It’s the start of another exciting year where everyone wants to wake up and press the reset button. Goals from the previous year may not have been achieved or were unattainable due to life just getting in the way.  Some figures suggest that 40% of the American population set New Year’s fitness goals, but only 8% actually achieve success.  Most people actually abandon any progress they’ve made well before Easter.  So the question becomes, how do you increase your chances for long-term success?  Below are 4 simple ways to ensure greatness in 2016.

Mental and Physical Preparation

The idea of change can be a very daunting thought for the new fitness goer.  Where do you begin?  Do you start a running routine?  Do you join a gym and hire a personal trainer?  Should you join the local hot yoga studio with your neighbors?  While all of these questions are valid, you will first need to mentally wrap your mind around the idea that change is okay.  Embrace that this decision is for all the right reasons and success will follow.

Physical preparedness needs to be established by your doctor.  Take the time to schedule a physical examination and make sure that all systems of your body are in working order.  You need to be given the okay to engage in higher-level activity if you’re new to fitness.  Failure to take this critical step can jeopardize your success and more importantly, your health and safety.

Plan It Out

Figuring out how to execute your commitment is one of the most crucial steps, so you can begin by answering three basic questions:

When will you exercise?

What type of exercise should you choose?

How much time will you spend exercising?

If you are new to exercise, I suggest that you pick a time of day that allows you to routinely engage in that activity two to three times per week.  The times you pick should be convenient and shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes.  As you begin to adapt to the new activity, your time spent exercising can increase exponentially.  Don’t be so worried about what your friends are doing because it may not be right for you.  Be sure to pick an activity that you enjoy doing to ensure consistency. Some suggestions for beginners are walking, swimming, or checking out some group fitness classes at your local community center. As confidence increases, you may find activities like weightlifting or trail running to be an exciting challenge.

Strength in Numbers

Believe it or not, you don’t have to do this alone.  My guess is that you probably know someone that has set out to achieve greatness in 2016 just like you.  Why not begin your fitness journey together?  Finding an exercise partner will help increase your chances for success and you’ll have more fun. This person will act as your support system and you can help hold each other accountable. Having a companion can be just the motivation you need to get your sweat on during the cold winter mornings, when staying in your warm bed can be a bit more tempting.

Be a Realist; Not a Dreamer

More often than not, people make the mistake of settings goals that are too lofty or unrealistic.  It’s commendable to want to shed some holiday weight or run a marathon, but you must first consider the steps needed to achieve your goals as well as the barriers that may get in your way.  Start by drafting feasible monthly milestones, which allow you to safely develop exercise literacy.  From there, you can build upon that foundation as your fitness levels improve.  This will ensure you mitigate your chances for failure and almost make certain your exercise program creates a better you.  After all, 2016 shouldn’t be about short-term success and reliving old habits, but rather, long term success and a platform to achieve greatness for years to come.