Setting Smart Goals for the New Year

It’s a commonly held idea that most people make some New Year’s resolutions, but very few stick with them. How can we improve our ability to keep our commitments to ourselves?

Making a New Year’s Resolution is just a seasonal way of saying “Setting a Goal.” Setting and sticking to goals is a very important skill to learn, and there are a few principles you can follow to help them come true:

1. Write the goal down.
It doesn’t seem like much, but just the act of writing a goal down makes it 80% more likely that you will accomplish that goal. In 1979, Harvard asked its MBA class if they had set clear, written goals for their future. Only 3% of the graduates had written goals. 13% had goals they had not written down, and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, they interviewed the class again, the 13% who had unwritten goals were earning an average of twice as much as the 84% who didn’t. The 3% who had written goals were making an average of ten times as much money as the other 97%. It’s that important.

2. Set deadlines.
If you make a commitment to yourself, make it as specific as possible. a deadline is a great way to increase your level of commitment and the likelihood that you will accomplish your goal. Still, don’t set yourself up to fail by making an unrealistic deadline. Give yourself the time you really think you might need. Even if you miss the deadline, keep going. It may just mean that the deadline wasn’t realistic. Only you can know if you’re putting in the effort.

3. Remember that goal setting is the key to happiness.
Wait, what do you mean by that, Jeff? I once read a quote: “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” I realized your sense of happiness is directly related to your sense of progress, and your sense of control over your destiny. You can only have meaningful control over your destiny if you choose what your destiny will be–in other words, set goals and stick to them.

How Titleist Pros Get Ready

As many of you already know, I’m a Titleist-certified golf fitness specialist.  I’ve posted a number of times about correcting physical limitations in order to improve your ability to swing the club with good technique.

Some time ago, the Wall Street Journal visited the Titleist Performance Institute and shared their observations.  I’ve chosen some quotes from the article that represent the goals and philosophy of Titleist Performance training.

About the effect of physical limitations on the golf swing: “The most intriguing work carried out at TPI involves…research into the negative cascading effect that physical limitations and dysfunctions like a stiff ankle, can have on a player’s ability to hit the ball efficiently…The staff can propose workarounds or pinpoint physical therapy regimens that, with time and discipline, can correct the flaws.”

About Functional Fitness and how it’s changed golf as a sport: “‘A lot of the old guard still blame equipment for the increased distance on the Tour, but so much more of it is the quality of the athletes…The stuff we do these days is all full-body, functional movement.  Nobody’s doing bench presses anymore, that’s for sure.'”

On making adjustments for clients, and a little bit going a long way: “‘When a guy tells me he’s willing to work out for 90 minutes four times a week, I interpret that, from experience, as 15 minutes, three times a week,’ Mr. Gill said. “But I can give him a focused 15 minute workout that will still make a big difference in his game.”

Here’s a link to the article: WSJ: How the Pros Get Their Bodies Ready

I’m a big advocate of full-body, functional fitness, and I maintain that it will give you the greatest benefits whatever your physical goals are.  I just happen to have specific training in applying these principles to improving your golf game, but as a trainer with 20 years of experience, I can design a program for almost any goal.

Please share this information if you know anybody who could use it!

I uploaded a new video on how to warm up dynamically, check it out:

How and why to warm up

Many people don’t warm up–or don’t warm up thoroughly–before exercise.  I think a part of the reason why is that they don’t understand why you do it.  Today I’m going to talk about how and why to warm up.

A number of things happen when you warm up:

  • Joints move through a full range of motion.  This helps prepare them for exercise and prevents injury.
  • Your pulse increases gradually instead of suddenly, which is less stressful for your circulatory system.
  • Blood reaches every part of your body, even the extremities.  That helps ready the tissues to absorb nutrients and remove waste.
  • And maybe most importantly: your brain gets your body into workout mode.  It’s a subtle thing, but it’s vitally important that your brain switch gears to paying attention to your body and its movement through space.  This simple factor helps you prevent injury and improves performance.

So that’s the “Why”, now for the how.  Exercise comes in three basic flavors: resistance training, sports, and cardio.  Each type of exercise benefits from different types of warm-up.  Before I get into those types, I should say that it’s more important for you to warm up, period, than it is to get exactly the right warm-up for your activity.  That said, here are the types of warm-up I recommend based on the workout you’re doing:

Resistance training:

Use dynamic stretches.  That means move your joints through full ranges of motion rather than holding them steady.  Full stretches where you hold the stretch for several seconds aren’t appropriate for warm-ups, because they can cause your muscles to relax too much, leading to injury.  Some examples of dynamic stretching that you can do are shoulder rolls, torso rotations, hip circles, and ankle rolls.


Mimic the movements of the sport you’re about to perform.  For sports that require rotational movement, like baseball and golf, do some torso rotations.  For basketball or soccer, do something like high knee marches and ankle rolls.  After you’ve gotten in some of these dynamic stretches, you can switch to more strenuous warm-ups like jumping jacks and lunges.


Many people skip warming up all together with cardio, because they view the activity itself as a warm up.  That’s a mistake.  Before cardio, do some dynamic stretching to signal your brain that you’re going to get into activity mode.  Then when you do start, start slow and easy in order to bring your heart rate up gradually.

Whatever kind of workout you do, make sure your body is ready for it.

If you found this information helpful, please remember to share it with anyone who might also benefit!

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