Let’s face it: we all have something we want to change about ourselves and our lives.
Whether it’s something physical, like losing weight or becoming stronger; something to do with our emotional well-being, such as building on our self-confidence; or ticking something off an ever-growing bucket list, such as completing a marathon or travelling the world… But these changes can be hard to make. There’s always something holding us back, something in our way that causes us to shrug our shoulders and think, meh, I’ll do it later.
Yet what if later never comes around? What if later keeps getting later, until time runs out and we miss our chance to make our dreams a reality?
We cannot let that happen. So here, we’re going to give a few tips on how to see your goals through.
Set yourself a specific goal
It seems obvious, but bear with me here. The thing is, if you set a vague goal to get in shape, you allow yourself to be loosey goosey with sticking to it. If you’re specific about it, however, like “My goal is to lose 3 pounds in 1 month” or “I challenge myself to be able to cycle an 100 km marathon by May”, you’ll then have a goal to measure your progress by and can strategise the moves you make to achieve that goal. With a specific date and fitness level to envision and work towards - and be excited about - getting in shape suddenly transforms from a chore you’re only half motivated to achieve to a reality you’re dedicated to making happen.
For example, when putting together our training programmes for our various dream challenges, we create them with the specific challenge and time-frame in mind. For Women V Cancer Ride The Night, the challenge is to get from couch to cycling 100 km in 7 months. We then work back from the challenge date and ideal fitness level, so that week by week, the training advances slightly. Following this programme with the Ride The Night event in mind therefore makes a marathon not a chore or a dream, but a reality, for our thousands of participants, regardless of their fitness level upon first signing up.
Also key to this point is that you need to make your goal personal to you. Particularly around the New Year, there’s quite a lot of talk about resolutions. But the resolutions we set ourselves, whether due to current trends, social pressure or simply lack of preparation, can often be vague or generic and therefore not truly important to us. There’s no point in setting yourself a challenge just because everybody is at this time of year. Set yourself a goal that you know by achieving it, you’ll enhance your life in some way. For example, getting over a fear, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or doing something you’ve always wanted to do, but have not yet managed to. No matter how small or big or ridiculous it may seem to other people, if it’s personal to you, it could enhance your life so much more than a seemingly bigger feat might do.
A prime example is our very own UK Challenge Organiser and Walk The Night participant, Todd Weedon, has challenged himself to open a can of baked beans. For many people, this probably seems strange and not like a challenge at all - but Todd has a great phobia of baked beans - so for him, it’s a mighty feat. And in conquering the challenge to get so close to some baked beans as to open a can of them, he works towards getting over his fear and so no longer having to go to great lengths to avoid them. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m sure there are quite a few people in the world who eat too many beans and so are challenging themselves to cut back on them!
For some of us, just talking to people or meeting strangers is a challenge, so we may set ourselves the goal of regularly attending a social event or gathering. And for many people, setting foot in a place they’ve never been before is a challenge. Just think about Sam Wise Gangee from Lord of the Rings. He’s never been out of the shire before and in the Fellowship of the Ring, he has to take a moment to mentally prepare himself to take one more step that will take him further from his home and everything familiar to him than he’s ever been.
Find a way to get excited about it and remind yourself why you’re doing it
Once you’ve set yourself a personal, specific and realistic goal, you should at least be half motivated to see it through. But perhaps halfway through your journey towards conquering it, you may wilt a bit. The best thing to do here is to remind yourself why you started your journey in the first place.
Picture this: You’re halfway through your training for your challenge to Trek Mount Kilimanjaro 2018 and you start to lose your puff on a four-hour hilly walk. Your stomach is rumbling, your attention is waning, your legs are aching and you start to think, why the heck am I doing this?
THIS is when you need to remind yourself, you’re doing this because you want to climb Mount Kilimajaro and you KiliCANjaro! Remind yourself of the charity you’re doing it for, of the pictures you’ve seen of the incredible panoramas, of the feeling you’ll get when you reach the roof of Africa.
If this isn’t enough, find another way to get excited about your journey towards your goal, such as listening to an awesome playlist while you work towards it. This is how I fire myself up to go to the gym, adding a bunch of new tracks whenever the playlist gets a bit old, so that it’s always invigorating. I find it’s good to have my own personal playlist with my old and new favourites in there; but mine is eight years in the making - so while you perfect your own playlist), we’ve put together the ultimate Dream Challenges Motivation Playlist for you to listen to for free. With over 150 upbeat tracks, old and new, from House of Pain’s Jump Around to Pump It by the Black Eyes Peas, even the fussiest of music enthusiasts will be feeling the power. Listen for free on Spotify.
Surround yourself with positive people
It helps if other people know about your goal, too - so that when you’re losing momentum, they can gear you up. Todd has the rest of us cheering him while he faces the beans. Sam Wise Gangee has Frodo clapping him on the back while he takes that step. Our Dream Challenges participants have a Facebook Group full of people sharing advice on achieving exactly the same goal. With other people’s enthusiasm and belief in you, it’s easier to believe in yourself.
This is one of the wonderful things about our dream challenges. All of our challenges are renowned for their camaraderie. Whether you’re walking a marathon around London through the night with a thousand other people to unite against cancer, or whether you’re cycling along the Great Wall of China with twenty other ChallengeHer participants, or whether you’re trekking, canoeing and cycling across the Isle of Wight in a tightly knit team of four; in all of our challenges you’re surrounded by inspiring people, who share your goals and motivation to explore, challenge yourself and do something amazing for charity at the same time. And what’s more, many of these people become your friends for life. There’s nothing like conquering a dream challenge together.
To summit up
Most importantly, remind yourself that it’s all in the head. So the famous quote goes, “If the mind can believe it, the body can achieve it.” Whether your goal is to write a novel, launch your start-up, learn a language, travel three countries, climb a mountain or knock a stone off your body weight; no matter how far off achieving that goal may seem, it’s totally achievable if you believe you can do it. It’s a cliché but it’s true!
So whatever your goal is, remember to make it specific, remind yourself why you’re doing it, listen to your perfect soundtrack to get you through and when you’re feeling like it’s impossible, reach out to your friends and family for that extra boost.
Walk The Night: 4 Challenges In 1
Want to conquer your goals to get fit, make more friends, break the routine and do something amazing for charity in one hit? Why not Walk The Night? Choose to walk a marathon (26.2 miles) or a half marathon (13.1 miles) around London through the night to support the invaluable charities, Breast Cancer Care and Prostate Cancer UK.Learn more about Walk The Night