Without fitness goals, you’re destined to fail

If you’re like me, you need fitness goals to stay motivated. When you have a very clear, defined target, it’s much easier to stay focused – but too often, people are aimless and become complacent with their workouts. When I was training, one of the first things I’d ask a new client was “what are your goals?” You’d be shocked by how many people looked at me blankly. Usually, they’d say something along the lines of “to get in better shape,” “to tone up,” or “to lose weight.” I’d have to prod to figure out what their true goals were. If they wanted to lose weight, I’d ask them how much they wanted to lose and what deadline they had for the weight loss.

That’s right, a deadline. In any other area of your life, goals require deadlines. Think about it – without deadlines, you can never fail. If you can never fail, then you will always be okay with saying “I’ll start tomorrow.” Your fitness goals should be no different from any other type of goal. You have to hold yourself accountable, and if you have a “there’s always tomorrow” attitude, you will never reach your goals. The truth is, there isn’t always tomorrow, and if you keep telling yourself that, you’ll wake up one day and be eighty-years-old having still never accomplished the goals you set fifty years earlier.

Kinda shitty thought, huh?

Okay, so you don’t want to be an eighty-year-old failure; how do you determine deadlines for your goals? This is up to you. The key is to be realistic. You’re not going to lose fifty pounds in a month, and you’re not going to be able to run a marathon next week if you’ve never run more than five miles. You have to be realistic but aggressive. Set goals that will require you to push yourself but that can be accomplished if you stay focused and dedicated. I really think that time is the best form of accountability.

I love having event training goals because the deadline is inflexible. For example, if you say you’re going to run a specific marathon, that race is going to happen whether you participate or not. And if you do not run it (assuming it isn’t injury related), you have to face the reality that you let yourself down. It’s a crappy feeling when you know the reasons for falling short were factors within your control.

And don’t be one of those “excuse” people – you know, the type that always has an excuse because nothing is ever really their fault. If you don’t run that marathon because you got lazy and didn’t feel like getting up for early runs, it’s your fault. Let’s be honest. Then afterwards, when people ask you how your marathon went, you have to be honest and say that you didn’t run it because you were lazy and didn’t train enough.

Now, who wants to say that?

Put yourself out there. Proclaim your goals to others so that if you do fail to meet them, you are doing it publicly – which is way more painful than failing in private. It’s human nature to try to avoid pain, and if that helps you stay motivated, use it!

I was speaking with a friend yesterday who told me that she always wanted to be a runner, but she doesn’t run. I asked her what was stopping her, and I think she really just didn’t know where to begin. As with anything, you have to start somewhere. I told her to go out and jog a mile. She asked “what if I cant jog a whole mile?” I said, “then walk for a minute and jog until you need to stop again.” That’s all. You have to start somewhere. Greatness is the product of your sweat and determination, but you’ll never be great if you never start.

I read an awesome quote this morning that really inspired me to write this post, so I’ll end with it:

Don’t stop until you’re proud.