Goals Were Made to Be Crushed: 5 Tips for Making Your Fitness Goals Happen

Do you work out because you want to or because you have to? While many people will answer “both,” there’s typically one reason that wins out more often than the other. Knowing which side you land on will help to determine your motivation and persistence when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. Here are five tips to consider when setting those goals.

Change your mindset

If you’ve spent years focusing on the negative parts of exercising, it’s time to make a radical shift and change the way you view fitness. When you’re stuck and not making progress on a goal you’ve set, limiting beliefs—which happen as a result of a fixed mindset—are usually to blame.

Instead, try approaching your health with a growth mindset, which will allow you to focus your energy on small gains and achievable and sustainable goals, as well as help you discover what intrinsically motivates you.

For example, rather than giving the same argument as to why you’re never going to reach your fitness goals (fixed mindset), take inventory of all the positive things you have going for you and make a list of how they are going to help you hit your goal (growth mindset).

Plan and prepare

Designing an exercise program with your needs in mind will help make fitness a lifestyle, and not just something you do to get in shape. This is where the use of SMART goals comes into play: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Take some time to set a specific overall goal, with several mini-goals to help track progress and keep you motivated. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Performance-based goal. You may find that a performance-based goal motivates you a whole lot more than a goal that focuses solely on getting fit. For example, you overall goal can be running a 5K or half-marathon. And then you can set smaller goals that help get you to race day. A few examples of mini-goals might be running three days a week, increasing mileage by 10% each week, stretching and weighting train to help improve running performance, or improving your 5K time.
  • SMART criteria. Make sure your overall goal and mini-goals meet the SMART criteria before you begin your fitness program. Is your goal Specific or clear and easy to understand? Can you Measure progress? Is your goal something you can Attain? How Relevant is it to your life? Are the goals Time-bound (do they have a deadline)? Write the answers to these questions in a place you look at every day. Put them in your phone, write them on sticky notes, draft them in a letter to yourself that you look at each morning. Whatever system you come up with, make sure it is assessable and motivational.
  • Reward yourself. Attaching your goal to a reward is another way to increase motivation and help develop a “stick-with-it” attitude. Find a reward that is realistic and makes you feel good about yourself. And if you need a little extra incentive, go ahead and reward yourself for the mini-goals as well as the overall goal.

Have patience

Whether you want to lose weight, gain strength, run a half-marathon, compete in a Spartan race or simply increase your overall health and wellness, it’s important to remember that those achievements take patience and perseverance.

We’re all excited at the start of an exercise program, but the reality is, there are going to be days when you just don’t feel like working out. And when those days creep up on you, try not to beat yourself up. Remember, any positive change will make a difference. Keep inspirational sayings at your desk, in your phone or at home in your kitchen, or try something totally new on the days you lack motivation. Sometimes changing things up interrupts the negative message in your head.

We all fall off the fitness wagon at one point or another; the important thing is that you figure out what caused you to hop off, learn new ways to confront and overcome those roadblocks, and get back on track.

Find your tribe

When was the last time you trained with a partner? How about jumping into a class or participating in a group setting? Surrounding yourself with likeminded people who encourage you to achieve your goals can be a huge motivator—especially when your plans start to derail. Whether it’s a running group, a spin class or an accountability buddy who meets you for a 5am strength training circuit, connecting with other people has numerous benefits.

Your fitness community can be as small as one other person or as large as a gym packed with boot campers. The key is finding the support system that is right for you. Not only can this community help you stick to an exercise routine, make your workouts more intense and enjoyable, and encourage you to make positive choices, they also help create an emotional bond that goes far beyond working out. The community that fitness creates is one of the most important things we can gain from working out.

Have fun!

There are thousands of ways to be active and improve your fitness level. Finding what makes you happy will increase the likelihood of adhering to an exercise program. The more fun you have with fitness, the less likely it will feel like a chore.

Sometimes the simple act of movement, or just being active, is enough to keep you consistent and motivated to reach your goals. Schedule in a “free day” that does not include a set program such as going to the gym, running a certain amount of miles or hitting the usual spin class. Instead, use this day (or two) to just enjoy being active. Go for an impromptu hike, swim in the lake, play soccer in the yard with your kids, take a dance class, go on a bike ride. In other words, focus on fitness as part of the journey, not a destination.