With the new year comes new fitness goals.
The first few weeks of the new year are filled with excitement and promise. We sign up for gym memberships. Buy new yoga mats and sneakers. And we wake up at the crack of dawn to go running. But then something happens by the time February rolls around. We…forget about our goals.
It’s happened to the best of us. And, in fact, studies have shown that most Americans abandon their new year’s goals within a month after setting them.
There are lots of reasons we quit on our fitness goals. We don’t have free time. Work gets in the way. And it’s not exactly easy to rouse enthusiasm for early morning runs!
But one of the main reasons that we abandon our fitness goals is that we want to see dramatic results right away. We fixate on the results, instead of improving the habits and routines that lead to those results.
Whether it’s through creating an action plan or setting up micro goals, these small adjustments to your goal-setting process can help keep you motivated in the short term, which will then pay off dividends in the long term.
Below are ten ways to make your fitness goals stick this year.
1. Create process-based goals
Result-based goals like “lose weight” or “win a 5K race” give us something to strive for. But they’re hard to predict. We can’t predict how much weight we’ll lose or if we’ll win the race–there are lots of factors beyond our control. A process-based goal, on the other hand, is something that is within your control. It is the action you take everyday that will make this goal come to fruition.
Here’s how to turn your results-based goal into a process-based goal.
- Results based goal: Lose weight
- Process based goal: Take a dance class three times a week; Incorporate veggies into lunch and dinner for a month
- Results based goal: Win a 5k
- Process based goal: Run three times a week; Run for thirty minutes without stopping
By keeping your focus on the process and on improving, you’ll feel much more motivated to stick to your goal. And the results will soon catch up with your hard work.
2. Keep track of your fitness goals
A surefire way to make your fitness goals stick is to manage your goals with a fitness planner.
You can use a planner to keep track of your workouts, record your time, note any improvements, and more.
So if you set a goal to run a mile in 10 minutes, you can then measure your speed week-to-week and see how you’re improving. Or measure how many weights you're lifting or how many reps you’re doing.
A fitness planner can also show you where you need to adjust. If you’ve been doing pushups with ease, then you can add more intensity to your workout. Or if you’ve been skipping your weight lifting sessions, maybe it’s a sign to swap it for a workout you’d rather do.
By measuring your progress and adjusting your workouts, you can stay focused and on course.
3. Set a micro goal every week
Long term goals like “run a marathon” or “lower cholesterol” take time, discipline, and commitment before you may see results.
To stay engaged with your goals for the long haul, introduce short-term goals to keep you interested.
Every week, create a micro goal that is relevant for your long term goal. So if your long term goal is to run a marathon, then a micro goal can be “run for 2 minutes” this week. It may seem laughably small but that’s the point. Human beings are naturally motivated by positive results. Reset your expectations so that you can exceed them.
The micro goals will yield small wins and big satisfaction, leading you to stay committed to your long-term goals.
4. Give yourself visual nudges
We can’t rely on our memory or self-discipline alone to maintain our goals. We need external support to help motivate us. Place a gym bag by your front door. Set up workout clothes on your bed. Hang a jump rope from your door. These visual nudges will do just that…nudge you to start working out.
5. Have a backup fitness plan
If we want to maintain our fitness goals, then we have to be realistic and account for obstacles. Rainy days when you’re scheduled for a run. Or low-energy days when you don’t feel like working out. Have a back up plan in mind so that you don’t skip your workout and lose momentum. If you don’t have the energy to do a full workout, do some pushups. If it’s raining outside, do an online yoga video indoors. A back up plan will help you stay on track.
6. Give yourself a mantra
A mantra is a phrase or word that you repeat. It can help you stay motivated during challenging workouts. So if you’re running the last mile of your workout, tell yourself “I can do this” Or if you’re delaying a workout, tell yourself “This will help me get stronger.”
You can also write down your mantra in your planner and use it to inspire you for the rest of the week.
7. Sign up for a class
Vary up your fitness routine with a new class. Maybe it’s a boxing class or a dance class or a yoga class. You’ll have fun learning new skills, being in a different environment, and listening to a great playlist.
8. Do a group activity with friends
On the same note, try incorporating a social activity with your fitness routine. It’s easier to do new things with friends. Maybe organize a post-lunch walk with coworkers. Or a post-work walk with friends.
9. Have a support system
This could be friends, coworkers, or an online community. A support system helps you keep your goals accountable and cheers you on.
10. Celebrate your wins
Don’t wait until you reach your goals to finally celebrate. Make sure to celebrate your wins along the way. Relishing the small victories will make you feel good. And when you feel good about your fitness goals, you’ll want to sustain that feeling.
Ways to celebrate:
- Get yourself fun new workout socks
- Sign up for your favorite fitness class
- Watch an inspiring movie
- Schedule a cozy day for yourself. Write in your journal, read your favorite book, and self-care.