How to Set Yourself Up for Fitness Success This Year

How to Set Yourself Up for Fitness Success This Year

From making new year's resolutions, to choosing a word of the year, there are so many ways to mark the beginning of a new chapter and take time to intentionally reflect on what we want the next era of our lives to look and feel like. Since our health and fitness is an important part of our overall well-being, we’re going to talk a little bit about how to set yourself up for fitness success this year.

Setting specific goals is important (and we are going to talk about how to do that!) but this piece goes beyond the goal-setting component. That’s because often the first real challenge is figuring out what success means to you, not just going along with someone else’s version. 

If you’ve never thought about this before, it can be helpful to use a free-writing exercise to help you articulate this. Set a timer for 12 minutes and start writing. Don’t worry if at first you have nothing to write on the page. You might even write that! If you’re new to this kind of reflection activity you might find yourself writing something like “This is such a silly exercise. How is this going to help me? I don’t know what success means to me…” Just keep writing. The act of this kind of free-writing helps open up our subconscious, where many of the deeper answers to what matters to us live, so you might even be surprised by some of the answers the more you write!

Once you are clear about what success means to you, it’s time to move into goal setting. Most of us know it’s helpful to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, that is goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. But what many of us haven’t been taught is that at its core, our desire to achieve a certain goal is usually because of how we want to feel at the end of that accomplishment (or how we think we will feel at the end of that goal). 

Once we understand this, we can use this piece of information to create a very clear picture of how we want to feel while achieving our goal, not just at the end of it. This helps us actually enjoy the process of reaching our goal, not just the end accomplishment of it. Enjoying the process in turn helps ensure we actually follow through on our commitment. It’s kind of like using psychology on yourself––and it works.

As you write out your new year's fitness goals, take the time to make them specific (because yes, it is helpful to know very specifically what we are setting out to accomplish), but be sure to also write out how you want to feel while you are accomplishing them.

Sometimes it's helpful to write these “feeling states” in the present tense, almost like an affirmation. For example you might write something like, "I feel so energized and strong practicing Pilates three times a week.” Then, whenever you’re feeling less than motivated to follow-through on your plan, you can tap into the feeling state you created for yourself. 

Now that you have clearly defined what success means to you, set specific goals, and tapped into how you want to feel, it’s time to follow through on your action plan, or the specific things you are going to do to make your goals a reality. There are two things that can really help you follow-through on your plan: Bringing in play and letting go of perfectionism. If you are someone who can get a little fixated on something going an exact, specific way, make an effort not to get bogged down with doing it in an exact, specific way, or every little thing unfolding exactly the way you imagined it. 

Instead try to view your action plan as a structure to support you and embrace that some of the specifics might change along the way. Be sure to make having fun a priority as you work on accomplishing your goals and check-in with yourself to make sure you are feeling good. 


What other practices are you using to set yourself up for fitness success this year? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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