Would it even be a new year if I didn’t write a post talking about goal-setting? It might be cliche to write this post now, but I don’t care. I love goal-setting, I love the feeling of a fresh start that the new year brings, and I want to talk about how you can set fitness goals that you can actually achieve in 2020. It’s my blog and I can do what I want, so there!
Are You Tired of Giving Up on Your Fitness Goals?
Okay, now that I’ve been petulant, let’s get into the meat of this. Lots of people start out a new year or a new month or even a new week with the best intentions. They tell themselves that this is the [insert block of time of your choosing] that they’re finally going to get it together. They’re going to exercise six days per week, they’re going to only eat squeaky clean foods and cut out the sugar, they commit to daily meditation and journaling…until something comes up — they get sick, or a kid gets sick, or work gets busy, or they just don’t feel like it.
There are a million reasons why you might find yourself neglecting a goal that you previously set for yourself, and it’s easy to feel upset or guilty when you realize you’ve fallen off the wagon for the 15th (or 1500th) time. The problem might not be you, though. It might be the types of goals you’re setting.
Changing the way you set health and fitness-related goals for yourself can increase your chances of being successful and empower you to continue progressing throughout the new year and beyond. Here are 10 strategies I recommend experimenting with if you’ve had trouble sticking to goals in the past:
1. Know Yourself Better
I love personality tests. The more I learn about myself, the easier it is for me to work with my personality instead of trying to white-knuckle my way through life and fighting against my natural tendencies.
When it comes to habit-change and goal-setting, one of the most useful personality tests, in my opinion, is the Four Tendencies quiz. This quiz lets you know whether you’re an Obliger, Upholder, Rebel, or Questioner. Once you know your tendency, you can gain a better understanding of how you respond to inner and outer expectations (including the expectation that you will accomplish a certain goal). Knowing this can help you put systems in place that will make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
For example, I’m an Obliger. Obligers respond to outer expectations more than inner expectations and do best when they have outer accountability. I shared some of my 2020 goals in an Instagram post to help create a sense of accountability for myself. Now that I’ve talked about what I want to do in 2020 and put it out into the world, I’m more inclined to actually follow through and do those things.
2. Identify Your “Why”
Next, I recommend getting really clear on why you want to achieve a particular goal. Why do you want to lose 15 pounds? Why do you want to go to the gym three times per week? Why do you want to stick to a vegan diet?
Whatever your goals are, ask yourself “why” five times (and write down your answers). This helps you figure out what’s motivating you.
When you understand your motivation, it’s easier to maintain the systems you’ve put in place and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal by the end of the year, month, week, etc.
3. Specify the “What” and the “How”
We’ve talked about identifying and getting specific about your “why.” I want you to get specific about your “what” and “how”, too.
Don’t just say “I want to lose weight in 2020”. Say, “I want to lose 20 pounds in 2020” (or whatever number makes sense for you).
Next, figure out how you’re going to do it. For example, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in 2020 by tracking my macros to ensure I’m eating in a calorie deficit and exercising 3 times per week.”
4. Break It Down
If you set a really big goal for yourself, it’s easy to feel daunted. You might even feel so daunted that you end up not trying to pursue it at all. To avoid falling into this trap, try breaking your goal down into a series of smaller ones.
For example, I’m setting a goal to do 10 strict pull-ups by the end of the year. Currently, I can do 6 and, while adding 4 might not seem like a lot, if you’ve ever tried doing pull-ups, you know how difficult that is.
I know that I need to break this down if I want to reach my goal of 10 pull-ups. So, I’m going to try to add just one pull-up by the first of April. Then, I’ll work to add another one by June. By September, I want to be up to 9, and I’ll reach my goal of 10 by the end of December.
I’m planning on putting together a post soon all about increasing your pull-ups, so I won’t get into the specifics of how I plan to hit each of these milestones. Rest assured, though, that there is a plan.
A lot of us find ourselves setting the same goals year after year (lose weight, exercise more, eat better, etc.). We also find ourselves failing to achieve these goals year after year. If you’re setting a goal that you’ve set before, I want you to sit down and think about why you didn’t accomplish it in the past.
