How to Set and Achieve Fitness Goals in the New Year

How to Set and Achieve Fitness Goals in the New Year


On New Year's Eve, millions of people watch the clock strike midnight, which signifies the opportunity for a fresh start in the new year. No matter what happened last year, you have the chance to adopt better habits and hit new goals in the months ahead.

One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to improve fitness and exercise more. Building fitness is about willfully challenging yourself on a regular basis, embracing discomfort and strenuous activities to improve physical and mental well-being. Achieving fitness goals requires consistency, discipline, sacrifice, and departure away from the habits that have provided comfort in the past.

It all starts with setting goals, creating a plan and doing the work.

Focusing on fitness will lead to a longer and improved quality of life. Here are a few tips on how to set and achieve goals this year.

Start with "Why"

The "why "behind your desire to change is powerful when the going gets tough.

Sustaining progress with fitness goals across the long term is challenging. Becoming more intentional with why we want to change allows us to deploy a higher level of discipline and motivation.

Why do you want this change? If you’ve had failed attempts at hitting fitness goals, why is this time going to be different?


SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

The more specific your goals, the more detailed and effective your plan can be. Being particular about defining your goals allows you to establish a plan to move you toward those goals efficiently and effectively. Too many times, people follow the wrong plan for their goals. They end up somewhere else altogether.

If you want to build more muscle in the New Year, allocate sufficient time to resistance training. If the goal is to increase flexibility, including flexibility drills is essential. Being specific about your goals allows you to fine-tune the action plan toward those goals.

Keep goals measurable and attainable within a reasonable time frame. Chasing lofty goals with an unrealistic time frame can derail your confidence and become overwhelming if progress slows.

For example, setting a goal to lose 120 lbs in 6 weeks is extreme and unrealistic, yet so many people put themselves in a tough spot to create momentum and confidence when the goals are too aggressive for the timeline. You can push the limit with timelines, but the timeline must factor in your capacity to sustain the unmitigated daily discipline and habits required to make it happen. The bigger the goal, the shorter the timeframe, the larger the effort and sacrifice.

Fitness is best built by avoiding extremes and opting for gradual and steady improvements.

Changing the timeline of the weight loss goal above changes everything. Instead, a person could say they wish to lose 120lbs over a year (or longer). By setting a realistic time frame, the individual can establish a plan of attack that can be measured and sustained throughout the year. With a more manageable timeframe, you can celebrate milestones while re-focusing on the next leg of the journey.

Goals should be challenging but attainable. Attainable goals allow you to make small and intentional daily changes that will equate to achieving those goals. Over time, with consistency and repetition, those small changes evolve into habits and become your new operating system.

Specific and attainable goals, a focused plan of attack, realistic time-frames combined with checking in on progress, and staying flexible to making any necessary adjustments is a sure-fire path to earning your best fitness and body.

Mental Chatter Matters

One of the biggest problems with New Year's resolutions is how quickly people fizzle out. You're gung ho about changing everything in the first few weeks, then crumble at the first sign of resistance. Missing one workout turns into missing a second, then a third, then not working out altogether.

Changing the chatter in your head can make a huge difference. Instead of creating a list of reasons you can't squeeze in a quick workout, saying, "I have to workout today." Opt for, "I've been sitting all day, my body is rested, and I get to workout today."

Swapping one word in a sentence changes everything about your outlook. The reality is, many people around the world would love to have exercising be the worst part of their day. It’s all perspective.

Unchecked mental chatter can become overwhelmingly loud and sabotage goals if you let it run wild and succumb to the narrative. Our minds can build us up or break us down. Flipping the script can shift your mentality can give you the boost needed to get the work completed for the day.

Apply Pressure, 1% Improvement, and Small Wins

Here's a hard truth: You won't achieve big fitness goals in one day, one week, or one month.

Fitness is a gradual, and sometimes slow process. When it comes to achieving fitness goals, people grossly underestimate the time and effort required to accomplish those goals.

Remember, however long it took to fall out of shape, it’ll likely take a similar amount of time to get back into shape. Embrace the idea of delayed gratification, which means accepting that regaining fitness is a long-term process. Fitness goals are achieved by getting one percent better every day. Commit to moving the needle in a positive direction bit by bit.

Aim to get 1% better each day. With 1% improvement type thinking, you’re chasing small wins that produce massive transformations.

  • Trade caloric heavy beverages for water, coffee, or tea.
  • Learn how to cook simple nutrient-rich meals versus opting for processed junk.
  • Swap sitting for standing and moving more (walking, etc.).
  • Include 2-3 days of total body resistance training per week.

Small wins add up to massive improvements over a month, two months, six months, and a year.

Do the Work

You've set your goals, established a working plan to achieve those goals, now comes an essential ingredient—the work.

Consistently putting in the "work" separates success from failure. There's no substitute for hard work. People underestimate how challenging it can be to put in consistent work across the long term. Anyone can ride the motivation train and ramp up their efforts for a few weeks, but can you sustain it for months and years?

Do what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.

How you handle the hard days that tempt you to fall off track will set the tone for the remainder of the journey.

Do not falter. Do not give in to "easy." Stay the course, make time and find the energy to get the work done. Getting the work done builds character, not just fitness. The simple act of sticking to the plan will spill over into other areas of your life.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.

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