It's 2019 and everyone is talking about resolutions. The New Year is great because people rekindle the hope for making a positive change. Unfortunately, the statistics show that the majority of people FAIL, with studies showing that 92% of people give up.
You are likely making crucial errors in how you choose your resolutions, and how you go about trying to achieve them. It’s my hope that this article will provide you with useful strategies to give you the best chance possible at achieving your goals.
1. Get SPECIFIC
How can you expect to achieve something if you don’t know what it is you want? Vague goals like “I just want to get fitter” are not going to cut it. A better approach is to pick a fitness task that you would like to be able to do. Example: “I want to run a 5k in 25 minutes”, or “I want to be able to do 5 strict pull-ups".
Concrete goals like this will keep you focused on the PROCESS of training. Doing a workout when you’re feeling de-motivated is much harder if there is no apparent point to it. However when you have a specific goal, every workout matters, and is a stepping stone towards your greater goal. You will also feel much more pride in yourself by achieving a specific goal than constantly aiming at an unknown target of ‘just get fitter’.
2. Have a WHY
So now you have your goal, but we need to dig a little bit deeper if this is going to work. What is really driving you to achieve this goal? Here are some examples:
"I want to improve my physical health, so that I can live a longer and higher quality of life"
"I want to improve my self confidence in my body and what it can achieve"
"I want to take myself outside my comfort zone"
For example, I train because it reminds me that I can change myself for the better when I work hard, and as a way of relieving stress. The gym is my outlet, almost like a form of therapy.
This can be the thing that gives you that extra kick up the ass to go get your workout done. On the days where you're feeling tired and realise you don't really care about getting a six-pack that much, the deeper 'why's can be much more compelling.
3. Be REALISTIC
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make at the start of January is creating extremely unrealistic goals. Wanting to run a marathon, for example, is a great goal that just about everyone can achieve. But you MUST give yourself an adequate amount of time to train. Giving yourself a month to train, while never having done any running or strength training before, is an entirely unrealistic goal (and is the cause of many injuries in running events).
Don't end up like this poor chap
Similarly, I once coached someone who decided they wanted to do a muscle up in the space of 2 months. However this person could not yet perform even 5 strict pull-ups. Simply put: don't put the cart before the horse.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking big, but be realistic about where you’re starting from, what smaller goals you will need to achieve along the way, and how long this will probably take. Trying to shortcut the process will just result in frustration with yourself and probably lead to you throwing in the towel early.
Here's an example for mini-goals to tick off before achieving the main goal of your first pull-up (in roughly chronological order):
1. Ring Rows at a 45° angle x 15 reps
2. Ring Rows at fully horizontal position x 10 reps
3. Pull-Ups with medium thickness band x 10 reps
4. Pull-ups with a thin band x 5 - 8 reps
5. 10 second Eccentric Pull-Up
6. Full Bodyweight Pull-Up x1
4. Habits, Habits, Habits
Everyone wants to talk about motivation, but it is such a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting results. I manage to essentially never miss a training day, yet I rarely feel the kind of motivation people think is necessary to make it to the gym. This is because I've formed HABITS. Highly ingrained habits remove the mental workout of deciding whether or not you will go to the gym.
A good analogy for this is brushing your teeth. It's something you've done religiously every morning (I'd hope) since you were a child, because your parents forced you to. I'd wager that you never ask yourself "should I brush my teeth today?". The reason why is because it's a habit . If you want to become the type of person who will stick to their resolution when motivation runs low, you will need to become forming habits immediately.
For example, try to pick 2 - 3 times a week that you can always train at. Many people find that training first thing in the morning works great for this because there are zero obstacles to stop you from getting to the gym, and your willpower will be at its highest first thing in the morning.
5. Accept it's going to be hard
As much as all of the above points are helpful, there is no way of getting around the fact that making fitness and good nutrition a habit is NOT easy. No matter what some bullshit article or scam artist PT will try to tell you, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You can't lose 10 pounds of bellyfat in 10 days, and you can't add 2 inches to your biceps in 2 weeks. Anything worth having takes hard work, patience, and time. This is especially true for health and fitness.
The point I’m trying to hammer home here, is that there will come a point in your day where you will be faced with two options: the hard one, or the easy one. Succeeding in your goals is going to come down to that decision, and it is up to you to muster the willpower to make the right choice for you.