By Dave Smith, Fitness and Weight Loss Coach, canfitpro 2013 Fitness Professional of the Year

Don’t worry. It’s not just you. Every year, millions of people around the world resolve that this will be the year they finally get in great shape. January begins with high expectations and lots of energy to succeed. Then February hits.

The novelty of a new year has worn off and those goals that seemed so important just a few short weeks ago are now sitting on the backburner.

What happened?

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. It may seem as though life got extra-busy, and that’s why your fitness plans fell apart, but in reality, life is always busy. It’s time to approach your fitness in a new way.

It could be tempting to simply recommit to the goals you set in January, but that might be a step in the wrong direction. If they didn’t work then, there’s no reason to think they’re going to work now.

Instead, I encourage you to use these four steps to set new goals, ones that are attached to a very doable plan of action:

Step 1 – Dial Back Your Expectations

If your goal is to exercise more, to lose weight, and to get in shape, the very best thing you can do for yourself is to lower your expectations.

No, I’m not telling you to give up your fitness hopes. I’m asking you to put less pressure on yourself as you work towards those goals.

I advise clients to only take on new challenges that they are at least 90% certain they can complete. For example, if you want to go to the gym three times per week, but, in all honesty, are only 5

0% certain that you can do that in the foreseeable future, consider reducing your goal.

Set yourself up for success, not failure. Start small, with perhaps one gym workout per week, and you will build on each win you achieve.

Step 2 – Think Short-Term

Now that you’ve set a very achievable goal, you’ll want to attach a very short time frame to it. Going back to our example of doing one gym workout per week, you could commit to doing this for the next four weeks.

Why not longer?

Again, your goal is to set yourself up for success. If you can get to the gym once per week for the next four weeks, then you have the opportunity to reassess that goal. Ask yourself, “Now that I’ve done one gym workout each week for the past month, am I 90% sure that I could bump that up to two workouts per week?”

Setting short-term check-in points like this is a great way to recognize and celebrate your progress, and to make changes if needed. Long-term plans can be difficult to stick with, so stay flexible using short-term goal setting.

Step 3 – Tell Everyone

Okay, maybe you don’t have to tell everyone about your renewed fitness goals, but tell someone. Having even one accountability partner can increase your chances of success by up to 42%.

Want another side benefit of telling others about your fitness plans? You might inspire them to join you!

Step 4 – Track Your Progress

Now that you have a very achievable goal laid out, you have a short-term time frame set, and you have your accountability partner(s) ready to help keep you on-track, it’s time to track your progress.

Yes, it might be easy to remember if you did your gym workout this week or not, but it is very helpful (and satisfying) to visually see your success over time.

You can do this by checking off your workouts on a calendar or in your daily planner, but I recommend a simple habit-tracking app like Habit Bull. It’s easy to use and is free for Android and Apple phones. Just think about how exciting it will be when you have 10 workouts completed, then 20, and before you know it, you’ll have reached the fitness goal you set out to accomplish at the start of the year!


Dave is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as canfitpro’s 2013 Fitness Professional of the Year. He shares health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast at and helps fitness professionals grow their online businesses at