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Yes, this is an obligatory New Year’s resolution column. But before I talk about “how to make 2020 your best year ever,” I’m curious, how did the last year go for you? Did you cross out all of the bucket list items you scribbled down in 2018? Are you measurably better today than you were 365 days ago? Or, are you disappointed with your results?

If you’re less than thrilled about how the last year panned out, it doesn’t make sense to set new goals until we’ve identified why you didn’t succeed the first time around. So, before you put pen to paper, I want to give you a bit of advice that might help this next trip around the sun be more fruitful for you.

I’ve found that most people who want to achieve a certain goal (like lose weight) but struggle, fall into two categories: those who lack knowledge and those who lack accountability. Those who lack knowledge have something they want to achieve but don’t know what the steps are to get there. These people tend to run in circles, going down lots of dead ends and rabbit holes that lead to nowhere. Or, paralyzed by their lack of knowing what to do, they just do nothing, so years go by without any progress at all. 

The second group, those who lack accountability, know what they need to do. Their problem is not the knowledge of what to do, it’s their inability to get themselves to do it. They can’t hold themselves accountable.

Every goal you pursue, if you’re serious about achieving it, must be viewed through this lens. Will the achievement of your goal require you to gain knowledge you don’t have, or will it require the discipline to do what you know needs to be done? It might require both.

For some goals, the path is linear and well-paved, so a person needs only to read a few articles on Google and get to work. You often see this when someone decides to do a marathon. I’ve known several people who just searched for “marathon training plans” online, followed it, and successfully completed the marathon a few months later.

Other goals might be more complex. They require knowledge that isn’t readily available on Amazon or a Google search. Or perhaps, the knowledge is so abundant and contradictory that there’s too much to go through and discern what applies to you. This is often the case with weight loss. And once you know exactly what to do, you must get yourself to do it week in and week out.

I’ve found the more ambitious the goal, the more knowledge and personal accountability is required to get there. You will constantly need to learn and exercise self-discipline for long periods of time. This is not easy. Fortunately, there is an easier way. 

At various times in my life, I’ve hit dead ends. At certain points, I was stuck because I either didn’t know what to do next and/or felt too burned out to keep going. And unfortunately, I was hard-headed and stayed stuck for very long periods of time because I’ve always been someone who wants to figure things out for myself.

But one day, I decided I was done reinventing the wheel. I hired a coach. I did this in both personal and professional endeavors. The result was that in every area I was coached, I achieved more in months than I had achieved in years.

Every lofty goal requires knowledge and accountability. And yes, you can do this yourself, but when you hire a coach, you shortcut the process by leveraging their experience in real time. They remove all the research, trial and error, and guesswork, so you can focus on taking action. And when you’re slacking on the action, they’re there to snap you back in line.

These days, I wouldn’t take on anything without an experienced pro to show the way. I mean, would you climb Everest without a guide? So as you plan out your 2020, ask yourself: Do you need knowledge or accountability? And if so, do you want to figure it out on your own or do you want to get there ten times faster? spt

photo of san pedro today author Ricky Magana

Ricky Magana

Ricky Magana is co-owner of Heyday Elite Fitness. Heyday offers a two-minute scan that provides a full one-page body fat analysis to help you tailor your fitness goals. For more info, email