The first quarter of each passing year produces a common scenario in gyms the world over. Right after January 1st, there's an influx of new members; eager beavers out to conquer their 'New Year's fitness resolutions'. By the end of the first quarter, many have vanished from the premises. Midway through the New Year, the membership often resembles that which it was at the end of the previous year. It gains a small percentage of new faces who were usually familiar ones at a gym they'd attended previously.
Why do so many good intentioned people give up on their 'New Year's fitness resolutions'?
I believe there are two main reasons:
1. Lack of a clear and compelling body improvement goal.
2. Lack of an effective strategy for reaching a goal when one is set.
Set a Clear, Concise, and Compelling Goal
I doubt if anyone wanting to build a beautiful house in the country would attempt doing so without a blueprint. Likewise, most people would not embark on a major vacation without having a clear idea of where they're heading. So why are fitness and physique improvement so often mired in ambiguity within the context of intended outcomes?
Many individuals take their New Year's fitness resolutions too lightly. It's easy to do when the negative consequences of backsliding on such goals aren't immediately realized. If you tried to build a house without a blueprint, the financial loss, wasted time, and humiliation would be felt quickly and definitely. Similarly, going on a far-off vacation without a planned destination could produce nearly the same pronounced and lingering pain. Fitness and body improvement obviously don't create the same levels of painful embarrassment for intended outcomes only partially realized. This makes New Year's fitness resolutions easy to take lightly while challenging for which to set clear goals.
But clear, concise, and compelling goals they require. To stay motivated, you need to feel excited about where you're going. Do you want to gain ten pounds of muscle? Do you want to lose twenty to fifty pounds of body fat? How exactly do you want your reflection to appear when you see it in the mirror after accomplishing your goal.
Use an Effective Strategy… that includes a Feedback Mechanism
I think one of the major reasons people don't set clear goals in the context of fitness is that they're often not sure if they're aware of an effective strategy for reaching the goal. After all, if you set a goal and you fall short on designing and implementing a strategy for reaching that goal, it can feel more like failure than if ambiguity reigned all along. This is how gym-goers end up being "dabblers" in fitness. They end up going through the motions and hoping some action, however haphazard, is better than no action at all. I mention this to you with the twenty-twenty hindsight of my own long-gone experience.
But you need a definite and effective strategy for reaching any goal. You also need it for staying motivated beyond the first two or three months of a body improvement quest. This strategy needs to include a built-in feedback mechanism so that you can make adjustments to your tactics (which are basically the building blocks of your strategy).
If you're tired of 'New Year's fitness resolutions' that never materialize, I urge you to make 2009 a different year. Create a clear, compelling, and exciting goal for yourself and then adopt or design a strategy for making it a reality. Maintain your flexibility in moving toward that goal by ensuring that the strategy provides you simple and useable feedback.
The bonus: When you have the two above-mentioned tools in hand and begin making a habit of adjusting to feedback until you've achieved what you'd set out to, the habits of a high achiever can become etched into your subconscious - and your very physiology.