5 Tips to Help You Achieve Goals on Your Fitness Journey

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Maj. Bart Brimhall, the deputy product manager for Missile Field Development, executes a deadlift, one of the six events on the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
Maj. Bart Brimhall, the deputy product manager for Missile Field Development, executes a deadlift, one of the six events on the new Army Combat Fitness Test on Oct. 4, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

"A goal is not a destination but a journey." This is true for any goal but especially true for a physical or health and wellness goal. It's something that you may have heard before, but it's worth repeating. Why? Because it's true.

A goal is something that you set for yourself that you want to achieve. It's not something that you can just sit back, relax and expect to achieve without putting in any effort. That effort becomes the journey where personal growth develops.

Think of your goal as a journey. Like any road traveled, there are ups and downs, bumps and obstacles. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. You can achieve any goal you set for yourself, even if you are filled with self-doubt and worry about the unknown.

Here are some tips to help you keep moving forward on your journey:

1. Set Realistic Goals.

The first step is to assess yourself to discover where your strengths and weaknesses are. From there, developing a weakness requires you to start performing that weakness, developing better techniques and taking time to see where progress can be made.

If you set goals that are too unrealistic, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. However, your goals should scare you a little bit; otherwise they are not big enough.

2. Get Rid of Doubt by Doing Something.

You can't achieve your goal if you don't start working toward it. Get up and get moving. Even if you start out this journey with walking 30 minutes a day and drinking more water, just do something.

Once you have created the time commitment habit, you can grow into that slot of the day with countless options that interest you and advance you on your journey. Staying motivated is nice, but not what is needed to move forward. You will have to rely eventually on the discipline and habits you created while you were motivated.

Face it: No one is motivated every day to do what they should do. But success in achieving the goal and building newer, bigger goals depends on your initial motivation evolving into habits and discipline.

3. Focus on Discipline in Other Areas.

Another challenge to your discipline focusing on your nutrition, your fuel for fitness performance goals. To be honest, it is easy to work out an hour a day, but the other 23 hours a day of overindulging, snacking and too many extra calories can defeat the best efforts in the gym. Eating healthy foods in moderate portions will help you reach your goals faster (especially weight loss). Make sure you're eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks is a great place to start this journey.

4. Ask for Help.

If you are struggling to achieve your goal, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are people who can help you achieve your goals, whether it's a friend, family member or a professional. If you have been working hard at the gym and you are not seeing the results you want, you need to start the research process.

Don't be overwhelmed by all the options available; just pick one and start moving. Consistency is the key. And when you do not see the results and you want to make changes, continue searching, reading and watching training videos. What's most important is doing it. Get something done every day. It can be hard to admit that you need assistance, but there's no shame in it.

If you're feeling lost, reach out to friends, family or the fittest people in the gym and ask for help. You can always email me at Stew@StewSmith.com, and if I do not know the answer, I will help you find it.

5. Never Give Up.

The fifth and final step is to never give up. You will have setbacks, but it's important to never give up on your goal. If you fall off the wagon, get back on as soon as you can. Keep moving forward, and you will eventually reach your goal.

Remember why you're doing this and remind yourself that you can do it. Take small steps. If you find a workout routine that you enjoy, you're more likely to stick with it. Don't try to achieve your goal all at once; have patience and trust the process. Break it down into smaller steps that you can complete. That way, you will be making progress without getting overwhelmed.

The biggest problem for most people with a goal is finding the extra time to make improvements. Even if you lack the intensity needed at a given time, make sure you still show up. You may find that after 10 minutes of getting started -- even if lackluster -- you will feel like doing more in that same session. Just do something that day.

The journey is what will teach you to build life-changing habits and help you grow as a person. Every step you take is one step closer to your goal, and each step is a learning experience. There are no failures, only learning experiences. So don't focus on the destination; focus on the journey. Embrace the challenges of new habits and enjoy the ride. After all, building long-term, healthful habits to aid in both longevity and optimal performance is the journey that never ends.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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