12/30/2014 06:16 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2015

New Year's Resolutions Don't Have to Be Perfect


The new year is almost here and along with it, the opportunity to set resolutions and create new habits. A good chunk of resolutions are made concerning our health. People would like to exercise more, eat less, lose weight or stop smoking. Yet, how many of those goals will be meet by the end of the year? Too often, people will give up once they hit a stumbling block or make some mistakes.

However, these stumbling blocks and mistakes shouldn't be enough to thwart your entire effort towards your goals. Life is rarely perfect, and your journey towards your goals won't be, either. There will be times you make mistakes, life throws you a curve ball or you even have to deal with an injury. None of these things should mean that you quit on your goals, though.

Sometimes goals can seem overwhelming. For instance, when I decided I wanted to run a marathon two years ago, the idea just overwhelmed me. Twenty-six-point-two miles is an incredibly long distance. When I got my training program, it overwhelmed me even more. I looked ahead and all those distances kept adding up. Fourteen, 16, 18 and 20-mile runs. I had never ran that far in my life!

I had a huge goal, so I had to break it into pieces. Sure, I couldn't imagine running 20 miles in April, but I could imagine running 10 miles in January. That would be doable. So I decided to focus on my training just one week at a time. I never looked ahead; I just focused on what I had to do that week.

Sometimes even looking at a week seems overwhelming, so I work on my daily goals. I make sure I complete my workout. I make sure I'm eating the right meals. I make sure I'm drinking enough water. All these little things add up to big things.

When I was training for my first full marathon, I developed very painful tendonitis in my right Achilles. It was an overuse injury and I learned its common during marathon training. I knew I needed to rest my Achilles so it would improve, but I also needed to build up my long distance running so I could just survive a marathon. My solution was to ride a stationary bike during the week and only run once a week for my long run. Was it ideal? No. Was it perfect? Not in the least bit. But instead of quitting and giving up on my goal, it was a solution. I did this for a few weeks and ended up running the marathon pain-free.

So, what will your goals be this year? I like to ask myself where I will be in three months. Will I be wearing a medal around my neck, bragging about a personal best I just ran in a race? Will I be 10 pounds lighter? Will I be able to fit in that dress I want to wear? How do I get there? What do I need to do this week to achieve my goals? What do I need to do today that will help me achieve my goals? These are the questions I'll be asking myself on my journey to reach my goals.

I know as I strive towards my goals I'll make mistakes. I know I won't be perfect. But I won't be too hard on myself either when I do mess up. Mistakes are part of the process. They serve as a learning tool to figure out what does and doesn't work. They are not a reason to give up on your goals. They are a reason to get back on track.