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Motivation

3 Ways to Enhance Your Fitness Goals in the New Year

Sport psychology tips for success.

Source: Natalia Lavrinenko/Pixabay
You've got this! Focus on the long game to achieve your resolutions.
Source: Natalia Lavrinenko/Pixabay

The end of December and beginning of January mark significant transitions as one year ends and a new year begins. People often reflect upon their successes, regrets, and missed opportunities as they plan, hope, and work for new beginnings. In fact, of the 74 percent of Americans surveyed by Pureprofile who said they would make New Year’s resolutions, 51 percent believe that they will follow through with their resolutions.

Most New Year’s resolutions have to do with health, personal development, and enhancing relationships. According to LiveAbout , almost half of the most common New Year’s resolutions relate to people’s health with things like eating habits, increased exercise, and decreased smoking and drinking. Other goals relate to personal development, like saving money, changing jobs, reading more, learning something new, and becoming more organized. Enhancing relationships among family, friends, and romantic partners are also popular goals.

Although there is a high number of people who believe they will achieve their goals, others think they will not succeed. The most cited reason for thinking they will not achieve their new year’s goals was lacking willpower . I want you to know that you have the ability to achieve success not only in the new year but throughout your life.

As a professional in the field of sport psychology, I have worked with many athletes who have set hefty goals for themselves and felt pressure to develop consistent success. This pressure results in a narrow focus in which athletes do not allow the development of smaller habits that build into long-term success and often times do not take breaks to recharge and refocus. Athlete’s goals are similar to New Year’s resolutions in that they both require commitment and focus on the long game. I want to share tips with you that have helped my clients increase confidence in their ability to achieve long-term success each time they set new goals.

Remember that going into a new year and developing New Year’s resolutions is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, pace yourself, and look to others for support along the way.

Pre-Plan

Once you decide on creating New Year’s resolutions, take time to learn about how others have been successful in achieving similar goals. Pre-planning your roadmap to success will allow you to be prepared for potential roadblocks. For example, if your goal is to increase exercise for the purpose of living a long, healthy life, write a specific schedule of when and where you will work out. This can include a specific number of days per week of going to the gym, exercising outside, or enrolling in fitness classes.

Have an alternative plan ready in case you run late for a workout or if there is bad weather that interferes with your outdoor workout plans. Home fitness equipment like Peloton or fitness apps like iFit provide excellent workouts you can do anytime. Pre-planning also includes having your workout clothes ready and pre- and post-workout meal ideas.

Cognitive Restructuring

Motivation can fluctuate depending on many things, like your mood or situations that are out of your control. When you begin to think about those things instead of your planned workout, you might talk yourself out of exercising.

Phrases like “I’m too tired,” “I don’t feel like it,” or “It’s too hard” don’t have to limit your ability to shift your mindset back into a positive space. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we use an intervention called cognitive restructuring that helps people replace their negative thoughts with positive statements. For example, the phrases listed above can be changed to:

  • I’m too tired—I have less energy today, and I will do my best during my workout.
  • I don’t feel like it—I will feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete my workout.
  • It’s too hard—This will be challenging, and I will be proud of myself each time I make an attempt to reach this goal.

It takes effort to recognize and restructure negative thoughts, and once you make a commitment to refocus on the positive aspects of your New Year’s resolutions, you will begin to learn how to lean in to consciously shifting your thoughts into self-supportive statements.

Plan Check-Ins With Others

Sharing your resolutions with others not only provides accountability, but it is also a way that you can create a support system. Fill in your friends and family about your resolutions and talk with them about specific ways they can support your goals. They can exercise with you, call you to hear about your weekly successes, or share healthy recipes with you.

Knowing that others are there to provide positive support and lift you up when you feel less confident can help increase your motivation. You can also be a cheerleader for others as they work towards their resolutions.

You’ve Got This!

Believe in yourself as you shift into the new year. Realize that roadblocks are a part of life, and our emotional GPS can help us recalibrate and reroute. Celebrate your successes as you work towards your resolutions, and be kind to yourself if you find yourself on a detour. Take time to rest, refocus, and get back on track.

Remember, you can do anything! You’ve got this!

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