Are you thinking that this month is the time to finally join a gym and get in shape? Don’t.
Here is what my research shows: New Year’s resolutions are a big motivator and many clubs tout a discounted joining fee if you take advantage in January. As a result, some gyms see an increase of 30-50% in January alone. So you will have plenty of company. By March, new member attendance shrinks significantly. In fact, 50% of all new health club members quit within the first six months of signing up (according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association)
So why would you jump onto the fitness bandwagon in January when it’s likely that it will result in failure?
You may feel guilty about the damage done over the holidays. In fact, your guilt may even expand to include bad behaviors from all of last year, involving too much food, liquor, TV/streaming watching, or general laziness. You are not wrong – overhauling poor health habits is a good thing. However, it’s a big challenge and joining a gym is too simple a solution.
Expecting too much quickly is an easy way to set yourself up to fail, and expecting that gym membership to transform your body and lifestyle is expecting too much.
There are many times when making a big change starts with a small step which is followed by other small steps. Each time you set a small goal, you are likely to achieve it. Success motivates you to move on to the next goal. Success builds upon success. It’s energizing.
By not going for a big goal all at once, you avoid disappointment and frustration. Frustration often leads to quitting. Why not replace discontent with excitement?
The key to big goals is to break them down into smaller goals. Rather than change your whole diet – start with cutting out cookies. Instead of getting an advanced degree, start with taking a class.
Starting with small goals will get you to those bigger goals. So while you won’t tackle the Boston Marathon, you will run the local 5K. And you can work up to the Boston Marathon. The thought of a total resume revamp might bring you to tears but you can create a new updated professional summary, and that’s the start of the resume revamp.
You may not be a patient person but that is what is called for. Most people want things fast but moving at a steady pace is the way to make new behavior habits and create changes that are long-lasting.
How can you ensure that smaller goals and a slower pace will work for you?
- Don’t compare yourself to others – as long as you are making progress, you are moving in the right direction.
- Believe in yourself – you have accomplished things before and this is another one of those things you are accomplishing. How long did the last major renovation in your life really take?
- Gamble a bit – playing it too safe results in very little learning and almost no growth. Risk can be scary, so make your risks manageable.
- Stay grounded – don’t create unrealistic goals. Goals don’t have to be glamorous or fantastic to be worthy and meaningful.
- Make a plan – plans help you identify what comes next and what direction you are going in. You may need a reality check – someone who can help you create reasonable steps and help ask useful questions. Plans can be changed but they exist to be followed.
Start small and work up to a spring season that has you feeling better. You won’t feel guilty that your gym membership was a bust and a waste of money and you can be in better shape.