Setting goals for the New Year

By admin 0

I like to take this time – most years at least, to write up some goals for the forthcoming 12 months. I used to be a serial list-maker, every Sunday night would involve re-evaluating my life and it became addictive. I actually remember doing this as far back as when I was in school.

I like to overanalyse nearly everything I do (one of my talents). A typical example would be if I lost in a jiujitsu competition – which happens a lot more than when I win, I would write down and scrutinise absolutely everything about my performance. This can become self-fulfilling and for a time I decided to stop doing it entirely. The results weren’t much better so I though it may be better to resurrect the list making at a more moderate routine and at least look at why maybe something didn’t work.

One of the benefits of goal setting is that it can maintain motivation and focus – and of course, build confidence when the targets are met. And if targets are not met, they can offer feedback and allow evaluation – but this involves a degree of honesty with oneself.

Types of Goals 

The main types of goals are process based and outcome based. An example of an outcome based goal is ‘I want to lose 2 stone’ – a process based goal would be ‘I will track calorie intake and work at a 500cal deficit daily in order to lose weight’. I see folks getting into trouble or losing their way when they focus on outcome based goals only. The processes are where the magic happens and setting up solid systems will be ultimately what allows the positive outcomes to occur.

It is a good idea to establish the big targets and from there work backwards to where you are currently and then determine what needs to be done to get there (‘bridging the gap’). It can also be useful to get the advice of friends and family if needed or someone slightly more objective, like a coach or a personal trainer.

When I am planning my own goals, I like to set some for different areas of my life. The common categories are Personal / Professional / Health but I like to delve a little further and at the moment I have set my own goals for the following areas…

Health / Financial / Professional + Educational / Personal /BJJ 

As I mentioned previously, there will be some overlap here but that is the way all of this works, nothing is black or white or entirely compartmentalised – but being clearer in each area creates more focus for me.

Defining goals 

I recently completed a Sport Psychology course in IADT and there was a big focus on goal setting in the syllabus. With goals, one of the main things is that they should be measurable and have an end point. This can be daunting as it means we will get very clear feedback if we fall short but honesty is key in making progress of any sort.

There are various acronyms for goal setting, the following are the most common…

  • Specific
  • Challenging
  • Action-based
  • Measurable
  • Personal


  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed
  • Realistic
  • Task-focused

Try to implement these components when setting your own for greater success.

Common pitfalls 

Keep it simple!

Where I see people fall short is in being vague and having no way to measure or no specific end point. Being vague doesn’t allow feedback. When you work backwards from your end point, establish some milestones and a time frame for these. Also, if you know someone that has reached where you want to be, look at what they do – mirroring their behaviours can help lead a clearer path towards your goals.

Trying to make too many changes at once. The New Year is great for renewing motivation for folks and an eagerness to go on the attack but all too often this overzealous approach leads to frustration as there are just too many things to address and change. It is far more realistic to approach the year with a solid plan that can help override lagging motivation and much like dietary changes, it is better to make some small changes initially to increase the risk of compliance and build confidence. Then from there, start to tackle bigger changes.

Being Impatient. Depending on your start point, making changes can take more time. Consistency is key and it is far better to establish some solid patterns and routines early on and build momentum over time than trying to make wholesale changes all at once and then burn out by February. This is where a coach can help evaluate your goals and determine a realistic timeframe (and plan) to work with.

Write it down

I like to WRITE down my goals. There have been numerous studies showing the effectiveness of writing goals down as opposed to just thinking about them in terms of increasing the likelihood of success. For longterm goals I will write them down and file them away somewhere to look at in a years time but I will keep my smaller milestones in more regular view so that I have small reminders to help keep me on course.

This may seem like a long commitment but a year goes by quickly. I always get a kick out of this process as usually I don’t realise how much I have done in the previous 12 months and often times things can take an interesting change of course. Again, this underlines the importance of not thinking in absolutes – if we fall off track for whatever reason, it shouldn’t take us too long to get back as long as we have mapped a course originally. Much like resistance training, or training in general, progress is rarely linear.

So, what are your goals and targets? In terms of members in the gym here, I will be checking in with everyone but I would really recommend writing down your own goals across various areas of your life and allow your imagination to dream big and once you do, keep the enthusiasm there as you reverse engineer and plot a course to work towards them. Small changes and establishing systems and habits are key for when motivation inevitably wanes – your autopilot can take over and stay on course! Best of luck for the New Year!

author: admin