Bulletproof New Year’s Resolutions – Altitude Adjustment

We all make New Year’s Resolutions. But when you look back on the previous year, do you even remember what your resolution was?  If not, you’re not alone.  Only 12% actually keep their resolutions from year to year according to Wiki.  This is a terrible track record and it tells me 2 things. We are either settings our goals too high(failure is inevitable), or we simply state our resolutions and then forget them(never had a chance to succeed).

Take a look at my 4 resolutions. 

– Ironman in under 12hrs
– Career development
– Stay in touch with friends better
– Volunteer more often

There’s nothing up there that is simply unattainable.  Could I do them all tomorrow? Nope, but 1 year from now should be a reasonable amount of time to be able to look back and say ok, "I did that".

Change your Altitude
So, how does one go from making resolutions to keeping them?  Your resolutions are like a 50,000 foot view of your life goals for the next year.  Once you get to cruising altitude there’s not too much to do.  So for each 50,000 ft goal, you’ll need drill down further and further…40k, 20k, 10k, etc. 

Tools needed:
A year ago, I picked up
Getting Things Done(GTD) on Amazon. It really is a good book and worth reading.  It’s only $8. This book helped me get organized by setting up different ‘altitudes’ and how to stay on top of them.  The concepts were good ideas, except that much of it involved writing things down(on paper).  So, to keep myself from carrying notebooks and folders everywhere, I just added "Remember the Milk(RTM)" to my Android Phone(Also available on iPhone and Blackberry).  RTM is like my personal 5k foot task assassin.  If it’s not on RTM, it likely won’t get done.  Lastly, you’ve got to have a way to Stickk to the plan.

Here’s a breakdown of my resolution for an Ironman in under 12 hrs:

  • 30,000-40,000 foot goals: Plan the work and work the plan.  Have a Workout Plan. This can be either through a coach or many of the downloadable plans on the internet.  This is your roadmap. You really can’t just leave it up to how you feel on a given day. We have a coach that sends us a workout schedule on a monthly basis.  Typically we follow the pattern of Monday being the rest day, and Tuesday through Sunday we workout.  Building for 3 weeks, then taking a step back for 1 week.  The cool part is that you start to see the patterns. 
  • 20,000-30,000 foot goals: Sure, sometimes you’ll get freaked out later in the year if you look at the entire month ahead.  No problem, just look at what you do tomorrow. Once you get your head around that, you look at the next day. Don’t look at the big picture all the time.
  • 5,000-10,000 foot goals: This is your daily workout.  Same as before…There will be days when you’ll need to ride 100+ miles, and then run afterwards, or you will need to bike for an hour and then run 22 miles afterward.  Or the workout is relatively short, but the weather is terrible outside.  Just start the workout, and handle 1 mile at a time.  Soon you’ll be half way done and motivated again to finish the entire workout. 
  • Be realistic with your goals:  I’m basically setting a goal to knock 25 min off my time on a similar IM course.  This is a lot of of work, but also something that is obtainable.  I could say that I want to win a Kona slot, but that’s just simply unrealistic.  I would need to knock off 3hrs off my total time, and come in around 9:10:00.  A 12 hour Ironman, means a 6 hour half-ironman.  So, right there is another midyear goal, that I will need to accomplish so that changes can be still made to ensure I accomplish my main goal.


Motivation comes in many forms. For many things, I just decide internally that I’m going to do something and that’s it.  This can also be called stubborn or thick headedness.  With other goals, I find that I have to take other measures. 

  • Get it out there in the open. Tell others what your goal is.   No need to hide it.  Eventually someone is going to ask, How’s that X working out for you. Write it down and tape it up somewhere.  I’ve got a countdown timer to IMAZ 2011 on my homepage so I can see the days ticking by.  313 days until IMAZ…better get cracking.  I also have a Post-It note on my monitor at work that breaks down what my pace needs to be to run an 11hr Ironman…My way of shooting for the stars and at least hitting the moon. 
  • Keep a Training Log.  Most of you probably already do this.  But if you’re here for the first time, this is something that will help you.  Training logs really help you build momentum of little successes along the way.  I use SportTracks; where it has this ‘Training Load mountain type graph’ where it pieces all of your workouts together over the course of a year. I find motivation sometimes by just not wanting to see a dip in my training log.  Success builds on success. Some training logs allow you to upload them to the internet so you can compare with friends/teammates. There are numerous to choose from.  See my previous post on choosing a Training Log.
  • Don’t forget to have fun. I actually started this blog just as a novelty one day.  Before too long I was bringing my camera along with me for the ride to kind of document things.  I’ve found that taking pictures from time to time actually makes me notice more things and enjoy the moment, rather than just focusing on the workout for hours on end.  So give it a try…there are blogs out there about much lesser things.  You’re very likely to run into others that have a similar goal.

Put some Skin in the Game:
Lastly, if you want to make your goal bulletproof, there’s another way….Cold hard cash.  That’s right, a wager of sorts. And that’s exactly what the folks at
www.stickk.com have done.  They like to call it a “Commitment Contract”, but really we’re talking about a simple wager.  So how much money would you really NOT want to lose if you didn’t reach your Goal.  The harder your goal is(personally), the more money you’ll need to wager to make sure you accomplish your goal.  So, $250 says I can break 12 hours at IMAZ.  If I don’t break 12 hours my credit card is billed and the money goes to a charity of my choosing. Now if that’s not sick and twisted enough, they also have a list of Anti-charities, so that if you don’t meet your goal, the money goes to a charity that you don’t like, no matter what side of the aisle you are on (Ex: George W. Bush Presidential Library  or  William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library).  The thought of not breaking 12hrs, AND donating money to one of the anti-charities(probably with your name on the donation), is enough to make me stop typing and go do my long ride…twice.

Thanks for Reading!


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4 Responses to Bulletproof New Year’s Resolutions – Altitude Adjustment

  1. jenez_world says:

    great post with some excellent tips.

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