Starting to slip up on your New Year’s fitness resolutions? Ditched them altogether? You’re not alone. Research suggests just eight percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals. In search of a better track record, we asked two Kansas City fitness experts how to stay motivated.
1. Set small goals. Start waking up at 5 a.m. to go for a 10-mile run every day! Lose 50 pounds! There’s no shame in setting lofty goals, but they can be difficult to achieve quickly, which can cause feelings such as ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘this isn’t working’ to increase and motivation to plummet, says Andrew Jacobs, sport psychologist, author of Just Let ‘em Play: Guiding Parents, Coaches and Athletes Through Youth Sports, and host of The Dr. Andrew Jacobs Sport Psychology Hour on Sportsradio 810 WHB. Instead, “set realistic short-term goals that lead to the long-term ones,” he says. Accomplishing smaller goals (today I’ll walk for 20 minutes; before I lose 50 pounds, I’ll lose one) boosts motivation and propels you toward the next goal. Do so every day, and at the end of the week you’ve accomplished seven goals.
2. Be specific and plan ahead. Vague goals—exercise twice this week—are less likely to happen than specific ones—walk 20 minutes at lunchtime today. Map out where you want to be at four weeks, eight weeks and so on to keep you moving toward your end goal, says Jason Dorssom, personal trainer at The Gym KC. We’ve all got priorities competing for our time so block out space in your schedule in advance and keep the commitment.
3. Reward yourself. Pencil in rewards alongside a few goals or milestones. New habits take work. When you accomplish them, prizes such as new running shoes, a massage, or wireless headphones, can keep motivation up, says Dorssom.
4. Find a friend. If you find it difficult to stick to your plan, work out with a friend or family member. “It makes a huge difference in getting goals accomplished because you’re not only responsible to yourself but to somebody else,” says Jacobs. Working out with a trainer can also keep you accountable, says Dorssom. Small group training sessions with a couple friends can be a more affordable way to try a trainer.
5. Have a back-up plan. Equally as important as making a plan is to plan on things not going accordingly. Stubborn scales and injuries happen. When they do, resist the urge to conclude you can’t do this or quit. Instead, focus on the positive (think about what you’ve accomplished so far), learn from the obstacle and make adjustments, says Jacobs. Even the Chiefs tweak their game plan at halftime.
6. Keep a journal. Jotting down how you feel about your goals each day can identify habits that help or hinder. Ask yourself how you feel about what you did today, if you accomplished the goal you set, and why or why not, suggests Jacobs. “Focusing on how you feel—maybe I didn’t lose any weight, but my confidence is better—along with the new habits that will get you to your bigger goals will give you a greater chance of success,” says Jacobs.