When it comes to your wellness and fitness goals the best way to achieve a successful outcome is to plan properly. Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 5 sharpening the ax”. There is actually NO record of him ever saying this, but nonetheless the point of the adage is that being prepared lends to a more successful fitness journey. So what are 4 of the most important things you want to leverage for your fitness journey?

1. S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

SMART Goals stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY. Personal trainers and nutritionists regularly employ this technique while developing fitness routines or nutrition programs with clients. It helps to create clear goals, with specific target dates. It also allows for introspection and checks and balances that help develop goals that make sense and are actually important enough to continually motivate clients through their journey. Setting goals that can be measured also reduces any ambiguity while helping to make proper, and expected, adjustments throughout the journey. Proper goal-setting technique suggests that an individual sets many different short and long-term goals (Franken, 2007), the SMART framework is a very useful tool to do just that.

2. Community

A sense of belonging, healthy competition, reciprocity, guidance, and plain old fun (Gaukstern, NASM), all great reasons to find a community of like-minded people to share your fitness journey with. A large body of anthropological, psychological, and sociological research has proven that humans are herding animals and require a strong community for basic physical needs as well as a healthy mental state (Franken, 2007). Whether an individual finds a fitness class, hikes with their friend, or hires a personal trainer, they are much more likely to have success in all of their wellness pursuits.

3. Dedicated Space

Not everyone has the luxury of a health club in their neighborhood or a basement with extra space, but a dedicated space can be anything including a small space at the office, or an unused meeting room in the clubhouse, or even the space behind your couch. Whatever the case, what’s important is that an individual has declared that space as their exercise or wellness area. Research from behavioral sciences has shown that the way an individual perceives a physical environment can greatly affect their performance and actions. Sometimes all that takes is a shift in perception. Sometimes it means spending some time and investing in proper fitness equipment or even a full gym design. Whatever the case, much like using SMART goals to plan actions, a specific and dedicated space will provide for a more successful fitness journey.

4. Guidance

This can sometimes be the most daunting aspect of starting or following through with any lifestyle or habit change. “Where do I start?” The good news is at the tip of my fingers I can find all the guidance I could ever want. The hard part is knowing what info to trust. More good news, as long as it doesn’t hurt, almost any exercise is good exercise. Experiment, leverage your community, find referrals for fitness professionals, or try out any of the many digital guidance platforms that are available to you. There is no one right way for anybody so the best thing to do is try it all, take the parts you like, and then look for even more. Consistency matters the most so make sure it’s something you enjoy (Franken, 2007) and share with as many people as possible.

These 4 tools can help anyone to be successful in their fitness journey. Plan properly by setting good goals, finding workout partners, dedicating a space to your wellness activities, and seeking out guidance from any and all corners of the fitness and wellness industry.