With a new year approaching, many of people are thinking about their resolutions. Typically, these include a number of health- and fitness-related goals; lose 20 pounds by April, run a 10K, complete a sprint triathlon, etc. While it's extremely important to establish goals, it's even more important to develop a road map to help you achieve them.
Simply listing your resolutions on paper isn't enough, here's how to create and implement an action plan to help you succeed.
Set Specific, Attainable Goals
Determine your top two or three fitness goals, then follow these steps:
- Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Driven)
- Write your goals down and put them somewhere you'll see them every day such as the bathroom mirror or your computer screen
- Share your goals with a support team; training partners, coaches, family, friends, co-workers
- Re-assess your goals periodically to ensure you're progressing appropriately (every 4 to 6 weeks)
- In the words of strength and conditioning coach Dan John, "The goal is to keep the goal the goal." Essentially, stay the course and don't lose your focus
Start off Slow
When you're ready to put your action plan in motion, start with simple goals and progress slowly. "When you engineer early success, you engineer hope. Hope is precious to change and will fuel you," (Switch by Chip and Dan Heath). Starting off slow will give you hope that you'll be successful, and help you build the momentum you need to stay on track.
It will also help you transition back into a routine. If you took some time off from the gym during the holidays, you need to ease back into exercise, just like a professional athlete coming back from an injury or time off. Slow, steady progress is better than no progress at all. We must crawl before we walk and walk before we run.
Now that you have the right mindset, it's time to create your plan and take action. To do this, you could hire a trainer, try one of the countless routines on Active.com, or follow an online program like this one.
Choose the strategy that works for you, devise your plan, and figure out how to track your progress. Measurement equals motivation, and if you don't have a program in place, it will be much more challenging to gauge your development, make appropriate adjustments, and ensure consistency. These are all valuable components that will lead to results.
Once you have your game plan, it's go time. Check the excuses at the door and get moving. Lack of time, which is a common excuse, is simply a lack of priorities. You must make your health a priority in your life. As humans we're goal-driven creatures; tap in to what inspires you, put your plan in motion, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. No excuses.
Stay in shape this season; sign up for a fitness class.