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Workout Wisdom for the New Year: Meet Lofty Goals With Lofty Standards

Being that it’s now late December, you may be thinking about new goals you want to achieve next year. Hopefully, you’re excited about taking your health and fitness to a higher level. And one goal we should all have is to stay out of the hospital and off medications for as long as we can. To that end, I hope you’re setting some ambitious goals for your dietary habits and workout regimen.

But there’s an underappreciated prerequisite to goals that you shouldn’t skip while planning your personal transformation. It’s called “standards,” and understanding the relationship between standards and goals will increase the odds of your success. And by “standards,” what we’re talking about is standards of conduct.

The big distinction is that a goal is finite, and a standard is perpetual. Once you achieve a goal, you can check it off your list and put a feather in your cap. A standard, on the other hand, must be maintained as a demonstration of your beliefs about yourself. Who you are at your core is evident from the standards you operate by. So while thinking about your goals may excite you more, your standards are more important, and by setting high standards of conduct, you can avoid setting yourself up for failure.

Fitness goals end up being too lofty to achieve for many people because their standards of conduct are lowly in comparison. Many people don’t even think about what their standards should be. Let’s suppose there’s a guy who’s a novice lifter with a goal to raise his one-rep max on the bench press by fifty percent next year, and he works out once or twice per week for thirty minutes each session. The goal is high, but the standard is low because he doesn’t train frequently enough to accumulate enough gains over time to achieve the goal.

Now, let's get back to you. Since the New Year is so close at hand, your homework for the next week is to think about the standards of conduct you need to demonstrate next year. What are going to be the actions you take consistently and purposefully? What values are you going to uphold? Decide on those first things, and set your goals next.

Sayonara until next time.

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