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Goal Setting for the New Year

  • 03-01-2023 4:42pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,361 ✭✭✭

    Most of us, whether a beginner or more advanced, will be looking to make some kind of positive change for 2023.

    Here are some tips I've found have helped myself and my clients with ensuring that the resolutions don't go the way of most people's (in the bin by February).

    Start Smaller Than You'd Like To

    Your goal should seem 'too easy'. That's because it will make the barrier to you forming a habit as low as possible.

    So instead of 'I'm going to give up sweets'. You could instead just cut out the snack you have in the middle of the day.

    Instead of 'I'm going to start training 3 days a week' , just do one day. After a month of consistency, you could then move to two. Consistency is king for forming a habit and getting results.

    This is really important because you need momentum, and that requires a lot of effort to get the ball moving. Once you have that habit formed, the ball rolls effortlessly. Most people fail because they set a goal that requires pushing a very heavy boulder up a mountain. We want to start by kicking a pebble up a small hill.

    Get Specific and Measurable

    Being vague gives you an out for when things get hard. If your goal was to 'just get a bit fitter', then there's no way anyone can really say whether you did that or not, and so you get to protect your ego. Though that initial vague goal is fine, you do need something more specific to hold yourself accountable. For example, you might say you want to improve your running fitness and your strength. There are then things we can use to measure that, e.g. max running distance, weight lifted, etc. This also gives us a baseline to measure where you're starting at, and whether you're improving.

    Set a Timeline

    This is more about creating some urgency. Whether you make the deadline exactly is secondary to the discipline it creates. There's a reason why people who sign up for fitness events like powerlifting meets, charity runs, etc tend to make more progress. They know that if they slack off, it's going to be on show to others come that date.

    Be Realistic

    A few years ago, I had a couple of middle aged men in the gym I worked in come to me with a goal of getting a muscle up by Christmas. It was currently October, and neither of them could do a single full range strict pull-up or dip (the two base components of a muscle-up). This is an example of a pointless goal. The timeline is too short and the rate of progress required is far too steep.

    Now it's okay to have lofty goals, but they should be set for far in the future. Kind of like a horizon to keep your eyes on. You need things that are very attainable to shoot for in the short term. So if your goal is to do 5 pull-ups, and you can currently do zero, then your first goal should be to get stronger at easier pulling exercises (e.g. band assisted pull-ups, lat pulldowns, rows). Then you would go for your first pull-up, then two, etc.

    Keep Yourself Accountable

    The main reason people get better results with a coach is not because of the programme they put them on, the techniques they show them etc. It's literally because you now have someone standing next to you who can call you on your bullsh*t. We underestimate how much we let our effort slip when others aren't watching.

    Accountability can be created in many different ways, depending on your own preference. Coaching is one example, but there is also having a training partner, keeping a training log, following a programme, etc.

    Hopefully that helped. I would really stress starting much easier than you think, as it's the months after this when it becomes socially acceptable to give up on stuff again where the struggle will really kick in.