Every January, people all over the world commit to exercising more and getting back into shape. But over 70% of people will give up on their goals before the achieve them, with about half of those giving up before mid-February. The most common reasons given for quitting early are that the new routine is too hard to stick to, or that people simply can’t find the time to follow through on their commitments. Here, we’re going to look at a few ways you can set your goals and become part of the 30% that achieves them.
Arguably one of the most important factors in determining whether you will achieve your goals or not is simply what they are. All too often, people set themselves completely unrealistic goals, and quickly become disheartened when they realise how long and hard a road they have laid out ahead of themselves. Whether your goal is to improve your health, weight, strength, or ability, one of the first keys to success is being realistic with what you hope to achieve.
Anytime you set a goal in life, the next thing you need to do is break it down into a list of smaller, more manageable goals. For example, you wouldn’t try to get an A in history by studying all of history. You would look at the curriculum, identify the topics you need to study, and plan a schedule to have them all done before the exam. Similarly, in exercise you don’t simply lose weight, add muscle, or get better at sport. You focus on a variety of exercises, muscle groups, or moves, and as you improve these individual aspects, you step closer to achieving your ultimate goal.
This list of smaller goals not only helps you work towards your main goal, but also helps you to stay motivated, which can be very hard to do. Tracking you achievements is therefore very important, as actually seeing a measurable difference in things like weight, time, or distance demonstrates that your work is paying off, and makes you much more likely to keep going.
As stated earlier, the first 6 weeks are when most people give up on their new goals, with time and convenience being the biggest obstacles. But these are rarely valid excuses, as most of us could get up earlier or have less downtime in the evening if we were really committed. But since it is a new routine, we will always feel more tired and sore than we are used to in the beginning. Many people then think that they can break their new routine as a bit of a reward for their work so far, but this makes it much easier to slip back into your old habits. For at least the first two months, you should stick religiously to your plan, and if you do miss a day, do everything you can to avoid missing two.
One of the best ways to ensure that you stick with a new routine is to tackle it with friends. Countless studies have shown this to be true, with one showing that 95% of people who undertook a fitness programme with friends completed it, compared to 76% of people who took it alone.
Exercising will always be more work than not exercising, and since it is something we are doing by choice, it can be very tempting to just go for the easier option. But if you power through the first stretch, pretty soon your new routine will become the norm. Once you’ve made it past that hump, you will not only be less tempted to go back to your old ways, but the effects of achieving your goals will often be enough to keep you going until the end.