In Kelsey Hogan's sport, it's important to stay motivated. So she's learned a thing or two about setting and achieving goals, and is sharing some of her tips as the new year kicks off.
The Steady Brook runner ran a 162-kilometre ultramarathon in Madagascar in 2022, and has goals to keep representing Canada at events around the world in 2023.
While her aspirations are likely a bit more intense than the average person's, she says she's learned small, manageable ways to keep herself — and anyone else looking to achieve a goal — on track.
Actually setting a goal is a great start
Hogan says simply setting a goal or making a decision to better yourself is a great starting point. If that decision hasn't come yet or you're looking for a place to start, she says it's important to choose something that will keep you motivated from the start — and potentially something out of your comfort zone.
It's important to set "an intention and a goal that is specific and measurable and achievable, and I also like to say a little bit hard," Hogan told CBC Radio Monday. "Something that's exciting and somewhat scary, but you believe is possible and [is] something that you've wanted to do."
Hogan said it can also be important to physically write down your goals, whether it be on paper or in a note on your phone to have as a tangible reminder.
Build a plan and keep yourself accountable
Along with all the good intentions of goal setting in January, Hogan says it's important to make sure you have targets to get past the initial push at the start of the year.
She suggests building a plan to help stay on track, including smaller goals along the way that allow you to see the progress you're making.
"Having those goals that you're meeting along the way will help keep [you] motivated," Hogan said.
"If you're just going to the gym each day and you don't necessarily feel like you're progressing or you don't have little benchmarks that you can reward yourself for, it can be a great idea to set a few different short-term goals. You know, 'Right now I'm able to do this and in a month's time I think I can progress to this.'"
Surrounding yourself with the right people can also keep you accountable, she added, such as friends working toward a similar goal or a group you can work with toward a collective goal.
Don't be afraid to adjust
If the last few years are a sign of anything, it's that life can bring ups and downs.
Hogan says that's okay, and that it's always a good idea to plan for that when it comes to setting a goal.
For example, Hogan says she tends to set multiple goals for each race — which she calls A, B and C goals.
"You might go out with the intention of a really exciting, shoot-for-the-moon, beyond what you believe is possible goal. And I like to have that as my A goal…. Believe that it's possible, and tell yourself that it's possible and go out with that intention," she said.
"Sometimes along the way you might trip up, some things might be unexpected that you weren't planning for in the year…. So it's helpful to have sort of different versions of those things based on the conditions that you might encounter."