How are your New Year's flexibility goals going?

If you are feeling less motivated, you are not alone.
Ashleigh Flanagan
February 9, 2024

It's February already. How are your New Year's flexibility goals going? 

If you are feeling less motivated, you are not alone. Of the people who resolve to increase their fitness or physical activity (and buy a gym membership) nearly 50% have dropped their membership after a month, 86% after six months and 96% after a year (Swann et al., 2021). I think it’s fair to assume that the percentage of people actively working towards a flexibility goal would decline similarly.

Before you throw away goalsetting altogether, you are more likely to increase activity when you have set a goal than when you haven't. That said, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, with a Tme frame) performance goals arnt better than setting vague goals (ie ‘I want to be more flexible’) unless you have the proven commitment, knowledge, ability and resources ie you have a track record of achieving similar goals (Swann et al., 2021).

If you are new to setting flexibility goals, you may be better off setting an open goal rather than a SMART goal. Open goals don't establish a deadline to achieve a goal or clearly define an end objective. For example, an open flexibility goal may be 'Let's see how deep I can get in a middle split in a year'. The benefit of this kind of goal is that any progress, anytime you work towards this goal you are 'succeeding', meaning you are more likely to continue. It's easier to stick to an open goal than a specific goal, you are less likely to judge yourself negatively about your progress, and your goal is less likely to be impacted by factors outside of your control. 

It is also worth considering a behaviour change approach in addition to goal setting. Strategies such as self-monitoring outcomes (including journaling, progress pics, goal progress tracking, HRV tracking etc.) and intermittent external reinforcement, such as check-ins with your coach and training buddies) result in increased physical activity for up to 15 months (Murray et al, 2017).

So what should you do if you are no longer on track?

  1. Write down your goals and keep them somewhere visible. Sharing goals with others, including social media can be helpful.
  2. Be clear about the steps required to achieve your goal and write these down in a self-contract to hold yourself accountable.
  3. Have a plan for lapses (eg what happens if you can't make your flexibility class).
  4. Record and track as much as you can initially, including training sessions and outcomes.
  5. Practice positive self-talk and learn from but let go of any lapses.
  6. Celebrate not only progress but commitment. This can include rewarding yourself for sticking to your plan.
  7. Involve others. Get a coach and training partners. Involve your family and friends.


Christian Swann, Simon Rosenbaum, Alex Lawrence, Stewart A. Vella, Desmond McEwan & Panteleimon Ekkekakis (2021) Updating goal-setting theory in physical activity promotion: a critical conceptual review, Health Psychology Review, 15:1, 34-50, DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2019.1706616
Murray, J. M., Brennan, S. F., French, D. P., Patterson, C. C., Kee, F., & Hunter, R. F. (2017). Effectiveness of physical activity interventions in achieving behaviour change maintenance in young and middle aged adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 192, 125-133.

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