by Dr. Dan Shuman
Fitness Resolutions: Drop 10 pounds. Quit smoking. Stop cursing. With each New Year, there is a sense of necessary change that overcomes most of the population: the New Year’s resolution. The gyms are filled with people determined to make this the year they succeed. However, a recent survey found that 35% of Americans break these resolutions by the end of January. It is very common for people to fail at their resolutions simply because their goals are just too big. The problem is easily identifiable but the planning and groundwork to gain the goal and avoid failure is rarely addressed, much less put into place. Here are a few tips to help make the new year one where where your resolutions can be achieved with abundant success.
Fitness Goal Setting Basics
Key #1: Turn big ambitions into smaller daily behaviors. According to the American Council on Exercise, one of the keys to success is to turn grandiose ambitions into a couple of specific and attainable goals. If the goal is to complete an Ironman competition, it’s probably best to break the Ironman goal down into a set of races, progressively building on the distance each time. The same mentality can be used with losing weight, getting back in shape or learning a new language. As with all goal setting, it’s also important to be very clear on how the goals will be accomplished and address why it’s necessary to accomplish them. If there is not a good and meaningful reason, then it’s probably not a good resolution to embark upon in the first place. Without a powerful reason, when the going gets tough, you’ll quit.
Key #2: Plan for setbacks. Once the goals are laid out with an action plan to tackle them, there’s one thing to remember: setbacks will occur. It’s important to understand that it is simply a setback, don’t ditch the entire effort. To do this, review the positive progress that was made and feel good about it. The goal is set. That’s positive progress. It’s pursued for 10 hours but things fell apart at hour 11. That’s still positive progress! Look back on how good things were going while achieving the goal and use it. Quitting and giving up is easy; perseverance through struggles is what gets you over the hump and back on track.
Key #3: Reward success. One of the critical parts to achieving larger long term goals is to reward each intermediate goal. As each is achieved plan for the next step of the process. Because so much energy is placed into the attainment of one thing, once a race or event is completed, there’s a feeling of loss. Once it’s done, avoid the feeling of loss by celebrating the accomplishment and planning for the next phase of your process. Go out for a celebratory dinner. Buy a new gadget to help track progress. Do something to mark the end of one stage of your plan and the beginning of the next one.
Jeffrey Lackner, a professor at the University of Buffalo and famed bio-behavioral researcher once wrote in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, “Human performance literature indicates that the goals one sets for task performance influence the performance itself.” Utilize these keys and your New Year’s success should be within arm’s reach. Besides, the gym will be back to normal in February anyway, so stick it out!
Dr. Dan Shuman is a Georgia native and has lived in Atlanta for the past six years. He is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of LaGrange College and a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Life University. He is nationally certified Active Release Techniques Instructor . His practice, 1st Choice Sports Rehab Center, was named “the Top Sports Rehab Facility” in the Southeast by Competitor Magazine.