It’s almost spring, which means we’re about one-fourth of the way into the new year. A few months ago, you probably had lots of expectations and excitement for a fresh start and another opportunity to set goals and make progress in your physical fitness.
However, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably forgotten about most of your goals by now. According to some recent statistics, “less than 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions each year.” (1)
But, don’t let those dreary statistics get you down. You can still achieve your goals for 2021 with a little dedication and hard work. With these three helpful tips for achieving your new year’s resolutions, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier, and more successful 2021.
After years and years of setting new year’s resolutions on December 31 and then forgetting about them by January 31, you might start to think that setting goals just doesn’t work for you – but that’s not true.
Don’t get tricked into negatively thinking that you are the problem – that you just don’t have enough self-control, or that you’ll never achieve your goals.
The truth is, it’s not you… it’s your goals. Many people who make goals for the new year make a huge list of 20 things they want to improve. On that list, you’ll find things like “eat healthier,” “call my parents more,” “save more money” and “do more exercise.”
Although all of those things are great ideas, they are not great goals. If you want to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions this year, set SMART goals instead.
What are SMART goals? (2) SMART is a mnemonic that stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound and Trackable
If your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound and trackable, you’ll be much more likely to actually achieve them.
So this year, instead of setting the goal to “do more exercise,” set a SMART goal: This year, I will do 30 minutes of exercise Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 8am.
That’s a SMART goal that you’ll be able to achieve.
“Go big or go home” might not be the best idea when setting goals. Although we all like to dream big, setting goals that are unrealistic and almost unattainable is not a great way to start the year.
Dr. Chevance, a researcher who studies goal-setting, suggests “set precise, dynamic goals that are not too easy but realistic.” (3) In his recent study, he discovered that adding 10% more activity to your daily average is a good way to set a realistic goal.
If you add just 500 steps to your daily step goal, you’ll be more likely to stick to your goals than if you decide to add 3,000 steps. Adding 500 steps to your daily step goal is a SMART goal that you won’t forget about before February.
The study suggests that “the best exercise goals are those that remain just a little out of reach.” (3) Many people don’t achieve their goals because they are not realistic. This year, don’t let that be you. Set SMART goals that are realistic and achievable and you’ll be sure to achieve your 2021 fitness goals.
Alright, now that you’ve made SMART realistic goals for 2021, you’re ready to start achieving your goals. Here’s three helpful tips to get you started:
If you don’t write down your goals, you will forget about them. To stick to your goals – write them down…then stick them on your wall. Or on your bathroom mirror, on your dashboard, or make them the screensaver on your phone. The more you see your goals, the more you’ll be able to remember them and stick to them.
And after you write them down, make a plan. Antione de Saint-Exupery famously said “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Make a plan of action to achieve your goal. Since you’ve already made SMART goals, making a plan will be easier.
Let’s go back to our example goal: This year, I will do 30 minutes of exercise Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 8am.
A good plan would be deciding what type of exercise you’ll do for each of those days. You could say, “Monday, I’ll go on a run for 30 minutes, Wednesday I’ll do a home workout from my fitness app, and Friday I’ll lift weights and do bodyweight exercises.”
It’s also good to have backup plans, for example, you could say, “if on Monday I don’t feel super motivated, I’ll walk for 15 minutes then run for the rest of the time.” That way, you’ll be less likely to skip a day.
But if you do skip a day…don’t give up! You can always get back on track and keep working towards your goals if you miss a day, a week, or even a month. What’s important is progress – and you’ll only progress if you keep going.
So, if you miss a couple of days or even a couple of weeks, take a look at your goals, readjust, make a new plan, and get started again.
Having specific goals will help you be able to visualize yourself achieving those goals. Visualizing yourself being successful is a great way to use positive thinking to keep you motivated to accomplish your goals.
An article from Goodnet says, “creating a clear idea of our dreams sets ourselves in motion to work toward those goals. Through visualization and other manifestation techniques, we define our goals clearly, leading to a better chance of success.”
So before crumbling up your list of New Year’s Resolutions and throwing it in the trash, try these simple tips to stick to your goals and make real changes in your life this year. You can make big changes in no time and take control of your health and fitness today.