How to Make a Fitness New Year’s Resolution That Will Stick — The Big WHY

Right around the end of December every year, lots of people say they want to be healthier, eat better, lose weight, gain muscle, be better, faster and stronger in the new year.

In this article I’ll give you two clear practices for how to connect your true core self (your heart) to your fitness goals, and actually achieve them this year.

As you and I know from experience, most “resolutions” dry up after a few months. We just don’t stick with them, we get discouraged, we forget, or life gets in the way.

This Google Trends chart of the last 5 years tells the story clearly. A spike in exercise and weight loss-related searches in January, then a steady decline… until next January!

So what’s actually going on there? Why is there such an enormous gap between what people say they want and their actual behavior. 

What that gap tells me is there’s something missing — people are not present to the deeper, underlying WHY. The core reason we want to be fit and healthy. Our hearts are not connected to what our heads are telling us, so the resolutions and hopes of January fade into the resignation of March.

Right on schedule at the end of March – Fast Food wins out!

Getting fit is a “good idea” and sounds nice, but when it comes down to making the sacrifices, doing the work, and changing their habits for good, most people don’t do it!

Here’s the problem as I see it: good health by itself is not motivating enough for most people to do the work and make the sacrifices it takes to have it. 

There is a powerful way to set resolutions and intentions for 2021. Here are two clear things you can do to make your resolutions stick this year.

1. Hone Your Fitness Goal

Your starting point is to articulate your health or fitness goal with specifics, and in time. 

There has been much written about S.M.A.R.T. Goals that will not reiterate here. The strategy originated in 1981, and is an effective and well-established goal-setting method.

Below are a few relevant examples of moving your goals from general to specific.

GeneralMore Specific
I want to lose weightI will weigh 150 pounds by March 1st.
I want to run a 5kI will run a 5k in 24 minutes by the end of April
I wish I had less back painMy pack pain is reduced by half in the month of January
I want to eat healthierI eat 50% less refined sugars, and 3x the servings of green veggies for 60 days, starting on January 5th.
I want to look better nakedBy the end of February, my partner sees me naked and says “Daaaaang, you look good!!”

These “SMART” goals are valuable and important, but I argue they are not enough.

Most people, and most coaches, stop here and go directly to action.

“Ok, you’re all set, let’s list out the actions to meet this goal!”

But there’s deeper work to be done here that will connect what most matters to you, at your core, to your goal.

2. Find the Big Why

Take the time to elaborate on WHY accomplishing your goal is important to you. If the goal is to lose weight, and that’s all you’re doing (depriving yourself of calories to meet a number on a scale), why would you do the consistent work to make that happen?

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale
Do you associate these objects
with your core values and passions?

Photo by Pixabay on

There’s no “juice” in a number on a scale! There’s no fulfillment in “eating healthy” when you’re miserably shoving raw kale into your face.  

There has to be a WHY behind it. So how do you find it?

Here is a sample conversation, a conglomerate of many coaching conversations I’ve had with people who have a goal, but haven’t yet identified the Big Why:

Q: So tell me why you want to eat less refined sugars and more vegetables this year.

A: Well, I know I should eat healthier because it will give me more energy. I get tired in the middle of the day a lot.

Q: Ok, so you run out of steam in the middle of the day. Why does that matter to you?

A: Well, I’m not getting much done at work in the afternoon, and when I get home, I’m too tired to really be present with my family. 

Q: Ah, so being productive at work and being present with your family are important to you. Which one would you say is more important to you? 

A: My family, for sure. I have teenagers, and I don’t spend much time with them anymore.

Q: Why is your relationship with your teens important to you?

A: Well, we used to be really close, but now we hardly talk. I’m tired after work, and they’re grumpy after school.

Q: If you had more energy when you got home from work, would that make a difference in your ability to be present with your kids? 

A: Yes, for sure.

Q: And if you ate healthier as a family, how do you think that would impact your kids?

A: Well, they don’t eat great either, since I’m too tired to cook or prepare meals. We could make it a family project – if we all ate better, I’m sure we’d be in better moods. We could even cook together! 

This is a simplified conversation for illustrative purposes, but you get the idea.

This person is now connecting their fitness goal to the core of what matters to them – their kids and family.

Eating that kale is now not just about their own health, it’s about being present with their distant teenagers, having the energy to cook, and create a project that will help their whole family be together.

Honestly, it’s hard to keep those new years resolutions in the long-term. Altering your well-trodden habits and brain patterns takes conscious, intentional planning and effort. 

Turner Family
My family is my heart. When I connect my goals to them, I have power.

You need every advantage you can get against the automatic patterns you’ve established, and getting down to your Big Why gives you an edge. 

Connect your heart to your goals, and it will tug you toward progress.

2 thoughts on “How to Make a Fitness New Year’s Resolution That Will Stick — The Big WHY”

  1. Great article. It got me thinking about how I start out with such enthusiasm and at some point I forget why my goal was so important to me. Replacing bad habits with new behavoir is easier said than done 🙂 I find that visuals help me, such as photos of my family. I agree, it’s important to get to the bottom of the big WHY.

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