As we move into the holiday season, I think of all the gifts I’ve received this year. The gift of learning is always top on my list. This year I learned a lot and really pushed myself to do things I never thought possible. It was such a great feeling when I accomplished a long term goal and bucket list item. Finishing a half marathon was wonderful, but the best part of it was the journey I took to get to that finish line. If I had to sum up my journey and what I took away from it, I’d say the realization that the cycle of learning can apply to all situations. As an educator, I’m always reading and focusing on how children learn and process information. It was so interesting to me to see the connections of these concepts to my personal running life. Specifically, for me the cycle of learning consists of:
- Target/Goal – Clearly identified goal or target you are trying to meet. For me the target was a race; but for many it’s a weight loss amount, or something they’ve always wanted to learn to do. Having a clear target helps you focus on what you are trying to achieve.
- A Plan – Creating an actionable plan that breaks down the steps you need to take to achieve your target. They say a goal without a plan is really just a dream. I would have to agree strongly with this statement. For me, having a plan kept me organized and focused on my desired outcomes. I knew each week what I had to do in order to meet my overall goal. The plan was created by back mapping from my race date. I had twenty weeks from when I started to my goal race. This window of time gave me enough time to realistically set plans for each week. This was critical as many of us tend to have unrealistic expectations for the time it takes to accomplish our goals. For example, if we are looking to lose twenty (20) pounds, it is not realistic to expect to lose that in just one week.
- Accountability – having a system for accountability is critical to success. For me, I had many layers of accountability. I had friends who were on the journey with me holding me accountable. I would never want to let my tribe down! I had a coach/teacher who was holding me accountable for doing my work. I had to report to her on my daily runs and had to publicly post them on Facebook using a GPS app. Finally, I had personal accountability. I had an online private calendar on which I logged my runs. These many layers kept me on track and moving toward my goal.
- Support – as we all know the best laid plans can go awry. That’s true for everything and therefore we need to have a support system. For me, I chose to have a personal coach to whom I turned. Through her, I met wonderful running friends who I often turned to first. We chatted together on a private Facebook group and shared our common journey. This support system got me through many rough patches along the way and provided answers to my endless questions. I couldn’t have done it without them.
As you can see, the above cycle can truly apply to any life situation. I believe it’s the cycle of learning and though it may seem to some an oversimplification of the process, I believe it’s truly all that’s needed. They say less is more and that always resonates with me. Take a moment as we head into this New Year and think about your goals. What would you like to accomplish this year? I hope you can use the above cycle to get started on the path to wellness.