The first of the year can bring a lot of pressure when it comes to goal setting and expectations you may set for yourself with a fresh year ahead. The biggest mistake that most people make is putting too much pressure on themselves with lofty goals. In actuality you don’t need the first of the year to create these goals, you can start anytime. The fitness industry tends to surge during this time of year so those in the field know firsthand what goes into goals and how to make them a regular habit.

“The biggest mistake that most people make is putting too much pressure on themselves with lofty goals.”

Recess spoke with the following fitness professionals to get their take!

Gretchen Zelek: Certified fitness trainer and the co-creator of Donuts and Pie Fitness

Gretchen says that goal setting should be an everyday habit. She goes on to say goals are rarely achieved in a day or week, she suggests creating a timeline to mindfully set your intentions in 90 or 120-day increments. 

Danielle Pashko: Author and founder of Pashko Wellness

People are wired to expect instant gratification. Pashko feels that one reason goals are hard for some is that they have something in mind they hope to achieve, but if the results aren’t happening quickly enough they think it’s not worth the effort. Danielle feels creating timelines goals is the best thing to plan ahead. If it’s a goal like writing a book that you desire, make time to do it and stick to it until it’s completed.

Paola Shah: Founder of Tucketts

Focusing too much on the end result of a goal can be a sure-fire way to set yourself up for disappointment. Many people fail to focus on what matters which is the journey; paying attention to the steps being taken could help you continue to improve.

Risa Sheppard: Master Pilates trainer and creator of The Sheppard Method

The biggest mistake is having unrealistic expectations and not taking the time to plan the steps necessary to attain the goal. A lot of people rush their ideas by and expect it to happen simply by wishing.  Take the time to organize and outline what you want to achieve.  Be realistic in your expectations and try not to give a hard timeline as to when it is supposed to happen. Remember the Universe sometimes has a different timeline than you. It happens when it is supposed to happen and letting go and letting nature take its course is the best way to enjoy the journey on the way to the destination.

Jason Kozma: Certified fitness trainer

Jason feels the biggest mistake you can make when trying to achieve goals is having “too many goals, goals not defined sharply enough, or goals that are not realistic.” He believes in setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time. Setting SMART goals to help you use these guidelines to achieve your goals and have the confidence to move forward by setting more ambitious goals.

Aimee Nicotera: Health and fitness coach

Aimee reminds us that change is hard and reminds us of one of the main reasons why setting goals can be challenging. She explains that “To create something new for yourself it takes effort, commitment, and tenacity.” Nicotera further explains that for some the easy way out is to simply never set a goal. If you never go for anything, you’ll never fail. On the other hand, a growth mindset allows us to recognize the value of setbacks and mistakes, and this drives us to improve our process and continue to strive for progress.

Denise Cervantes: Sports Performance and Fitness Specialist

Denise suggests setting goals allows you to set smaller goals that act as stepping stones towards your bigger goals. For instance, if you want to set a goal of running a marathon in 3 months, you want to start by running 1-2 miles per day, which then leads you to the next goal stepping stone, running 5-10 miles per week, and so on until you reach your marathon goal. You want to think of it like you are making a lifestyle change, making small realistic changes at a time.

Mika Morris: Body FX Sports Nutrition Specialist for Body FX

Mika explains that with people inundated with social media, online articles, hundreds of daily emails, text messages, and group chats available every waking moment, it’s easy to have a cluttered mind. “It’s important to slow down and take time out for yourself daily to focus on an objective that aligns with your monthly and yearly goals. Carving out just 5 minutes a day to get organized and make a plan for your day can be the difference between a goal and a wish!”

Samantha Parker: Certified fitness trainer

Samantha is the author of “Yoga for Chronic Pain…WTF” she shares that “neural pathways are a series of connected neurons that send electrical impulses that travel throughout the body to perform the movement, thought and our behaviors. ” She goes on to say that the “more frequently these behaviors are performed (bad habits, i.e. late-night snacking, mindless eating, not exercising, negative self-talk, excuses….) they become stronger.” Parker goes on to say that if you find yourself wanting to change and may even have a plan to make these changes, the previous neural pathways are a major player in not being able to achieve your health and fitness goals. The brain will default to the strong neural connections when life gets hectic or stressful because it’s easier to do this instead of doing something new.

Elizabeth Mooney: Creator of Country Fusion

Something that might be holding you back is the ability to break out of your comfort zone. “It is hard for some to regularly set goals because it takes energy, motivation, and they want to achieve and break out of your comfort zone.” Mooney suggests being clear with your goal and realistic. She also says writing down what it will take to achieve that goal will help you get a clear understanding of what you need.

Regardless of your goal, remember: results don’t happen overnight. Take your time, have a plan, and know you can always start again if you need to.