It's a new year!

Wouldn't it be great if every January 1st, you could sit down and write out all your goals and ideal achievements for the year, then reach them with minimal effort and no interruptions to your lifestyle plan? Yes, it sure would be. But that's not realistic. Most of us don't succeed without foresight, planning, diligence, sweat, and tears.

Any time of year is a good time to sit down and think about what you want to do, where you want to be, and who you want to go. :) Winging it might work once in a blue moon, but I wouldn't make winging it a cornerstone principle of success.

Items to consider as you set pen to paper and scribble out your 2019 and onward plans:

If running your business is a number one priority, then everything else falls in line. It may be keeping your family happy, or doing well in school, or being the best triathlete you can be. Don't confuse yourself with conflicting priorities. Always work your way down the list and make your decisions based on these. In the long run, folks that attempt to prioritize everything can fall as flat as those that take on too little. It's easy to burn out and hard to rekindle a spent flame.

Know yourself
If you are a horrible swimmer, don't expect to make the front of the pack in one season. If you can barely write a coherent sentence but want to be a best selling author... well, you have some work to do. Understand why you want to accomplish some thing. Don't delude yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.

Set SMART goals
Specific: "I want to finish a marathon."
Measurable: "I want to finish a marathon under 5 hours."
Achievable: "Lots of people have run a marathon; so can I."
Realistic: "I ran a 10k under 1 hour last season."
Timely: "I want to run a sub-5 hour marathon by the end of this season."
Read more here.

Deal with setbacks
Nothing ever goes exactly to plan. Life has a way of taking your perfectly laid plans and twisting them up into a pretzel. Those who generally succeed navigate these twists and turns with a fresh outlook/response/readjustment to each. Sometimes these twists lead you to reassess your goals. That's not a bad thing. Your achievements are yours; you don't need to measure yourself with someone else's yardstick.

Own your mistakes
A great failure in life is to blame your mistakes on others and/or the environment. An honest analysis and assessment of what went right and what went wrong is key to the repetition of success (re: reduction in failure!). The best and brightest inventions are often the end result of hundreds or thousands of failed experiments. The best athletes in the world are beaten repeatedly as they improve their game.

I hope you have a tremendous year this year!

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at

One Step Beyond is the producer of the Powerstroke®: Speed through force and form freestyle technique DVD, intended to help new to intermediate triathlon swimmers become faster and more powerful in the water.