Welcome to 2022 with PhysioCentral! It’s a brand new year in which many people are filled with optimism and excitement for a great year ahead – and one in which they aspire to finally reach their health and fitness goals. When it comes to these goals, however, data from the US of over 800 million user-logged activities found that:
- In 2020, exercising more was a goal for 50% of people, and losing weight was a goal for 37% of people
- The majority of people are likely to give up on their resolutions by January 19
- For those that do continue, only 7% completed or stuck to their resolutions
While the level of difficulty of the goal can influence their success or failure, a big reason that resolutions are seldom fulfilled is also attributed to their vague and murky nature. On their own, our goals are simply a mental representation of the outcome we desire, while goal setting is the process we use to identify specific, actionable goals and work out how they will be achieved. This means the way you set and articulate your goals may directly influence their outcome.
So, how should you structure your goals to set yourself up for success? Research on goal setting in recent years has yielded evidence-backed strategies for helping people set and achieve their desired goals,, and we’ve simplified this research into four easy steps to help you make 2022 your best health and fitness year yet.
One: Set SMARTER Fitness Goals
There are numerous ways that you may choose to structure your goals. Do you want to focus on the actions you should take, like working out three times a week, or the actions to avoid, like hitting snooze, sleeping in and missing your gym sessions? Should you focus on getting a certain result, like losing a set weight, or on a skill to be developed, like learning how different types of exercise affect your body so you can use that at every workout? The answers to these questions are important because they can influence goal achievement.
The acronym SMART has long been used for goal setting, meaning that good goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. In recent years the acronym has been extended to SMARTER to capture some additional factors:
Be clear and concise about what you want to achieve, and discard any ambiguous words or phrases that may be open to interpretation. Using numbers can help you be clear.
- Bad goal: Exercise more
- Good goal: I will exercise four times per week, every week
A goal should be measurable so you can easily determine if you’re on track, and if you’ve completed it.
- Bad goal: Lose weight
- Good goal: Lose 5 kgs in three months or reduce my body fat down to 20% by the first of September.
In this example, at the halfway point of the goal, you will be able to measure whether you half lost 2.5kgs or are on track to having your body fat percentage down enough to meet your goal by September.
Your goal should be something that you are theoretically capable of achieving if you wanted to, meaning that you already have – or it is possible for you to have – the resources to achieve the goal.
- Bad goal: I’d like to start running, and also successfully finish a marathon in one month’s time
- Good goal: I’d like to start running, and complete my first marathon in nine months’ time, attending weekly training with my sports physio or running coach
Whether your goal is realistic is usually judged in the context of whether the goal is relevant, appropriate or sensible for you given your unique set of circumstances and your values.
- Bad goal: I’m going to complete a 45-minute strength and cardio workout 5 times per week by setting up a home gym and purchasing all the gym equipment.
- Good goal: I’m going to complete a 45-minute strength and cardio workout 5 times per week by getting a gym membership at the local gym around the corner.
In this example, outlaying tens of thousands of dollars on gym equipment may not be realistic – and you may not have the space to set up a suitable home gym. Getting a membership at a gym that is easily accessible may be much more realistic and therefore better set you up to succeed.
Give yourself a specific timeframe to complete the goal or work towards it.
- Bad goal: Attend regular Pilates sessions at The Pilates Practice this year
- Good goal: Attend two Pilates sessions at The Pilates Practice every week, for the entire year unless I’m on holiday or sick.
We know that when things are in front of our eyes, we are more likely to think about them and act on them. That’s why regularly evaluating your goals – especially longer term ones, can help set you up for success. Some people choose to review their goals daily, while others may do so bi-weekly, weekly or fortnightly.
- Bad goal: set a six-month weight loss goal, create a roadmap and milestones to get there, but only revisit the plan at the halfway point and at the six month mark.
- Good goal: evaluate how you’re tracking every week compared to your roadmap, and make small changes as needed to keep yourself on track.
We touched on it in the last ‘good’ example where you can make changes to help keep yourself on track. Readjusting means that you tweak your method or techniques to help you overcome any barriers, take into account any new information you’ve learnt, and better position yourself for meeting that goal. Small regular changes are a lot easier to implement than occasional big ones.
Two: Create An Action Plan
Action plans specify where, when, and how a goal will be implemented. A SMARTER goal is a fantastic goal setting strategy, but it won’t lead to any action without a clear plan around how to do it.
If your goal is to go for a 30-minute walk five days per week for the next four weeks, then your action plan may include:
- Where: On my way to work, and in my neighbourhood on the days I’m not at work or am unable to walk to work
- When: Leaving home at 8am to get to work by 8.30am. If I can’t walk to work, between 7-7.30am in my neighbourhood.
- How: Wearing sneakers and bringing my work shoes with me to change into when I get to work.
Three: Find An Accountability Partner Or Personal Trainer
An accountability partner knows your goals and your plans to achieve them, and holds you accountable for your performance regularly. They may check in with you on a weekly basis, send you motivational messages – or may even share your fitness goals with you so you can reach them together. If you don’t have anyone that can be your accountability partner, you could engage a personal trainer, fill them in on your goals, get their help and have them check in with you at your weekly sessions. Having an accountability partner that joins in your exercise or a personal trainer may also provide some social motivation, which has been shown to make it easier to stick to your goals and increases your likelihood of success.,
Four: Get Help From Your Physio
Physiotherapists have extensive knowledge in the anatomy and function of the body – and how it responds to exercise and the forces applied during fitness activities. To get you started towards your goals in the best way, your physio can complete a comprehensive assessment to help you understand where weaknesses or restrictions are present, so you can account for these when setting your goals. Your physio can also help you optimise your fitness performance, and help you recover from any pains or injuries along the way.
For help with your fitness goals, book your appointment online or call us on +852 2801.4801