So, you’ve decided you want to get fit and healthy in 2018. Maybe you’ve just decided that you want to kick your exercise and diet habits into the next gear. You might even have goals of competing in some form of competition. Whatever it is, 2018 is your year.
Unfortunately, completing a goal is a very different picture to making one. How many goals have you settled upon only to never fully realise? I’m betting there’s quite a few. This is exactly why we’ve put together some of the best tips for staying on track with your fitness resolutions. Let’s make 2018 the year of productivity and achievement.
- Make Sure Your Goal is Clear and Meaningful
The first thing to do after setting your goal is to make sure that it’s precise. “Losing weight” and “gaining muscle” are two very ambiguous terms. How much weight do you want to lose? How much muscle do you want to gain? When do you want to do it by? Do you want to get good at anything else in the process such as a specific sport? All of these questions need to be answered so you know exactly what you’re chasing.
Secondly, the goal needs to be meaningful. Sometimes it can be all too easy to create a goal for other people or a goal we think we should achieve opposed to something we want to achieve. You need to make sure that your goal has some relevance and meaning to your life in order to ensure motivation and success.
You’ll also want to make sure that the goal has some form of sustainable or long-term effect upon your life. Sure, you might want to lose X amount of pounds before your summer holiday, but you also need to make sure you keep those pounds of afterwards. If you start hitting the gym, try to find something you enjoy and feel like you could keep up year-round. Think about the period after your goal has ended to keep you feeling happy and healthy for longer.
- Put It in Writing
After you’ve fully focused in on what your goal is, putting it down on paper can help solidify your attention. With many of our thoughts, keeping them cooped up in our mind means that they can easily become buried underneath other thoughts or create stress because we feel pressured to remember them. Putting it in writing helps to acknowledge and realise your goal, taking the pressure off your mind but creating a clear focus for you to work towards.
So, now you’ve got your start and end position, the next step is working out the journey in between. If you’ve ever played a racing game, then you’ll know how invaluable checkpoints are. In games, checkpoints are almost mini-finish lines which you pass through that save your progress and act as a starting point if you crash or fall off the map. In life, setting mini-goals as checkpoints can act in a similar fashion.
For instance, say you want to lose 20lbs by April. That equates to 5lbs a month. Aiming for 5lbs of weight loss by the end of the month is much less daunting than 20lbs. Plus, once you hit that 5lbs, you get a sense of achievement from achieving your mini-goal on the way to your big goal.
Now, let’s say you get halfway through February and you’ve lost 8lbs, but there’s a few birthday’s coming up and by the end of the month you’ve accidentally gained one or two pounds back. So, now you’re 6lbs down when your goal was 10lbs. Instead of thinking “ahh well I’ve gained some of the weight back. Who cares anymore? I might as well give up!” You can refer to that first checkpoint of 5lbs. You don’t still have to lose 20lbs, it’s only 15lbs which is much more manageable.
Mini-goals break up your bigger goal into easier-to-handle chunks to provide more motivation and a chance for a morale boost when things get tricky.
- Set Reminders
Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who loves to exercise and gets paid to do so, life can easily get in the way of our health and fitness goals. This is why it’s so important to set reminders for yourself to keep on track. Try posting sticky notes around the house in places where you often find your mind becoming busy. The fridge, back of the toilet door, bathroom mirror, and inside your food cupboards are all good ideas. They don’t need to clutter your life or make your home look ugly, but just provide a gentle nudge throughout the day.
- Make it Social
When we’re the only ones we know about our goals, it’s much easier to let them slip and slide. When you’re the only one who’s accountable, then giving up doesn’t have that many consequences. It’s much less effort to let ourselves down than it is to let others down. That way we’re the only ones who know that we’re a failure.
However, when you make your goal socially known then other people will want to be updated, checking in with you and asking how far along you’ve come. If you’ve got this grand goal of achieving something specific but are starting to lose motivation, now you know others are counting on you. Nobody wants to appear like a failure or admit defeat in front of their friends and family.
As well as this, having a workout partner can make exercising far more enjoyable. When you’re going to the gym by yourself, you might just go through the motions. When you add in another person who can push you, talk to you, give you tips, and share in your struggles, you no longer feel alone in your efforts. This is a common reason why people hire personal trainers as they’re essentially fitness friends whose job it is to make sure you succeed.
- Keep to a Schedule
By this point you should have a clear goal and a route of how to get there. From here, you need to work out how to fit it into your lifestyle and stick to that schedule. If you have time to work out on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, then make sure that you stick to those days. If you’re feeling a little tired on one of the days, don’t think “ahh, I’ll skip this session and make up for it later” because that later will never come.
At the start, sticking to a firm schedule can be a little tricky because you’re most likely familiar with it. You might not be used to preparing meals so often or exercising frequently, but after a while it’ll just become part of your routine; part of who you are. That’s the trick to success: take something that used to be abnormal and make it completely normal so that it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary and easy to skip.
- Keep it Interesting
In the journey towards your goal, there are going to be times when things get a little bland. The excitement will wear off, the new habits will lose their sparkle, and you’ll get a little bored. This is normally the point where people start to lose interest and give up.
However, all you really need to do is shake things up a little. If you’ve been eating the same meals on the same days, week in, week out, then try to learn some new and exciting recipes you can stick to. If you’re growing a little tired of your exercise routine, then add in some new exercises, see if there’s a class you might be interested in trying or a sport you might want to give it a go. As long as it’s in line with your goal, then give it a go.
- Allow Yourself Some Set-Backs
With every decision that creates some form of change, there’s going to be set backs at some point. They might be big, they might be small, but when they occur, you need to know that it’s not the end of the world. Ditching your goal at the first sign of trouble is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t accomplish their goal. They think that because something’s gone wrong, then the whole journey is wrong. Yet, success lies in perseverance. There will be times where you make the wrong decisions, eat the wrong food or skip a workout session, but this doesn’t mean you should abandon ship. Stick with it, keep going, and you might be surprised by what you can accomplish.
- Don’t Go in Half-Hearted
The last point is possibly the most important. Never start your goals half-hearted. If you’re going in already thinking there’s a chance of failure, then you’re betting against yourself. You need to trust in your journey and fully commit. Going in half-hearted means that you’re open to the idea of not achieving your goal which means that you’re more likely to take the easier options or the choices not conducive to your success. With any goal, you need to start knowing you’re going to reach the end.