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Goals: Making personal breakthroughs by eliminating burnout

How many times have you had a goal that you were SO excited about and started out guns a blazin', with an "all in" attitude, and feeling of, "I can totally do this"! Feeling proud of your commitment to make a change, you follow a strict plan for a few days or weeks, and slowly the newness wears off, you realize it's harder than expected, the "I can't do this" attitude creeps in and you give up.... And, what does that feel like? Total failure, right?

New Years resolutions, most of which focus on weight loss, are probably the best example of this - "I'm going to lose 30 lbs this year". With a vision of achieving something that's going to make us feel great, we tend to make ambitious and ambiguous goals. In reality, keeping up is not reasonable due to family, work, and busy schedules. Burnout happens, and when we give up, our confidence takes a hard hit. And, every time we fail, our belief in our ability to succeed the next time we try diminishes. There's actually a term for this: false-hope syndrome. Setting ambitious and ambiguous goals makes us feel good in the moment. It improves self image and creates a feeling of being in control. But what happens as time goes by and our goals still feel so out of reach? We get disappointed and ultimately give up.

So, what's the key to making a breakthrough? Setting modest goals and taking small, manageable steps to achieve them. Goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). Yeah, I know, smart goals, blah blah blah, we've all heard that before, right? Yes, I agree, no breakthrough here, but most times we underestimate the time, energy, and resources required to achieve what we set out to do. With a lofty weight loss goal, people often say they will spend more time exercising than they really can, or that they will change their eating habits more than they can tolerate. Life changing goals don't happen overnight. It takes time and consistent effort. With SMART goals, you can be sure that you’re setting yourself up with attainable and achievable benchmarks that can lead to your success.

  1. Specific - Your goal must be clear and easy to understand. As a trainer, the most common goal hear is "I want to lose weight". Break it down. How do you want to achieve that? By modifying your diet? In what way? By exercising more? How often? Define it and it will be easier to manage.

  2. Measurable - As stated above, a goal of losing weight isn't enough. If you are not clear, you cannot track your progress. You must quantify your goal to make it measurable. How much weight do you want to lose?

  3. Attainable - A goal that's too easy is not motivating. Challenge yourself, but don't be too extreme. Losing 1-2 lbs per week is reasonable and attainable.

  4. Relevant - As you set your goals, stay true to you. Consider where you are at in life and what's most important to you. Don't let peer pressure or society influence who you are or what you want to be. Are your goals relevant to you?

  5. Time-bound - Always have a timeline for achieving your goals. Deadlines motivate and keep us accountable.

A few things to keep in mind as you plan your goals:

  • Avoid setting too many goals: remember - manageable and achievable - do not overwhelm yourself

  • Avoid setting negative goals: Setting negative goals puts focus on the behavior to be avoided, not the behavior to be achieved. It's important to focus on achievement, not avoidance. As a very basic example: If your goal is to stop missing workouts, reword it in a positive way: "I will attend all of my scheduled workout sessions this month."

  • Set short-term and long-term goals

  • Revisit your goals on a regular basis and make modifications as needed

Most importantly, we need to lose the all or nothing thinking. Progress over perfection. If you miss a workout or have a bad eating day, do not judge yourself as falling short. No one is perfect, but the timing to start again always is. As always, we're in this together and I look forward to empowering you each step of the way! For more help, contact me directly at

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