Do New Year’s Resolutions Even Work?
We all know that goals are effective and important tools in achieving what we want out of life.
A new year’s resolution is simply a goal set out at the beginning of the year. Yet, for some reason, it seems that new year’s resolutions leave us short of expectations nearly all of the time.
What’s the deal with that?
Well, the biggest flaw with new year’s resolutions is that they are goals set out at the beginning of the year, and then left by the wayside and forgotten. In the words of the famous infomercial salesman Ron Popeil, we simply “set it, and forget it!”
So, within just a few months time, we are asking ourselves, “what new year’s resolution?”
New year’s resolutions have become embedded in our culture, yet only 8% of the population felt they were successful in achieving those resolutions. So, rather than avoid this most-popular goal setting time of year, we choose to embrace the new year’s fitness resolution and discuss how to harness their power so that they work for both you and your personal training clients.
Review the Past Year’s Goals and Objectives (for 2019)
Before getting into 2020 goals, start out by reviewing your client’s goals and objectives for 2019 to understand what went well and what areas require more focus.
Revisit the new year’s resolutions that were made at the very beginning of 2019 to figure out what happened throughout the year that either helped to reach their goals, or caused them to drift further away.
History tends to repeat itself, so, unless we can figure out what needs changing, we’ll be hard pressed to change and find ourselves in the same spot at the end of 2020 – wondering where things went wrong.
S-M-A-R-T Goals are the Way to Go
As personal trainers, we know that we should always be encouraging our clients to set SMART goals.
A SMART goal is one that is:
- Specific: A goal should be narrow and well defined. Goals that are too broad leave too many variables open to interpretation.
- Measurable: Goals require concrete criteria to measure progress. Without such measurements, it’s nearly impossible to know whether the goal is on track.
- Attainable: Overreaching and setting unattainable goals is sure to demotivate and derail even the most ambitious personal training client.
- Realistic/relevant: The goal should be realistically achievable with the means available and relevant to the individual. Taking someone else’s goal and applying it directly to your client is only asking for failure.
- Time-bound: A goal should have a definitive and limited time frame. The effort to achieve goals that are not bound by time can literally go on forever – never seeing the success the client is after.
Use rewards for positive reinforcement
Have your clients made significant progress towards reaching their new year’s resolution? Come up with a reward system to help keep them motivated. Train your clients to make wise decisions that put them on the path to success.
Get creative. Special and memorable ideas like this will always keep clients coming back for more.
Empower the client and put them in charge
In most cases, you only work with your personal training clients 3-5 hours each week. The rest of the time, they are out on their own surrounded by temptation.
That’s why, the goal as a personal trainer should be to empower your clients so that they are able to make wise lifestyle choices even when they are not in a session with you.
It may seem counter-intuitive to some, because you may feel inclined to keep your clients reliant upon and addicted to your advice in order to avoid losing them as an ongoing stream of revenue. However, customer service and happy clients should always be top priorities, which means giving them what they paid for – results and knowledge.
Offer your personal training clients the support they need to hit their new year’s fitness resolutions, but be sure to put the power in their hands. It is important for them to take ownership of their goals, as it keeps them accountable and makes them feel involved in the progress they make.
Make reaching 2020 goals a competition
Staying accountable is best done with a partner or others who are like minded and share similar goals. We all know that whenever someone is checking in on you to make sure you’re keeping up with your promises, you’re much more likely to put in a greater effort towards achieving those goals.
If your clients are familiar with each other, ideally through group classes or as referrals, it is often a great idea to come up with a new year fitness challenge. Results can be tracked and shared periodically over a period of time, announcing the winner at the end of the competition.
Competitions can keep things fun as well as exciting, helping to differentiate your personal training services from the crowd.
We often see personal trainers and gyms starting the new year with 90 day fitness challenges, either for weight loss or muscle gain. However, it is up to you as the personal trainer to understand your client base and to come up with creative ideas that will benefit them most.
A new year means a fresh start
Closing out one year and starting out the next one on a good foot is critical to creating a sense of success throughout the year. So, as you discuss and plan 2020 goals with your clients, be sure to also set out a detailed game plan using the steps above to ensure they are getting the most out of their time and personal training sessions with you.
What are your 2020 goals? What goal setting tips do you have for other personal trainers and their clients?
(*Note this article was originally published in 2017, and subsequently updated for the current year).