bike.
Since my preferred riding conditions are when it’s not too hot and not too cold (ya know, Goldilocks conditions, of course), I am realistically looking at late summer/early fall. If fall comes, and I am not quite there, I will do the best I can to get as close as I can to my goal. If need be I will keep taking steps into 2021 to get there.
One awesome thing you can do if your goal is similar to mine is to find a ride that you can sign up for that coincides with your Impossible Goal. That will give you a specific date to shoot for, and when you pay to sign up for a ride that gives you just one more incentive to complete your goal. Who wants to throw money away? Not me!
3. Share That Goal!
In this step you will share your goal with family, friends, literally ANYONE who will listen! Share that goal with YOUR DOG for crying out loud. She will have no clue what you’re saying, but she will continue to stare at you with adoration for what you are planning to accomplish! And who wants to let their dog down? No one. Absolutely no one!
I know. You’re thinking, aw crap. Once I say this out loud it becomes real. Once I write it down, post it on social media, it’s a thing. Once I tell other people? I am going to have to actually DO this thing.
Putting my impossible goal for 2020 here caused me some anxiety; I am not going to lie. I asked myself, do I really want to put this out in the world? Do I really want to share this dream? If it’s out there and others read it (you are still reading this, right?), there is legitimately no turning back.
Guys. This uncomfortable feeling is actually GOOD! Why, you may ask? You want this to happen!!! You want other people to know, you want them to support you, and you want them to hold you accountable.
Even if others never mention your goal to you again, once you share it, it will make you feel accountable. It’s out there!
AND NOT ONLY THAT…
Every single time you say it, share it, feel it? You are going to believe just a little bit more that your Impossible Goal is actually very much POSSIBLE.
The idea is that you are putting your intention out there, and an intention becomes a little something more once it has been expressed to others. The percentage of people who complete their actions actually increases once their intentions are shared. We want to accomplish our goals, so we do whatever we can to keep us on track, including letting others know so they can help to hold us accountable!
4. Write Your Goal Down and Make a Plan
Statistically, we are much more likely to complete a goal if we write it down. Every. Single. Day. Or at least have a visual reminder every single day. If you write it down, put it on a post-it where you always see it, you are that much more likely to actually do it. My post-it is right on my computer, so every single day I am reminded of my goal.
In addition, when you make a plan you need to SCHEDULE THINGS. I know, I am awful at this. But if I don’t schedule it? It doesn’t get done. Without a schedule it is so easy to prioritize everything and everyone else over what you ultimately want to accomplish.
If I just vaguely think that I need to ride a couple times this week, it’s not going to happen. But, if I say that I will ride from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and write it down? It is much more likely to happen.
So, what do you need in your plan? What do you need to schedule?
First of all, you need to make time for and plan out your workouts. Consider a paper journal, or a fitness tracking app like Strava/My Fitness Pal to keep track of your progress. Not so sure about a training plan? Check out my post on Indoor Cycling Training Plans for Women. You will also want to be sure to add some form of strength training into your workouts as well as stretching (yoga, Pilates, etc.).
In addition, you will also want to decide on a plan for your nutrition. Cyclists need food. It’s our fuel. We cannot ride substantial distances without it.
A lot of beginners (yes, I did this) make the mistake of thinking that as long as you have water and some snacks along for the ride you are all set, but that’s not enough. You need to consistently be mindful of what you are eating to fuel your rides.
For example, I know that if I am going out for a pretty intense ride in the evening that I will need to eat well and hydrate properly throughout the day leading up to the ride in addition to bringing water, hydration mix, and some snacks.
If weight loss is something that will help you along in terms of your goal (it happens to be for me), then this is also something to consider. Creating a bit of a calorie deficit (maximum of 250 calories per day) can go a long way in achieving this goal, but you have to be careful to also make sure that you are getting the fuel you need.
Also, you will love this. Ladies? WE NEED CARBS. They are our fuel. They make us go. The trick to to ingest the right ones at the right times in order to maximize nutrition and therefore performance.
For more information on fueling those training rides, check out my post on what women should eat before cycling workouts!
Okay, Stacy. I have a plan! Now what?
5. DO THE THING!
Here comes the hard part. You have to actually DO it! But, all of the work that you have done related to choosing a goal, telling people about it, writing it down, planning it out, will make this that much easier.
One great way to think about your actions every day is to ask yourself, “Is this bringing me any closer to my goal?”
This can be something small, such as choosing between a sugary or healthy snack. Or it can be something a bit larger, such as making time for and committing to a work out. One of the big things I did was to schedule a 50 mile ride in June as kind of a “halfway there” both in terms of timing and distance to get to my ultimate 100 mile goal.
Signing up for this ride was a big way of saying that I am all in, and I am going to make my impossible goal a priority. It also is helpful to keep me on track since June is a whole lot closer than late summer/early fall!
Finally, for me, one key component of this piece is to never lose sight of my reason for setting this goal in the first place. I ask myself why I want to be able to ride 100 miles, with 2500 feet of climbing, at 15 miles per hour. Is it the number that is so important?
These numbers alone do NOT motivate me. It’s what they represent. I am doing this because I want the feeling of being healthy, athletic and able to accomplish hard physical things.
Okay! Now we are getting somewhere!
But…then I take it further. WHY do I want to be healthy, athletic and able to accomplish hard physical things? Well, because I want to be able to keep up with my son.
Why is it so important that I be able to keep up with my son? It’s because I want to set a good example for him.
Why do I want to set a good example for him? Because I want him to grow up healthy and strong and have it be an intrinsic part of who he is.
Now, if that’s not a good reason, I really don’t know what is. Passing along a healthy lifestyle to my son? That’s something that really motivates me.
So, what motivates you? Once you come up with a reason, then ask yourself WHY that reason is something that is so important to you. Keep it going, and keep asking that question until you get to an answer that is really, truly motivating. Something that inspires you at your core.
OK! Now it’s time to share! It’s your turn. Remember, you have to get that goal out there!
What is YOUR impossible cycling goal of 2020? Share it with me and comment below!
I wasn’t kidding up there about us being accountability buddies. We are in this together, and we absolutely can DO this together!
Don’t be shy…I don’t want to be hanging out here all alone with only my own goals to keep me company!