The Christmas tree has come down for another year, the countless turkey sandwiches you’ve eaten now mean that the turkey is finally finished and the next holiday feels like a lifetime away. It’s January, a time of the year to set resolutions for the coming year. But give it a month, maybe two, and I would guess that 80% of resolutions are consigned to the bin for another year (and that’s a conservative guess).
As a Personal Trainer, it’s very frustrating to see the “New Year Resolutioners” in the gym. That sounds bad, let me explain! I absolutely love the initial drive and determination to do better and improve but I hate it when March comes as I never see their faces in the gym again. Not until next year, that is.
So why is it that so many people give up on their resolutions?
It’s not to do with will-power, motivation levels, training ability or performance. It’s to do with goal setting. More specifically, it’s to do with poor or no goal setting.
Simply, those who set themselves goals are far more likely to achieve success than those who don’t. The purpose of goal setting is to envision a result, commit to it and make plans that progress you towards that result. Goals will either work to motivate or demotivate you and depending on the goals that you set for yourself. If set properly, they will keep you grounded, focused, accountable and motivated whilst poorly founded goals will only serve to demotivate and disappoint.
Here are 4 common mistakes made when goal setting…
1) Setting only one goal
Set yourself one huge goal, without the support network of medium and short term goals, and you’ll more than likely fail. It’s vital that you breakdown your big goal into multiple bitesized goals!
I want you to imagine setting goals like climbing a ladder with the ultimate, long-term goal being the top rung of the ladder. Now, there is no way you can reach the top rung without first stepping on the lower rungs and gradually making your way up. We must first establish some short and medium length goals to put the lower and medium rungs in place before we can think about reaching the top.
The main issue with setting just one goal is that you are setting yourself one giant task; a task that you are currently a long way away from achieving. When reflecting on these things the sheer magnitude of the what lies ahead can sink in and suddenly it’s become very daunting proposition leaving you demotivated and lacking confidence. However, when you break it down, suddenly you find yourself making small triumphs left, right and centre keeping you fulfilled and motivated. Instead of the focus being on mountain summit instead it switches to just taking small steps on the way up it. By using this approach, you’ll be at the summit before you’ve even had a chance to realise it!
2) Setting an unachievable goal
You’d think this one goes without saying but then again it’s still probably the most common reason for Resolutioners giving up. Fat loss individuals tend to be the most culpable for this one as often they expect a drastic shred of fat to occur after just a few weeks of clean eating and training.
When setting a goal try and find the balance between challenging and realistic. Obviously we want to hit the goal you set for yourself so ensure you give yourself a fighting chance of doing exactly that. By having unrealistic expectations and setting unrealistic goals you will only find yourself disappointed and demotivated in the end. Demotivation kills aspiration.
Take care when setting goals and ensure they are actually realistic. Is it really possible or recommended to lose that sort of weight in that time? Can you really expect to build your strength levels that fast? Think carefully and if your still unsure, speak to someone who knows.
3) Failing to Measure Progress
On your journey toward your goal, its vitally important to assess your progress through an appropriate means. If your goal is lose weight, take some measurements. If it’s cardio based, assess your aerobic fitness. Or if it’s to get stronger, test your strength levels. The reason why we must track progress is because down the line it may become apparent that you need to make some changes to either your training or goals.
Measuring your progress doesn’t have to be confusing. It can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet, creating 2 categories – one for each month and one for the test you’ve completed. Fill it in as each month passes and soon you’ll be able to look back on your previous results and access your progress.
Many individuals don’t visually see any changes in their body or don’t feel like their physical training is making an ounce of difference, and give up. If they were regularly assessing progress, they would then accurately be able to conclude whether or not progress was slow or stalled. Based on their assessments, they would then be able to make adjustments to their goal, program or lifestyle to ensure progress continues or picks up again.
4) Failing to Set a End Date
Last one and it’s a big one! If you don’t set yourself an end date on your goal, you’ll more than likely end up going round in circles. You can keep yourself accountable and motivated by setting yourself a target date for completion. You know that you can slack off but it’s at the expense of failing. Knowing this will likely keep you more motivated and complete this task before the date comes around.
On the other hand, the goal set without a specific end date will likely rumble on and on with any significant progress ever being made. This is because there is no need for urgency because you do not have a date to aim for. The more that time passes without you hitting your goal, the more demotivated and apathetic you will find yourself until you eventually give up and forget the goal even existed.
So, for a successful 2019 you should…
– Set achievable but challenging long, medium and short term goals
– Decide how you are going to measure progress and assess regularly
– Ensure you set end dates with each and every goal you set
For any further questions about goal setting, please be sure to get in touch!