The Importance of Evaluating the End of a Challenge/Goal
Last week I completed a 30-day plank challenge. It seemed like a good goal that would change up my workout routine, which has gotten stale lately. Every now and then I have to do something to keep myself from getting bored with exercise.
I can tell you that the results of the plank challenge were not what I expected. The challenge started with 30-second planks and then worked its way up to a 5-minute plank on the last day. The first week was fine as we moved up in 15-second increments. After that, it moved in 30-second increments, which doesn’t sound like much but made a big difference.
Planks could be used as a torture.
Past 90 seconds things got hard, very hard. Harder than I expected it to be and I got some unexpected results. For example, my lower back was not happy with me. I knew that my shoulders might be a bit sore because shoulder strength is where I have struggled when doing planks in the past. I was not prepared for what happened to my lower back.
The muscles were sore and tired extending from my lower back towards my hip. It got so bad I had a hard time running and walking. I even stopped running for a few days in the hopes that it would get better, which it did, but not completely until I was done with the challenge last week.
I hoped to feel stronger by the end of the challenge. However, I had to take short breaks during the long plank times just so I could finish. There were others in the challenge who had to take breaks as well. I was feeling a little frustrated with the whole thing until the day after the challenge ended when I did a ‘short’ 2-minute plank. I wouldn’t say that it was easy but it was easier than at the beginning of the challenge.
Make a Goal or Take on a Challenge
Taking on this 30-day plank challenge was intended to change up my workout routine. Did it do that? Ehhh, kind of. I’m glad I did it because it was hard and I don’t think I would have gotten to a 5-minute plank without it, but it wasn’t much of an addition to my regular workout routine. At most, it was only 5 extra minutes. I pictured myself more victorious at the end of the whole thing rather than splayed out on my exercise mat hoping the clock would run out.
This 30-day plank challenge made me evaluate the purpose of challenging or setting goals for ourselves. Did I take on this challenge to become a plank master or to push my limits? I wanted the former when I would have been happier had I kept the latter in mind.
Just because I didn’t get the results that I had hoped for doesn’t mean that this challenge was a failure. When you follow through with a goal or challenge that you’ve set for yourself, you win.
We Benefit from Unexpected Results
Some of the most wonderful surprises are in store when you challenge yourself because so often you get unexpected results. The plank challenge didn’t leave me with any awe-inspiring abdominal definition but it did make me stronger and it left me with the knowledge that if I keep at it, I can hold a 5-minute plank.
Unexpected results can be a blessing in disguise. For example, one of my best friends inspired me to run a triathlon several years ago. It was a goal that had seemed unattainable in my mind until she did it. So I spent 6 months training for a sprint triathlon. I expected to get in shape and my only goal was to finish.
In case you aren’t aware, triathlons involve swimming. The particular triathlon I entered had a .25 mile swim, which doesn’t sound like much, except I’m not much of a swimmer. When I used to swim laps for exercise, most of the cardiovascular benefits came from me trying NOT to drown. Then there was the part where I wasn’t comfortable in open water. In fact, the thought of swimming in open water left me with my knees shaking while I hyperventilated.
But I did it.
I completed the triathlon. I didn’t drown and, as it turns out, biking was way worse than swimming. It was awful and all the people that passed me during that leg of the race made it seem even worse. Completing the triathlon made me want to do better. I practiced swimming. I studied swimming technique because, like I said, I probably could have swum faster with water wings.
My technique has gotten better and my confidence has grown. I’ve swum a lot of laps in a pool and, now, a lake. I can say, I’m not afraid of open water anymore…unless there’s sharks or something.
I started the triathlon with the goal of finishing, which I did, but the unexpected benefit was the motivation to improve my swimming. I may not swim fast, but I do swim with confidence now.
Evaluate Your Results
When you set a goal or take on a challenge, once you’ve finished, it’s important to evaluate the whole process. If I hadn’t taken the time to evaluate my progress with the plank challenge, I would be disappointed in my results. I would be disappointed that I didn’t hold a full 5-minute plank, disappointed that I didn’t get abdominal definition, and disappointed that I forgot to do it at all on three days of the challenge.
By stepping back and evaluating where I started and where I am now, I can see that the challenge wasn’t a waste of time. It moved me forward and I don’t want to lose the progress that I’ve achieved.
Whether you’ve set weight loss, exercise, reading, writing, or artistic goals, it’s important to evaluate your progress from time to time. For long term goals, check in on yourself every 2-4 weeks to make sure you haven’t let apathy or bad habits take you off course.
For short term goals, like my plank challenge, an end of goal evaluation will help you see your progress or what changes you can make for next time to make future goals and challenges more successful.
My end of plank challenge evaluation – I want my planks to get stronger so I am going to continue to work on them. I am going to add on time in 15 instead of 30-second increments.
As always, when you start a new goal or challenge, record it somewhere. When you record it, you make yourself accountable. I kept an update on my blog for the duration of the plank challenge and it helped me stay motivated even though I forgot to update it on a couple of days.
What goals are you working on? Where are you in the process? How do you stay motivated? Let me know in the comments as I’m curious about what kinds of goals others set and how they achieve them.