If you don't know where to go, how do you expect to get there?

Ignoring the lack of willpower, many people fail to achieve their fitness (and movement) goals due to losing motivation. Let’s review the pitfalls in your goals and follow up with simple actions you can take to stay motivated. To be less repetitive, ‘fitness goals’ also refers to parkour, martial arts or other movement sport.

Are your present  fitness goals…

  1. Unclear and unmeasurable
  2. Too ambitious and lacking in direction
  3. Boring and unchallenging

1. Unclear & Unmeasurable Fitness Goals

Ambiguity is a common problem with many goals and resolutions. The following means nothing as there are no benchmarks to measure what “fitter” means.

Example: I want to become fitter by the end of 2014

What do you mean by becoming fitter? How do you measure your success in becoming fitter?

Without placing benchmarks and measurable standards to your goals, you won’t know your progress. And if the mind believes there is no progress, it will be difficult to stay motivated. If you don’t know where you are going, how would you know how to get there?

2. Ambitious Fitness Goals With No Direction

It isn’t wrong to shoot for the stars with your goals and resolutions. But most people set ambitious goals without considering how they will achieve that goal by the end of the year. Eventually, procrastination sets in because ‘there is still time’. By the end of the year, you will be stuck with an unachievable goal.

3. Boring  and Unchallenging Fitness Goals

Succeeding in your fitness goals is as much willpower as motivation. If you find working on your goals a bore (or a chore), then why did you even set that goal or resolution in the first place?

What can you do to stay motivated?

If your goals fall under any of the three categories, you are sure to meet failure eventually.

Review your list of goals for the year and go through this 4-step process. The purpose here is to create a roadmap towards your goal. Don’t you think having direction to your goals will help you better succeed? Or would you rather stumble and procrastinate due to being uncertain?

1. Start with the end in mind

Visualise success and set fitness benchmarks
Visualise success and set fitness benchmarks

Close your eyes and picture what success looks like when you’ve achieved your fitness goal. Engage in all five senses and your imagination.

Now, write down at least three benchmarks (or tests) that will be used to measure your success at the end of the year. For instance, with my goal to become more physically fit, my ultimate benchmark at the end of the year is to get Gold standard for the military fitness test (e.g. completing 2.4km within 9 mins 45 secs, completing over 10 pullups and other standards).

2. Break your huge goal into small steps

If your goal is to run a marathon, start small in the beginning of the year. Schedule monthly benchmarks that become progressively difficult. Perhaps begin with 1 mile (1.6km) in the first month and then progress to 3.1 miles (5km). With running goals having a set time limit to complete your runs will also be helpful.

3. Register for and challenge yourself in public ‘sporting’ events

Spartan Race Ontario 2012 (by cogdogblog, Flickr)
Spartan Race Ontario 2012 (by cogdogblog, Flickr)

In order to maintain your fitness momentum, sign up for events like charity runs, obstacle races or parkour jams. The key is to time them a month or two apart. This ensures you don’t slack off in your weekly training.

Foreseeing a point in time where I would lose motivation to workout and run, I registered for my military fitness test (scheduled this Saturday) and the Terry Fox Run (next week). This is how I get motivated to workout and exercise. If I slack off, I risk humiliating myself by failing.

Joining public sporting events serve three purposes: (1) give your training a sense of purpose (if you get lazy, you are going to humiliate yourself publicly), (2) break the monotony of training, be able to feel a sense of achievement  and witness your own progress, and (3) meet new people who can be a positive influence to the lifestyle you want to build.

4. Acknowledge your successes (and reward yourself)

If you’ve passed your benchmarks or have done well for your public sporting challenges, reward yourself and acknowledge your own achievements. Ignoring your successes is not only pessimistic, it takes away your motivation eventually.

5. Summoning your willpower when life seems gloomy

Lean in on the Way Of Ninja community and remember your small achievements
Lean in on the Way Of Ninja community and remember your small achievements

You will come to a stage where you will experience a plateau in motivation. But don’t stop.

Stand in front of the mirror and ask if another year of stagnancy and failure is acceptable. Remember step 1 where you imagined the success of reaching your goal? Once again, visualise yourself succeeding in achieving your goals. Engage the five senses and feel deep in your gut how it would feel like to succeed. Reflect back on the small achievements you’ve made throughout the year and now choose: do you want to cancel out your achievements by giving up or push on even when life seems gloomy?

It is inevitable to experience job changes, break ups, deaths and other unpleasant situations in life. It is okay to stumble. But don’t let it get the better of you. Take the time to let out your emotions and lean in on family, friends, and the Way Of Ninja community to gain perspective. If need be, regroup and re-plan to make your goals work in the event that your responsibilities and schedule changes. Don’t give up and make it work. The fact is, you don’t know how close you already are to the destination.

Key Takeaways

Let’s take our goals and resolutions as destinations to reach. The mind needs a roadmap of where to go, and often we set goals with no clear benchmarks and pitstops to tell us we are on track. We commit to the same routine and it becomes boring. So, do the following today.

  • Make a list of monthly benchmarks for your goals (Share it with us here)
  • Join public races and sporting events to force yourself to train consistently
  • Remind yourself periodically how success would feel like and acknowledge your small successes

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