Holiday season is among us, and that means another year is coming to a close. While it can be tempting to rush ahead with excitement and anticipation, pausing to look back can actually make a bigger (healthier) impact.
“To improve on your future performances, it is helpful to analyze what you did in the past,” says Orangetheory director of fitness design Rachel Vaziralli. “What worked well? What didn’t work so well? Use that information to shape your health and fitness plans to set attainable and realistic goals for the New Year.”
Whether you’re reviewing your fitness and health goals, or progress made across other important pillars such as family, career or mental health, this end of year reflection activity can help adults become more self-aware and better prepared to navigate whatever comes your way down the road.
So, are you ready? In order to get the best out of 2023, let’s take a moment to unwrap and unpack the journey—however it may have looked for you.
If You Struggled This Year…
Hasn’t been the year you imagined? It’s happened to all of us–-including Vaziralli. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop to reflect; it just means you need to have the right mindset.
“Self-reflection can be tough, especially if you did not achieve what you had set out to achieve,” she says. “It can be tempting to get stuck in the negative, but that does not help us move forward. This is where we must shift the narrative to say to ourselves, ‘I did not accomplish everything I set out to do this year, but I worked hard, learned a lot in the process and will use these learnings to help me in the New Year.’”
Can’t stop beating yourself up? Stay focused on the actual evidence. “As humans we often forget what we did, or our feelings can skew reality,” adds Vaziralli. Using objective data (like the performance summaries in the Orangetheory Fitness app) can help. “You can use the data to identify key markers or opportunities that you want to focus on in the New Year.”
To make progress for the future, you must be willing to identify what barriers got in your way and brainstorm solutions for how you can overcome them, says Vaziralli. For example, if you missed a lot of workouts, could your solution be finding an accountability partner? There are endless solutions that can work. The key is finding which one will work best for you.
If You Smashed This Year…
Maybe you’re in the opposite corner: You absolutely crushed your goals this year. Congrats! While it’s tempting to ride the high emotions that come with achieving your biggest health and fitness goals, it’s essential to use this time for honest reflection to ensure you’re ready (and able) to keep growing in the New Year.
“In the world of athletics, understanding the ebb and flow of performance is critical for long term success,” says Vaziralli. “Peak performance is exactly that—a peak—but it is not sustainable year-round.”
Ask yourself whether your current health and fitness habits are truly sustainable (as in, you could keep doing them exactly the same—forever). If you’re feeling tired, especially sore, or mentally worn down, you might need to schedule a “scale back” season—taking a few weeks to reduce your exercise intensity, get more rest or allow for a few extra indulgences—before tackling your next goal.
Don’t worry about it ruining your progress. “You must be okay with bouts of recovery, as they will be crucial for your success in the long run,” adds Vaziralli.
No matter how your goals went this year, it’s time to set the stage for 2024. What is one tool or habit you can use to foster excitement and momentum for your health and fitness goals? Vaziralli, for example, finds that a gratitude journal helps her stay focused on the positive. But cultivating optimism doesn’t have to be a solo job.
“Surround yourself with people that energize you and encourage you—which is exactly what our Orangetheory coaches and communities do best,” says Vaziralli. (An easy way to do that? Sign up for the 12 Days of Fitness program at your local Orangetheory studio. From December 1–12, you’ll unwrap the best of 2023 by re-completing all the top workouts of the year—from members’ favorite power workout to the highest rated session in the app and more.)
“When you realize everyone has their own struggles but is there to support one another, it helps you move forward. It’s a reminder that you can’t change the past, but you can always work towards improving your future.”