You know the drill. January comes along and it’s time to set some healthy fitness goals for yourself for the next 365 days. Maybe 2014 was a good year for you, but chances are that there were certain things you set out to do which never materialized.
So what’s wrong?
Here’s the good news: it’s not you (necessarily). The real reason I believe we – yes, myself included – continue to fall short in pursuit of our fitness goals is because the way in which we set these goals is flawed.
Just take the running population, for example. Come January 1st, there are almost more runners on the road than cars! But just a few months, or even weeks later, the number has faded to the regular committed few.
We hear people saying things like:
“2015 is the birth of the new me”
“This year I’m going to get that flat tummy”
“No pain, no gain”
And yet it never seems to happen.
What’s the problem here?
Traditional goal setting doesn’t work. Find out how to succeed with your fitness goals in the new year.
There are two contributing factors which I believe are at play here.
Firstly, when setting our goals, especially in the areas of health and fitness, we fail to create a bigger vision for ourselves. Simon Sinek, who delivered one of the most popular TED talks of all time, talks about knowing your “why”. All the goals in the world don’t mean anything (and are certainly easier to discard later in the year) if they don’t contribute to something bigger.
Second, we tend to bite off more than we can chew. We see images of celebs and sportsmen splashed across our screens and immediately want to look like them. We forget that it took years of hard work, training and discipline to get to that point (not to mention loads of money and cosmetic surgery).
What should we do instead?
1. Create a vision.
Knowing where you are going and how your goals set you up to get there is critically important. To help you clearly define your own vision, try to answer the following questions:
- Where are you going?
- What are you working towards?
- What is it you are creating by setting your various goals?
- Why is this vision so important to you? (Hint: if it’s not, drop it)
- What would your life look like if you actually succeeded?
Then, when setting your goals in the conventional process, ask yourself: “If I actually achieved this goal, would it contribute to my bigger vision?”
2. Start smaller.
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Achieving fitness goals requires us to create and follow a plan which is sustainable. This will obviously differ from person to person, but if that means just 2 sessions per week with some walking on rest days, then so be it. The best fitness plan is the one you can stick to.
Don’t be afraid to start smaller. Once you’ve developed the habit of and positive experiences associated with exercise, you can start increasing workout intensity gradually. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, not some quick fix. You would never put a child on a full-size bike and expect him to immediately start riding. Same thing with your workouts.
And please, don’t be put off by all the “motivational” messages placed over images of half-naked women – you do not need to destroy yourself to reap the benefits of exercise.
By creating a vision of where you want to be in terms of your health & fitness and then taking small, positive steps to get there, you can be sure that 2015 will finally be there you realize your fitness goals.