In the heart of Dhaka, Naveed, a seasoned entrepreneur, stood in front of his office window, reflecting on the year that has passed. Despite his success in business, his personal health has taken a backseat. Like 80 percent of people who fail to maintain their New Year’s resolutions, Naveed’s past fitness goals have been washed away in the chaos of meetings and deadlines. He promised that things would be different this year.
Naveed’s story is not unique. In fact, a study by the University of Scranton claims that only eight percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, with many losing momentum by February. But why do so many fail, and how can busy professionals like Naveed succeed?
UNDERSTANDING FITNESS GOAL FAILURES
Every January, gym memberships skyrocket, but by February, attendance drops drastically. This decline is often due to setting vague or overly ambitious goals. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 50 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions, but fewer than 10 percent successfully keep them for more than a few months. The challenge is even greater for entrepreneurs like Naveed, who have limited free time.
SET GOALS THAT ARE CHALLENGING BUT ATTAINABLE WITHIN YOUR CURRENT FITNESS LEVEL AND LIFESTYLE. PUSHING YOURSELF TOO HARD CAN LEAD TO DISAPPOINTMENT AND BURNOUT.
SETTING SMART FITNESS GOALS
Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) fitness goals allow you to assess your efforts, celebrate your milestones, and adjust your approach as needed.
Replace ‘lose weight,’ with ‘lose 10 pounds in 3 months through a balanced diet and exercising thrice a week’. This specificity provides a clear roadmap. Don’t overwhelm yourself with multiple goals at once. Prioritise specific factors to ensure a more focused and dedicated effort.
Turn ‘eat healthier’ into ‘increase daily fruit and vegetable intake to five servings’. Quantifiable metrics allow you to track progress and celebrate success. Employ trackers, apps, or fitness journals to monitor your workouts, calorie intake, or distance covered. Seeing progress fuels motivation.
Set goals that are challenging but attainable within your current fitness level and lifestyle. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to disappointment and burnout. If running a marathon seems daunting, set intermediate targets like completing a 5K first, then a 10K. Smaller wins keep you motivated and build confidence.
Identify your primary driving force. Is it improved health, enhanced strength and endurance, managing stress, boosting confidence, or simply feeling better physically and mentally? Is it to prevent specific health issues or feel confident in a swimsuit? Ensure your goals are meaningful and directly connect to your motivations, but at the same time, do not force yourself into activities you dislike. If you hate running, focus on swimming or cycling, making fitness enjoyable and sustainable.
Give your goals a timeframe, such as ‘lose 5 pounds by the end of the month’ or ‘master 10 yoga poses by summer’. Deadlines add urgency and create a sense of accountability. Plan regular progress evaluations monthly or weekly. These assessments allow you to adjust your approach if needed and celebrate achievements along the way.
SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT, TIME-BOUND (SMART) FITNESS GOALS ALLOW YOU TO ASSESS YOUR EFFORTS, CELEBRATE YOUR MILESTONES, AND ADJUST YOUR APPROACH AS NEEDED.
ASK FOR SUPPORT
Support systems are key. A study by the American Society of Training and Development found that individuals have a 65 percent chance of completing a goal if they commit to someone. Professional guidance on exercise programming and nutrition is invaluable, and accountability partners or groups keep you on track. Look for programmes that cater specifically to your lifestyle and offer tailored support.
INTEGRATE FITNESS INTO YOUR BUSY LIFESTYLE
Integrating fitness into a busy schedule is challenging, but not impossible. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. This could be as simple as a 30-minute brisk walk, five times a week. Short, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions are also time-efficient for those with packed schedules.
In our programme, ‘Fitness & Lifestyle Coaching for Busy Professionals’, we ask people to invest only 90 to 160 minutes weekly to achieve their desired fitness goals while staying at home. I always suggest incorporating strength training with cardio exercises.
Achieving fitness goals isn’t just about physical health. The American Psychological Association reports that regular exercise improves mood and boosts productivity. For busy people, this means not just a healthier body but a sharper mind and more energy to tackle daily challenges. So, what is stopping you from taking the first step towards a fitter, more productive life this year?