Get It Done or Else: How Setting Deadlines Will Help Clients Reach Their Goals

by | Aug 13, 2015 | Articles, For Fitness Pros | 0 comments

(Last Updated On: March 29, 2019)

Think back to when you were in college and you had to submit that 15-page paper for finals. Your professor gave you a deadline and reminded you that if you didn’t get it turned in on time you would not pass the class. Get it done or else.

When our back is against the wall and we have a deadline we get things done. Go back to college and decide not to turn that paper in on time. Then what happens? You fail. No one wants to fail, I don’t care who you are.

Get It Done or Else: How Setting Deadlines Will Help Clients Reach Their Goals

So if we want to achieve a certain level of success in our lives, whether it be with losing weight, earning more money, or becoming a better personal trainer, we need to start setting deadlines.

Let’s face it, getting stuff done is starting to become a lost art. It’s too easy to sit around and watch TV or scroll through your Facebook newsfeed than it is to get stuff done. And I’m not talking about the daily stuff that’s on your list. I’m talking about the big rocks. The stuff that will actually take you to the next level if you get it done.

At least in college if we didn’t get our stuff done there was a consequence. But now that we’re adults and we’re holding ourselves accountable, it’s too easy just to slack off. That’s one big reason why people hire coaches. When I sit down with a new prospect and ask them what they want help with, the top two things are “Tell me what I need to do to lose weight and then hold me accountable.”

Sure I can tell you what you need to do and I will hold you accountable along the way. But I can’t do it for you. You have to have a strong desire to want to succeed. You better find your reason “WHY.” And along with that, start setting deadlines. Determine what you want to achieve and then give yourself a deadline. It’s a simple concept you can use to keep your motivation going.

There are deadlines, and then there are deadlines that if met will produce a reward, and if not met will result in a consequence or punishment. You can’t just set a deadline. You need to come up with a reward that you can earn if you meet your goal before the deadline. You should also establish a punishment if you don’t reach your goal before the deadline. Tony Robbins suggests there are two emotions that will motivate people – pleasure or pain. I believe pain is a bigger motivator.

Imagine going to the doctor and he tells you that if you don’t quit gaining weight you will die. You ask for a second opinion and the other doctor tells you that if you were to lose weight you can improve your quality of life. One doctor took the approach of using pain (death) and the other doctor took the approach of using pleasure (improved quality of life). Which one would motivate you more? I’m guessing it’s death. We will do almost anything to avoid pain. So come up with a consequence such that if you don’t reach your goal it will cause you discomfort, pain or anguish. Now I’m not saying to physically cause yourself pain, but I am saying your consequence better sting a little. If you want it to help motivate you, it needs to make you think twice about what will happen if you don’t meet your deadline.

Money makes an excellent reward, and it also makes an excellent punishment. Transformation contests are popular for a lot of reasons, but the thought of changing your body and winning a large sum of cash is motivating enough to keep people working hard for the 8-12 weeks of the contest. Having to donate a large sum of money to a charity I don’t believe in is also a punishment I would try to avoid at all costs (no matter if I could write it off or not).

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What about you? What kind of deadline do you need to set? What kind of reward will motivate you the most? What type of punishment will sting enough to make sure you follow through?

Snap your fingers. That’s about how long your motivation will last. So use a simple tip like creating deadlines with rewards and consequences to help keep you moving forward.

Barry Westerkamp is an Anytime Fitness franchise owner and fat loss expert in Pella, IA. He is a certified personal trainer and has been helping change lives in the fitness industry since 2005. Follow barry at