‘New year, new me’ is a statement often ridiculed within fitness circles.
“You should live a healthy, goal-orientated life all year round”, the fitness bro’s will say.
I don’t sit in that camp.
I believe that any ball of opportunity for enhanced motivation that’s thrown your way should be caught and ran with all the way to the end zone.
What upsets me is the thought of someone like you having a burst of inspiration, thinking about setting some new goals and then shying away from them because of what other people might think.
One of the most powerful quotes that was said to me this year, as I went through some massive changes in my personal life was:
“Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter won’t mind.”
It was my sister who said it to me and it was a light bulb moment that made me realise I’m in total control of my circles.
Those who truly care about me will stand by my side through thick and thin. Those who don’t will jump off the ship at any sign of trouble or controversy.
The same is true for you.
And once you’re comfortable with the fact that some people close to you simply aren’t going to be on board with your new path, you can move forward with a true sense of freedom.
Change is a funny concept. Most of us humans are resistant to it from one extent to another. It makes us feel uneasy and, oftentimes, even scared.
Something my flat mate at university used to say all the time is:
“The only thing that stays the same is change.”
Similar to becoming comfortable with people not always standing by your side in times of hardship, once you accept that everything around you will constantly change you can dictate your own direction knowing that things will change all around you, irrespective of whether you make the decision or someone else does.
If things are going to change in your life, it may as well be you making the decisions, right?!
Whether you want to lose some weight, take up a new sport or embark on a new career path, cool. Go for it.
You’re in charge of your life and you should apologise to absolutely nobody for seeking to improve your circumstances.
With that said, setting new goals and deciding upon your new direction are the easy bits.
Sit down for ten minutes with a pen and paper and I’m sure you’ll have something fairly concrete.
However, sticking to the path you’ve decided upon and continuing to work towards your new goals once that initial burst of motivation has dissipated is where the task becomes difficult.
The easiest course of action is to accept you’re “too busy”, the task is “too hard” or that your current circumstances aren’t actually “that bad” and so you’re okay sticking with them.
Now, those decisions aren’t the worst thing in the world. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to decide that your life is actually decent enough as is and the effort you’re having to put in to get to the next step’ is detracting from your current levels of happiness to much to actually make it worth it if you eventually get there.
What’s not okay is to throw the towel in because you’ve lost a bit of motivation and it’s the easy option.
Here’s what I suggest you do to make sure 2020 is your best year yet:
1. Set SMART goals
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
Most goals are far too vague when they’re set.
“I want to lose weight.”
Cool…but how much weight do you want to lose? When would you like to lose it by? Do you even have that amount to weight to lose without compromising your health? Are the amount of weight you’d like to lose and the timeframe realistic for you to achieve?
Once you’ve taken those questions into consideration you’ll likely find your goals will change a little. Maybe they won’t – it not, great.
Once you’ve settled on your goals you can then work backward.
2. Reverse engineer your progress
Say you’d like to lose 12kg (purely for the sake of simple maths).
That easily works out as 1kg of weight loss per calendar month.
But that’s assuming your progress is linear. In my experience, that’s never the case.
You’ll likely fly out of the traps in January and February, run out of steam a little in March, go on holiday in April, get the flu in May, etc.
Your weight loss progress will be somewhat of a roller coaster. That’s okay. In fact, it’s entirely normal.
But let’s plan for it.
An example of how you could lose 12kg, whilst taking your life into consideration could be:
Net weight loss
Reverse engineering your year allows you to factor in the times your weight is unlikely to be positively impacted (i.e. a dip in motivation in March, a holiday in April, another holiday in August and some months when life gets in the way – work, family, injury, illness, etc. – and you tread water, focussing on maintaining the progress you’ve achieved up to that point).
3. Reflect daily, weekly or monthly
Reverse engineering is as simple as goal setting; ten minutes with a pen and paper.
But it’s just as easy to lose sight of if you don’t revisit it often.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to reflection and it’ll be dependent on how challenging your goals are and how much time you have to spend on them.
But the most important factor in goal setting – in my not-at-all humble opinion – is accountability.
Create a spreadsheet, but a notepad, get a whiteboard for your living room wall – whatever you think will work – and write your goals on them with a space for tracking progress beside them.
Then, every day, week and/or month, sit down and get your scores on the doors.
Don’t be scared of writing your scores down if they’re not pretty.
This should give you a kick up the backside to get back on track.
Burying your head in the sand and ignoring the fact you’re behind is a surefire way to fail.
4. Map your year out in quarters
Now that you’ve set SMART goals, have reversed engineered your year and are regularly keeping score, it’s important to objectively evaluate at semi-regular intervals.
It’s too easy to lose track of your end goal, particularly when things are either too easy (goals not challenging enough) or too hard (goals too challenging).
Toward the end of every quarter, sit down and figure out where you are.
Are you on track? Are you ahead? Are you miles behind?
Either way, it’s okay.
Try to keep your emotions out of this process and be totally objective.
If you’re on track, keep on trucking.
If you’re ahead, you can either take your foot off the gas a little and settle back to your original plan or make your end goal a little more aggressive and keep your foot down.
If you’re behind, have an honest conversation with yourself about whether your goals are realistic/achievable enough or whether you’re putting enough effort in.
If they’re not achievable or realistic enough, make the goalposts wider and set a new goal that you’re capable of achieving based on your lifestyle and current effort levels.
If it’s an effort issue, you’ve got two options:
- Get your finger out and work harder.
- Set a new goal that your current effort levels are going to allow you to achieve.
As I said at the start, January gives us a great opportunity to really harness all of the complimentary motivation that’s floating about in the atmosohere.
Do it, don’t be ashamed of it and take the time to map out your journey.
For a bit more on changing the intensity at which you work toward your goals, check out Lewis’s Transformer Wagon post; it’s a belter.
…and if you’d like help getting started, or stepping your training up a gear, click here.