Well, it’s almost that time of year again. Soon gyms across the country will be crowded with people eager to make 2018 the year that they finally get fit and healthy. And by February, these same gyms will be half-empty again, as resolve turns back into apathy for another 12 months (so maybe try working out outside). Don’t become part of the demoralized 92 percent who fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Try these three tips improving your goal setting.
Remove the Biggest Roadblocks
When we take stock of our lifestyle, it’s easy to come up with a long list of things we need to stop doing and those we should do better. Yet while doing so can be a worthwhile exercise in self-reflection, sometimes the sheer magnitude of the combined to-do’s can become overwhelming. So we end up doing nothing because we’re trying to do everything.
Instead, pick one to three things that are your biggest barriers to success. For some people, that’s cutting out the source of hidden sugar, such as soda. For others it’s getting more and better quality sleep. Or maybe you total up your sedentary hours and find you’re undoing your workout gains with too much optional sitting, so you decide to start moving more throughout the day. Aim to remove your biggest roadblocks first, and worry about marginal gains later.
If you’re going to achieve a big goal it won’t take a single huge effort, but rather day after day of incremental progress. Whether it’s a new race PR, getting back to your “fighting weight” or becoming a black belt, long term goals require daily effort. So rather than trying to make giant leaps, commit yourself to consistently taking the small steps needed to reach the finish line.
In keeping with this approach, it can be productive to establish milestones along the way as progression markers. So if you’re determined to get your 10K PR down by 20 second by the end of the year, aim to cut it by five seconds per quarter over the course of 2018. As you get to each goal checkpoint, take time to celebrate each minor win.
If you’re a self-starter who’s intrinsically motivated, maybe you are all you need to achieve your goals for next year. But most people need accountability to get there. Writer Thomas Oppong cited a study by The Association for Talent Development that shows people who set a regular accountability appointment with someone else are 95 percent more likely to achieve their aim than those without such support. So join a club or get a colleague, friend or family member to embrace the buddy system and train with you at set times each week. Then keep each other on the hook when you’re working out separately so that you keep the momentum going.