Is It Too Soon To Think About 2020 Goals? No Way!

As we slide into the 2019 holiday season, our attention will naturally turn toward fun holiday parties, stressful shopping excursions, and yummy sugar-filled desserts. It seems way too early to start planning anything for 2020… but is it really?

Make it happen notebookActually, it’s not. The fact of the matter is that our workout schedule (and our wellness in general) often suffers during the holiday season, which means some of us (okay, me… but maybe you too) have to start the New Year almost from scratch in our exercise routines.

But what if you didn’t do that this year? Rather, what if you planned ahead for your 2020 exercise goals and actually started working toward them right now during the holidays? Imagine what that would be like….

The Benefits of Planning Ahead

Woman running race outsideIncrease Your Motivation

There are a number of benefits to starting your 2020 goals in 2019. For starters, it can help keep you inspired to get to the gym. I think we can all agree that it’s harder to muster up the motivation to work out during the last two months of the year. It gets dark so early, we haven’t gotten used to the chilly weather yet, and sometimes there are just more fun things to do! But if you know what your 2020 goals are, you can use them as motivation to stick to your exercise schedule to get you through the holiday season.

Fight Holiday Stress

A second benefit to starting your 2020 goals in 2019 is that keeping a consistent workout practice will help you beat the stress that can come during the holidays. As much as we wish it didn’t, the family-filled holiday season can sometimes bring more than just peace and joy… it can also bring conflict, anxiety, frustration, and overwhelm. But, the mind-body connection is real and the endorphins released during a workout help decrease the brain chemicals that are related to stress. These “feel-good” endorphins that come when you exercise boost your mood and release tension from your body. A win-win!

(Looking for additional ways to combat holiday stress? Check out this article from Chicago Athletic Club and this article from Lincoln Park Therapy Group).

Focus On Your Values

At Lincoln Park Therapy Group, we teach something called Values Clarification (you can check out this article to learn more about this process). The Values Clarification technique is a way to identify and enhance certain values that are important to you, while gaining awareness about how they influence your lifestyle and decision-making. By establishing your 2020 goals now, you are laying the foundation for your exercise practices in the new year. We call these “practices”, because they are ongoing habits that you are building that will prevail long after you’ve reached your 2020 goals. Identifying your 2020 goals in 2019 also helps you establish that working out and attaining goals related to your physical health is an important part of your life, or a value that you hold. Essentially, you are training your brain to recognize the importance that exercise has in your life and helping yourself to build long-lasting practices to support this value… practices that can withstand the chaos of the holiday season.

Simple Tips to Keep Calm and Exercise On

Girl pumping arms in victoryLet’s face it… even with all the commitment, motivation, and values-driven decision-making you can muster, it can still be hard to find time to work out during the holidays. Here are some simple tips to help keep you on track and moving toward your 2020 goals:

  • Just do something - You might not have time to hit the gym during the holidays like you normally do. That’s okay - going just 2 times is better than nothing! As we say at Lincoln Park Therapy Group, “something is better than nothing.” Even if it’s a 30 minute walk outside with a friend instead of your normal workout routine, you will still reap the benefits of that time at the gym and progress toward your 2020 goals.
  • Plan ahead - Your regular workout schedule is likely to get disrupted at least a few times with all of the holiday events that are planned. Don’t let that stop you from pushing toward your 2020 goals. Instead of working out at night, you might have to visit the gym during lunch or before work. Plan ahead so you can accommodate these schedule changes in your calendar. For example, try not to schedule an early-morning meeting at the office that might dissuade you from working out beforehand. Or, be prepared to bring your lunch to the office on days you need to work out mid-day.
  • Learn to say no - It’s tempting to accept all of the invitations to holiday social gatherings. But if you find that your social life is pulling you too far away from your normal schedule, it might be helpful to say no to a few of them. The more you can stick to a routine during the holidays, the easier it will be to set the foundation for your 2020 goals and workout practices.
  • Create an action plan - If you’re still finding it hard to stick to a routine that will help you achieve your 2020 goals, it can be helpful to write out a plan of action. In your plan of action, start with your end goal(s). Then, identify some realistic milestones you can focus on to help you reach your goal(s). After you’ve identified your milestones, list out the action steps that will help you reach your milestones. When you’re creating this action plan, it can be helpful to use the SMART method:
    • S - specific
    • M - measurable
    • A - achievable
    • R - realistic
    • T - timely

Go Get Started

Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits to planning for your 2020 goals, I hope you will give some serious consideration to setting them and starting to build your workout practices that will help you achieve them. Imagine what it will be like in six or eight months after you’ve achieved your goal, looking back on the commitment you made to yourself way back in November 2019. Think about the smile one your face and how proud you will be when you’ve crossed that finish line, completed that competition, or participated in that event. Just thinking about that accomplishment should boost your mood a bit right now. What if you could ride that adrenaline all the way through the holiday season? Imagine how great you’ll feel...

Nicolle O

Nicolle Osequeda is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Daring Way Facilitator, and a member of the Financial Therapy Association, which supports the integration of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects that influence financial well-being. She is the Founder and Director of Lincoln Park Therapy Group, Chicago’s premiere group therapy practice with offices in Lincoln Park and East Lakeview.