Recording goals in a fitness diary, reflecting on the successes and failures and being held to account by others are some of the key strategies that have been found to maximise the achievement of goals to get fit.
These findings will be presented today, Wednesday 8 January 2014, to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology in Brighton by Dr Cheryl Travers, Dr Ray Randall and Dr Harry Hogarth from Loughborough University.
Dr Travers and her colleagues asked 60 students to complete questionnaires about their chosen fitness goals as well as keep a diary about their reflections on the ingredients that would help them reach the goals, which were analysed.
The results show that successfully reaching the goal was more likely if a few key habits were present. Firstly, if the student reflected back on their diary of attempts, identifying what worked and what did not in their techniques. Secondly, if the person was held accountable and had feedback through a support group, an expert, friends or family. Thirdly, if progress was recorded through the diary and the student reflected on strategies that worked previously. Lastly, if mini-goals were created that lead up to the larger goal.
The act of looking back at the fitness diaries lead students to consider their attempts in different ways and gave them a motivational boost in self-esteem and self-confidence. Dr Travers suggests that the benefits of fitness goals go beyond physical fitness and can enhance our psychological fitness by building skills necessary in the workplace, such as self-organisation, self-insight and discipline.