I recently read an article titled New Study Finds 73% Of People Who Set Fitness Goals As a New Year’s Resolutions Give Them Up. The top reasons that people quit is listed within the article. The top reasons were:
1. It was too difficult
2. Too hard to get back on track after they fall off
3. It’s hard to find time
Reading about these 3 areas did not surprise me at all. I think we all can relate to the feeling that it is just too difficult to keep doing, or that it is too hard to get back to it once you slip, or that we just don’t have the time to devote any longer.
But if we analyze these a little more, there are a few key takeaways that might help us overcome these common obstacles. Hopefully we can gain some perspective and give us an advantage when striving for a new goal.
A question comes to mind immediately when I read these. Why did you set a goal if it would be very difficult to achieve? The answer is easy. We set goals that challenge us because the outcome that we hope to receive is significant. The outcome or result from succeeding is something that we desire.
While this is the most common way to set a goal, setting a goal based on the outcome that we hope to achieve oversimplifies the actual steps to get there. It jumps over the difficult parts to the reward. It shifts from the pain caused by working hard to the pleasure felt when we succeed. But unfortunately the pain is still there as we work to change and improve. A better strategy is to learn how to set process goals that attack the difficult, often painful process of improvement.
Start out easy
If it is too difficult to follow the current path towards a goal, then there is a simple solution. Start out easy. Work on very easy things that you can do to slowly start to improve. While this may seem like an exercise in futility it can be extremely advantageous if you take into account one factor. That which you do over and over can become a new habit.
If you focus on how to make it easy to move towards your goals and then put all of your effort into solidifying the habit, you can start to make progress towards your goals automatically.
Be lenient with yourself
I learned a long time ago that I can’t guilt myself back to working on my goals. It doesn’t work for me. I get too negative and caught up in the fact that I fell off. Yet even today when I start to lose focus my first reaction is to feel guilty and negative.
I found a better approach to be more lenient with myself. By saying that slipping from a new routine is normal and that I can erase the negative aspects by simply getting back to it tomorrow I make it easier and more positive to get back on track. It helps take those slips and limit their impact on my overall goals. Instead of meaning that I failed at reaching my goals, it might just delay reaching the goal.
Work the new goal with small steps
One thing that I notice as I try to achieve new things is that it never feels like I have the time for it. I can’t imagine how I will be able to suddenly add in time working on my goal. But instead of setting large goals that require a significant time commitment, break the goal down into very simple, small steps.
By breaking down the goal into a series of small steps, you can reduce the time necessary for each step. Focus on building a new habit with each step instead of pushing yourself as much as possible. Pushing yourself through sheer willpower gets old and studies have shown that willpower is actually limited, which might account for us slipping so often.
Focusing on improving the systems and habits in your life is the best way to move towards success. It shifts your energy from willpower to habit and helps to overcome many of the top obstacles that we face when trying to reach a new goal.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Instead try and learn from it. If it is too difficult, make it easier (even if that means slightly less effective over the short term). If you fall off, figure out how to get back to it as quickly as possible with very little guilt. If you don’t have time for the full amount, find a way to make very short steps towards your goal. If you are able to overcome the top reasons that people quit on their goals, you will give yourself a much better chance at success!