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Avoid the long, hard road by setting small goals


By Matt Weed

New year, new you?

How many of you have already broken your New Year’s resolution? Be honest now! Don’t worry, this is not an “I told you so” story, this is a “keep at it” story.

I’ve personally never been one to set “new year, new me” goals. I have had a hard enough time in my life sticking to any goal in the long term, if we are being honest. I have always taken the bumpier, less comfortable and definitely less smart road. I take the road that you are dragged kicking and screaming down to only look back and think, “Man, I should have done this the easier way.”

I do this out of laziness. To reach goals or build habits often means more work than I think I can handle, or have time for at the moment. But if I would have pushed myself just a little harder, it would have made life so much easier. So, I have found for me personally that breaking each goal down into small much more achievable – and, in turn, more rewardable – subtasks works much better. For example, for healthier living, I know I just need to man up and hit a gym, but I am not a gym guy. So I start out by going for walks. I like hiking – no, I love hiking! And walking is just the urban version of hiking.

By setting smaller goals of walking so many times per week, I achieve a smaller part of a bigger goal and feel the rewards much more quickly. It can be so discouraging with something like weight loss to not see instant results. Setting more realistic goals to start and then adding more and more as you feel comfortable seems to be the best option for most of the people I have met in life.

However, true success comes when you keep those new habits going continuously, which for most people in the modern world is hard. Things come up. If you have kids, well, kid things happen that might not allow you to keep that routine. So it’s important to keep whatever it might be as constant as possible. Say if I miss a day of walking due to working longer than I anticipated, then I need to make up for that another day of the week. And let me tell you, it is hard. But the older I get the more I start to realize how healthy even the littlest of runtimes are.

I have a morning routine every day. I get up, start some coffee, meditate and turn on some music. I usually enjoy a cup or two of my coffee either outside or at the table while I catch up on the world, whether that be through social media or news, and then I hop in the shower.

I start this typically at 4:30 a.m. I don’t really start work until 8 a.m., but part of that routine is logging in an hour early to slowly start my day. I am not the type of person who can just be thrown into the craziness of the world; I need a gradual start if I am to be at my best.

That is the longest-running regular routine I have, and it is one that took me years to figure out and keep constant in my life. But it is one that has helped me tremendously.

So, whatever your goal is for this year, keep it small and build it out. Keep at it if you fail, and try again. Whatever you do, never give up trying to better yourself, it will pay off. It’s just whether it was down the easy road or the long hard road.

Columnist Matt Weed is a resident of Crafton who enjoys travel, supporting local businesses and exploring the neighborhoods that make up the West Side of Pittsburgh and beyond.


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