At the beginning of February I committed to a new challenge at my gym… to run (or walk) a total of 144 miles over three months.  It amounts to 12 miles a week.  It was a big commitment for me.  I already spend about four hours a week at the gym in classes that I don’t want to give up.  To add the additional running, it Personal Challengemeans another three hours a week.

When I got off the treadmill the other day, I saw a woman I know.  She was involved in a conversation while I was running my last two miles of the week.  She made a joke about how she was chatting while I was running.  I told her that I needed to log my miles for the challenge.  Her response was, “Oh that, I signed up for it, too, but I was on vacation last week and this week I’ve been really busy and…”

It started me thinking, what’s the difference between her and me?  Why am I getting the running in and she’s not?

And, my thinking went further because (total transparency here) there have been plenty of times I’ve made commitments that I have not followed through on.  So, why am I following through THIS time as opposed to other times?

I believe that there are five key components that you need to put in place, to set yourself up for success, when you make a commitment.  I am going to relate them here to both my running and your business.

  1. Understand why you’re doing it.  For my running, I’m doing it because I want a new physical challenge to keep my mind and body engaged.  I am also working very hard at getting more fit since I feel better when I’m in better shape.  For your business consider why you do what you do.  Why are you embarking on a new project or initiative?  What do you want to achieve by accomplishing it?
  2. What do you need to do to make it happen?  This is a big one.  Break the whole goal up into smaller steps.  Running 144 miles is a lot and certainly too much for me to even think about tackling. Breaking it down into a smaller, 12 mile a week, goal has made it much less intimidating.  In your business many of the projects you take on are big.  What can you do to break them down into smaller pieces?  One of my favorite questions to ask is: how would you suggest someone else manage the project?
  3. How are you going to do it…what’s the plan?  Let’s be real here… just breaking down your goals into smaller chunks doesn’t get the work done.  I had to create the time to actually DO the work.  I broke my 12-mile a week commitment into four chunks (4 miles on Sunday, 2 miles on Tuesday, 4 miles on Thursday and 2 miles on Saturday).  What can you do to structure your time to help you get the steps of your project done?  My suggestion to you is to be realistic.  Don’t make your daily steps so large that you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by them.  Small progress regularly is more effective than occasional fast bursts.
  4. Track your results.  As I get off the treadmill, I track how far I went and how long it took on a sheet posted on a very visible wall.  Watch your progress and assess regularly to see if you need to make any changes (I’m working towards two 5-mile days and one 2-mile day).  What numbers can you track in your business?  Are you moving towards your goal?  Is your goal still realistic?  Are you looking at it regularly?
  5. Support.  I think out of all of them, this is the most important.  Find a team of cheerleaders who know what you’re doing and support you.  Also find a mentor, guide or coach.  Ask questions when you have them so you don’t waste your time or energy running in circles (or in my case getting injured).  Use your mentors and cheerleaders to keep you moving forward and leave the naysayers behind.

Now imagine if you take these steps to your business. What goal can you put in your sights?  Why do you want it?  What can you do to make it happen?   

I’ve only been at this for one month and I’m already seeing results. I’ve seen my stamina increase (I can run further) and I am seeing my speed increase.  I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m at come the end of April.

What goal are you going to commit to?  Share it with me to make it real.