Have you set your New Year’s resolutions yet? Here we are, we have finally made it to 2012, and I have this feeling that it is going to be the best year ever! I don’t care what those pesky Mayans say about the end of the world. I’ll leave that doom and gloom thinking for others.

New Year's resolutions give false hope and are easily broken every year. You should be setting goals instead of resolutions.And what happens to me after the first of the year?

I start to hear from all those people who are setting New Year’s resolutions. And I cringe.

Back up a second, did I just say that I cringe? Yes, I do. Let me explain.

New Year’s Resolution Failure

You see, when I was working at XYZ gym here in Fort Collins, I saw what New Year’s really means to the fitness industry. It means hordes of people coming in and buying memberships with all the best intentions. The gym’s coffers are being infused with cash and everyone is happy.

But do you know what happens every single year?

A good 40% of those people are not coming back after a month. And that figure jumps to 60-70% in 6-8 weeks.

That’s a lot of people wasting money and having unfulfilled goals.

According to a 2007 British survey of over 3,000 people, 88% of these people who were surveyed did not achieve their resolutions.

When someone tells me they are setting resolutions for the New Year, I get highly suspicious. Do they have the discipline to carry through with these resolutions? How are those resolutions set up?

For me, the word “resolution” in and of itself is a negative concept. We have all become conditioned that New Year’s resolutions can be broken. When I am setting out to accomplish something, I like to use the term “goal” instead. To me, goals are meant to be achieved. Resolutions can be broken.

How To Set Goals Instead of Resolutions

So here is my checklist for setting fitness goals:

1.  Focus on one goal at a time, rather than several. Multitasking has been proven to be a losing proposition in the long run. When you have 100% focus on one goal, then all your energy will be used to achieve that goal. You are not spreading yourself thin. Why are you going to attempt to lose weight, quit smoking, and give up coffee all at once?

2.  Don’t wait till New Year’s Eve to set goals. Make it a year-long process, every day.

3.  Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too big a step all at once. See paragraph #1 of this checklist. There is the quote, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

4.  Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you that you have to report to. You both can make sure that you stay on track and not quit.

5. Set short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals for the entire year. You are not going to lose 30 pounds in 6 weeks. It’s just not going to happen. Instead, tell yourself that you are going to lose at least five pounds in a month. That is a short-term goal.

6.  Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait until the end goal is finally completed. You are accomplishing goals along the way, and it’s imperative that you reward yourself.

7.  Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits. I will be addressing this in a future blog. If you are not mentally prepared to achieve a goal, then you are never going to achieve it. I have seen this hundreds of times in my profession.

8.  Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, to move you towards your goal? Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally, and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future.

9. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS! It has been proven time and time again that those people that write down their goals are more likely to achieve those goals. And post your goals where you will see them EVERY, SINGLE DAY! Usually when you make a New Year’s resolution, you only have one and don’t write it down.

10. Share your goals with others. When you share your goals with others, then there is an expectation from them that you are going to do what you set out to do. I guess it’s peer pressure in a way. You wouldn’t want to let down those people that you shared your goals with, do you?

I truly want to see you accomplish your goals for 2012. I want you to take the first step by commenting on this blog about what your goals (not New Year’s resolutions) will be for 2012. Go ahead and share it with the world!