The two most common New Year’s resolutions people make are to stay fit and healthy, and to lose weight, according to a Nielsen survey (www.nielsen.com). As concepts, they’re excellent. As goals, they’re amorphous and immeasurable.

A better approach would be to name a specific objective (or objectives) that you plan to complete in the coming weeks or months, such as lose 10 pounds, complete a Spartan Race, or boost your deadlift 1RM by 25 percent. Doing so would lead you to a conclusive outcome.

When your deadline arrives—either you succeeded or you didn’t. Still, while having a defined goal is a good start, the odds of success hinge on a willingness to embrace change and shun inertia.

“Our brains are extremely effective in managing the status quo,” says John Sullivan, Psy. D., clinical sport psychologist/applied sport scientist and founder of Clinical & Sports Consulting Services (http//performancedocs.com). “However, we also have an outstanding ability to change—also known as self-directed neuroplasticity.

Relying upon rituals and having plans when roadblocks develop will allow for more consistent progress.” And roadblocks will develop, which is why we came up with a list of ones you might encounter en route to the finish line.

More important, we asked experts for advice to help you avoid them.

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