New Year Fitness Resolution: Follow a system instead of setting a goal

It’s that time of the year again – the first few days of the new year where countless people make new year resolutions. I will lose 10 kg this year. I will run a full marathon. I will complete an Ironman. I will run a half marathon within 2 hours. And so on….

Whats common with all these resolutions? These are goal oriented. They state just an end goal but nothing about how that goal will be achieved. What will you have to do to achieve that goal? How? When? What? Where? Why? As they say, the devil is in the details.

Needless to say, a vast majority of these resolutions are not fulfilled. Many people have let go of the goal by the time February rolls around.

Let me propose a different way to make your new year resolution for this year – create and follow a system instead of setting a goal. The concept of having a system instead of a goal has been espoused by many, among them by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic.

Lets take some examples:

Goal: Lose 10 kg this year.

replace with


  • Eat a healthy meal 8 times out of 10.
  • Eat only when you feel hungry, not just because it’s time to eat.
  • Avoid heavy meals for dinner.
  • and similar such rules…

Goal: Run a full marathon this year

replace with


  • Stay consistent by running 3 times a week.
  • Stay injury free with strength training at least once a week.
  • Race once every 6 weeks, not just when its “race season”.
  • Hire a coach to help implement the system and be accountable.

As you can see, a system is a clearly defined set of rules which you have to follow. They give instant feedback about whether you are sticking to the rules and following the system. Every time you follow a rule, you get positive feedback and satisfaction. This creates a nice positive feedback loop.

This is different from going after some goal where you are only satisfied if and when you achieve that goal. Even then, the satisfaction itself may be for a short amount of time after the goal is achieved and then you are enveloped with a huge void. What next?

A system is always there to guide you. You can tweak and change and adapt the system as your circumstances change.

Follow a system day in and day out, for weeks and months in succession, and by the time December rolls around, you will have seen great progress in the direction of your goal.

A system allows you to enjoy the journey itself, not just the destination. For, when it comes to fitness improvement, 99% of your time is spent in the journey.

Happy new year!

Bonus Tip: Create a simple log of how much you have stuck to your rules. If your hit rate is between 90% and 100%, then you are doing a great job. If your hit rate is between 80% and 90%, then you are still good, but there is room for improvement. Anything less than 80% and you are implementing the system very poorly.


This and lots more articles, resources, videos and other content is available for CLUB Motiv8 members. Know more about CLUB Motiv8 -  If you are already a member, login here