Get specific, and do your best not to shift responsibility onto others. I recognize that there are times when things are out of our control. However, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for achieving your goals.
Let’s say you were doing really well with your goal of hitting the gym three times per week, but then your work schedule got really busy. It’s not your fault that work was busy. Your busy work schedule also didn’t cause you to stop going to the gym, though. It was your lack of systems that caused you to stop going.
Maybe you were too busy to get to the gym. Were you too busy to workout from home instead, though? Were you too busy to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Were you too busy to pace back and forth while on the phone instead of staying seated?
I’m not trying to shame you for not achieving a goal in the past. I’m trying to help you see that you have more control than you think and that, if you want to see a different result this time around, you’ll need to do something different than what you’ve done every other time you’ve tried to make a change.
6. Get Rid of Stumbling Blocks
If you want to see different results when you tackle your new year’s goals, start by identifying and getting rid of potential stumbling blocks. If you want to do a Whole30 in January, for example, clear out your pantry and get rid of the non-compliant food so it’s not there to tempt you when work gets busy or you’re feeling stressed out. This is where your reflection comes in handy.
Think about what got in your way the last time you gave up on a goal and work to remove the obstacles. Did you give up on your goal of eating at home because you didn’t have food prepared in the fridge and you were starving after a long day at work? Get rid of the stumbling block by scheduling time to meal prep and making sure you have easy, healthy food at the ready.
7. Schedule Check-ins
I’m very guilty of not doing this, but I do believe it makes a huge difference. If you set a goal on January first and don’t check in with it until the beginning of December, there’s a good chance you’re going to find that you didn’t make as much progress as you intended.
I set a bunch of goals at the beginning of 2019, told myself I had plenty of time to get them done, and then proceeded to follow through with barely any of them. I don’t want that to be the case for myself this year. That’s why I’m scheduling quarterly check-ins with myself. That way, I can see how I’m progressing and make adjustments as necessary.
Whether you do a weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-in, I recommend have something in your schedule so that you can touch base with yourself and recommit to your goals if needed.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Reevaluate
Sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew. Maybe losing 20 pounds is a little too ambitious. Maybe going to the gym 4 times per week is just too much.
If during one of your pre-scheduled check-ins, you find that you took on too much, that doesn’t mean you have to give up altogether or that you’re a failure. It just means you need to reevaluate and make some adjustments.
Four workouts at the gym might be too much for you. What about two workouts at the gym and two workouts at home, though? Does that seem more doable?
9. Write It Down
I’m a huge proponent of writing things down, and there’s plenty of research backing up its benefits. Whether you write it in a notebook, on your bathroom mirror, or in a social media post, write down what your fitness goals are for the new year.
I actually recommend writing them down in a few different places. That way, it’ll be easier for you to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be less inclined to forget about them when life gets busy.
10. Cut the Crap
Finally, a little tough love — cut the crap. If you want to make a change and make it stick, you have to be sick of your own bullshit. You have to stop looking for excuses, release your victim mindset, and accept responsibility for yourself.
This isn’t easy to do, and you’ll have to be honest about how you — yes, you — have held yourself back in the past.
Here’s an example from my own life. I used to think I was eating a healthy diet and that I just couldn’t lose weight. In reality, though, I wasn’t tracking my macros or calories and was eating way more than I thought I was. When I got sick of my own bullshit and actually started tracking what I was putting in my face whole each day, I lost weight, and it wasn’t as hard as I’d always said it was. I just had to be honest about what I wasn’t doing.
I recognize that this example might seem a little trite. My point, though, is that at the end of the day, no one can make you reach your health and fitness goals. You have to decide for yourself that it’s something you want.
Stop Giving Up On Your Fitness Goals Today
There you have it — 10 strategies that can help you set achievable fitness goals and make yourself proud in 2020 (and in all the years to come).
Which one of these strategies are you going to try? Comment down below and let me know!
Featured image source: Unsplash