Being in the fitness industry, one would assume that talks of goals and ambition would be endless. And while gyms may be crawling with people nowadays, I’ve encountered more people than not who claim they “don’t have a goal, they just want to get healthy.” I think part of this is because people don’t want to set themselves up for failure. Take New Year’s Resolutions for example. Only 8% of people actually stick with their New Year’s resolution. Most of us have been part of the 92% who create a lofty goal, only to be disappointed a few months later when we realize we aren’t quite following through with the dedication it takes to achieve our goal.
However, I truly believe that goal-setting is not over-rated. The trick is setting goals with achievable time frames, and goals where you can measure your progress. I have a client whose goal is to lose 40 pounds by her 40th birthday. This is a great goal, because she has a specific number that she wants to reach, and a specific and realistic time frame for when she wants to reach it. She can check her numerical progress every couple of weeks to make sure she is on track. Additionally, this client wrote her goal down. Studies have shown that people are 50% more likely to achieve their goals when they are written down. The best part about this client is that she realized the steps that reaching her goal would take. She signed up for personal training, competes in exercise challenges at work, and she checks in with me to hold herself accountable. She has seen amazing results so far! So take it from her, setting a specific goal is nothing to be scared of, it’s a healthy and necessary part of growth and improvement.
In order to figure out why we are afraid to set goals, we need to look at where we have failed ourselves in the past. Our problem is with the follow through. In my opinion, society’s obsession over instant gratification is to blame. We live in a world where everyone wants everything immediately. We post a picture online and instantly get emotional gratification through “likes”. We get hungry and can drive our cars up to windows to instantly get a meal and satisfy our cravings. It makes complete sense that when it comes to fitness and health, people want results instantly. The problem is that fitness is not as simple as posting a picture to social media or going through a drive through. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and hard work. And that turns people off. This is how fad diets become so successful! They promise people fast results in exchange for very little effort. Think about going on a low carb diet. Like I said, as a society we are totally obsessed with instant gratification… so you decide to cut out all carbs. You lose weight (mostly water and muscle) and are pleased with your almost instant results. However, when real life sets in and you realize that a low carb diet isn’t worth the low energy, fatigue, and feeling hungry all the time; the scale begins to creep back up, and usually doesn’t stop where you started. You are left disappointed, and feeling like you did something wrong because you couldn’t keep up with a carb-deficit.
In reality, we need to stop expecting instant results for something that we know takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I truly believe that most people over-estimate what they can do in a month, and under-estimate what they can do in a year. If you give yourself the time to improve upon a certain aspect of your life, I promise you will see results. The key is not giving up when you don’t see instant results. It takes time. Keep working. You will get there.