I Don’t “Do” Resolutions: What I Do Instead of Goal Setting

Goal setting is dumb. There I said it. For 39 years I’ve been learning, hearing, teaching and sharing statistics on the effectiveness of exercise on health concerns like obesity and disease. 

Sadly, it hasn’t changed.  

No more of the population is exercising with enough frequency to positively impact their disease risk than was in 1984 when I had dreams of changing the world one exerciser at a time. 

Before More Goal Setting Dishing, This… 

Before we go too far into goal setting and resolutions and why the process still doesn’t work, we have to have a discussion about self-sabotage. In the original post (and podcast you’ll hear from this post) I wrote about what it is and why we do it. And yes, even the best of us do this. Even when we think we’re not, we’re doing it. 

I want to revisit a topic that is important this time of year as well as in the New Year when so many of us begin to think about. Self-sabotage is something that I regularly talk about, so that you are aware of it, why it happens, and that it in fact is likely to show up for you in some way.

Why We Self-Sabotage

Why do I self-sabotage? Was the topic of one of the first Flipping 50 TV episodes I did and that was on purpose. It’s a topic that comes up so often for our community. By midlife we can all look back and say, why did I screw that up when it was going so well? Why did I stop doing “xyz” when it was working? Why did I start “abc” when I know that will derail me?

I’ve touched on the answers to those questions in other posts, blogs, and I’ll point you to the Flipping 50 TV episode here. Here in this post I want to approach it in a slightly different way.

You may have found your way to Flipping 50 for fitness and exercise and hormone balancing physical activity expertise. There’s more to it than a workout or a protein shake, though. There’s always a psychological component to any physical changes we make or want to. Today I want to address the things that are so necessary for you to have or to cultivate if you don’t have them yet so you can have the change or transformation you want.

3 Tips for Better Goal Setting

  1. The goal can be broken into actions you KNOW are proven to get you the outcome you want. 
  2. The actions can be broken down into small steps that you can start doing right now no matter how far you are from what you ultimately want 
  3. You have a list and set of “overcomers” for the obstacles that you WILL experience along the way 

And the greatest of those is #3. Almost never is someone encouraged to think about the obstacles…. The funeral, the flu, the broken toe…. That will happen during the journey to the goal when they are goal setting. 

No siree… instead it is all pie-in-the-sky like a bride before her wedding about how romantic and amazing the whole thing is going to be. 

Any goal worth setting is going to incur problems along the way. So why this is still such a missing piece in goal setting I will never know!

Some of the content below is taken directly from the original episode post.

Take Back Your Power

We often allow someone else to be responsible for our confidence or lack of it. In fact, they can’t be. Only you can do that. Someone may or may not have encouraged you and that may have contributed to feelings you already had, but no one person in your life had all the ability to instill or remove confidence. In fact, the very act of walking away from that person may be your confidence builder.

For personal trainers who might be listening, having to build a business on your own rather than working for a gym that may be closed, may be the very beginning of real confidence that comes from doing it yourself instead of relying on someone else to do it for you.

I can say without a doubt that was true and still is for me. There’s no greater personal growth than starting and growing your own business. You don’t have anything else propping you up. There’s no third-party endorsement. It’s you, building from the ground. And don’t let that scare you from doing it. If you’re inclined to start it, you have what it takes to do it.

Give Yourself a Challenge

Doing uncomfortable things – do something alone if you’re used to being around others or do something with a crowd of people if you’re an introvert. A little nervous is also a little excited. Welcome that. 

For an extrovert: Going to a movie alone, eating at a restaurant alone (without your phone).

For an introvert: Doing improve activities in a group of people you don’t know

Go through a challenge for a month. Following a plan that feels uncomfortable. Master a new skill, do a small new habit consistently, and what builds confidence about that is the action of following through it less than the evidence of the change.

Successful habit change starts small

In my TEDx talk I described Jennifer’s first 10 weeks with me. That was a confidence builder for her. She followed advice that was counter to the dogma she’d learned for decades. And the first bit of confidence came when she didn’t gain weight as she thought she would. And she was not getting sick or injured any longer either. That was the first step in what’s now 100 lbs of weight loss at age 67.

One of the obstacles for successful habit change can be attachment to the problem. If you identify with your problem, meaning really think of it as a part of your identity, you may stay stuck. 

How Can You Keep Your Energy Optimal?

If you want to boost your ability to believe in yourself again, you need to exercise that part of you that makes you feel confident. That requires optimal energy. So when your energy dips or you’re on the other hand feeling anxious, you’ve got to have a way to find your way back to your “Goldilocks.”

List #1 What are 10 things that boost your mood and energy?

Remind yourself of times when you’ve done something exceptional – gave a speech, did something incredibly hard in your life and survived it, overcame a huge obstacle.

Other things might be as simple as having a big glass of water, dancing for 5 -20 minutes. There are mornings when my day just takes off like a plane and I don’t even have time for a shower before something comes up that needs handling. On those days a quick shower and wearing a “bring it on” outfit make a difference.


Talking to the right person can really boost my energy; I schedule podcast interviews in the afternoon, when otherwise my energy might be coming down compared to morning. 

I want to be clear that the kind of energy boost you’re looking for is that sustained energy. Not a jacked-up over-the-top can’t focus but one that allows you more focus. It’s like the difference between coffee that creates jittery distraction and matcha that offers a more calming focus along with energy.

List #2 What are 10 things that calm you down and reduce your stress?

First … the best suggestion someone gave me recently is to eliminate the word stress from my vocabulary. If you don’t say it, you don’t feel it. I no longer feel that emotion. Instead I put myself in a situation where if I’m not experiencing the regularly high energy state I want, I define why. 

If I were creating this list it might include drawing, painting, writing, hiking, massage, yoga, and music and movies. You want to have a variety of things on this list that you can do anytime anywhere, and that aren’t all dependent on making an appointment – or taking a lot of time. Deep breathing for instance? Big game changer, small time investment.

Another regular habit of mine is sauna. While there are other activities I might be too tempted to multitask, trying to listen to a work-related meeting or catch up on a missed webinar, at most in the sauna I can listen to a podcast, or just music.

Again, I’m going to share the music I listen to for productivity – and all year round – including Wholetones Christmas music. Whether you understand or fully buy into the vibrational energy within it or not, I think you’ll love it.

So, your homework from this post is to create both these lists. And take them out as needed. Put them on your computer, your phone, and remind yourself often of them.

And there you have it. I’m keeping this episode short intentionally. Spend time thinking about what you love, what you need, what you need less of it or to let go of.

Look at your goal setting for 2023 and identify where you left the door open for failing. 

Resource mentioned in this post:

Sunlighten Sauna

Losing 100 lbs at 67 

Other episodes you may like:

Best 2023: A Workshop for Women Over 50: https://www.flippingfifty.com/best-2023

Setting Goals: What’s Wrong (and How to Fix It): https://www.flippingfifty.com/setting-goals/

Saving Your New Year’s Goals: https://www.flippingfifty.com/new-years-goals/

A Toxin-Free Diet For the New Year: https://www.flippingfifty.com/toxin-free-diet/

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