We’re now over a week into January, and there’s still some of you out there who haven’t decided on a New Year’s Resolution. That’s okay, you don’t need some age old tradition to help you plan for your future, but the act of making that resolution might help you realise what it is you’d like to change about your current lifestyle.

Common resolutions are to lose weight, cut out unhealthy foods or alcohol, save more money etc etc… These are all fine long term goals, but you may find that without a more defined or specific goal, you may find yourself failing slightly, feeling unmotivated or complacent and ultimately failing to achieve your desired result.

So, instead of resolving to “lose weight”, with no set deadline (or a way off deadline like “the end of the year”!) I strongly encourage you to set a specific and realistic goal with a shorter deadline, for example “lose a stone in 6 weeks”. This allows you to strive to lose 2-3lbs a week for 6 weeks. A specific, realistically achievable and measurable goal!

You can apply these SMART goal setting techniques to a variety of health and fitness targets. Want to improve your cardiovascular fitness? If you’re currently able to run for 1 mile without stopping and want to improve beyond that, set yourself a goal of reaching 1.5 miles within two weeks, then 2 miles within the next 2 weeks etc.

I’d already decided on my goals long before New Year’s Day, (running my first ever marathon in April and the slightly daunting Spartan Ultra Beast in September), and I’m using SMART goal setting to help me increase my functional fitness to tackle these challenges head on! Due to the nature of the challenge I already have the specifics laid out for me: 15 weeks to increase my aerobic and muscular conditioning to run 26.6 miles. That sets my first goalpost, the next will be to maintain and/or improve my fictional fitness to tackle 27 miles of obstacles over mountainous terrain 20 weeks later.

To help me stay focused and committed, I’ve signed myself up to several shorter distance events in the lead up to both events, including half marathons, and obstacle course races all over the UK, this means I can’t slack off as I’ll need my strength and fitness all year round!

Knowing my first event, the Anglesey Half Marathon, is only 6 weeks away gives me a sense of urgency to increase my aerobic capacity before then and gives me a short term goal to aim for on the road to the London Marathon.

Have you set yourself short, medium and long term goals like me? If not, now’s the prefect time to get yourself organised!

Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to stay committed as stay the course.