Four women share the motivation and tools that helped them succeed.

By Faith Brar
Photo: Nitkris / Shutterstock

Setting goals-whether that's running a race, making more time for yourself, or upping your cooking game-is the easy part. But sticking to your goals? That's where things get a lot more difficult and overwhelming. Case in point: Approximately half of all Americans make New Year's resolutions, yet only 8 percent actually achieve them. While it may seem daunting to picture yourself as a part of that elite 8 percent, setting yourself up for success is totally possible.

But don't take our word for it! Hear it from these strong women who know a lot about setting and crushing goals. Each of them completed the 40-Day Crush Your Goals challenge last year. They're active in the SHAPE Goal Crushers Facebook group, an online community of real women who encourage each other, ask questions, and share their tips and accomplishments. Oh, and did we mention that these ladies (including anyone else who signed up for the challenge and FB group) had consulting fitness director (and master-motivator) Jen Widerstrom at the helm to help guide them through the process? Yep, not only did Jen help craft the challenge and build workouts (if fitness was your goal), but she also kept the energy up with weekly check-ins and Q&A's via Facebook Live.

Before we kick off another year (yes, Jen is back!), we wanted to find out: What was the experience like for them? What did the challenge and journey teach them? And how did they use the skills they learned (whether they hit their original goal or not) to transform their lifestyles in some meaningful way?

Below, a few of them share their stories. We hope they inspire you to crush your own goals (no matter what they are, this 40-day challenge can help you get there) and get excited for what 2019 can bring. Already sold? You can sign up for the challenge and receive daily motivational newsletters with notes from Jen herself, weekly workout challenges, a 40-day progress journal full of diary prompts and activities to help you track your wins, challenge coaching via Facebook Live with Jen, and access to the SHAPE Goal Crushers Facebook Group (a private, supportive community of women-including Shape editors!-keeping things honest about working toward their health and fitness goals). Plus, when you sign up, you'll receive $10 off your first Shape Activewear order, so yay, new workout clothes to crush those goals!

"Push yourself out of your comfort zone."-Michelle Payette

As they say, "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." Payette says she joined SHAPE Goal Crushers hoping to find the extra push she needed to finally reach her goals. Joining an online group was nerve-racking at first, considering she'd never been a part of one before. But Payette quickly realized that it was worth stepping out of her comfort zone.

"I joined the SHAPE Goal Crushers group wanting to lose weight, gain muscle, and create a meal plan that worked for me," she said. "Starting the Crush Your Goals challenge, sharing my successes and failures, and having an army of women to support me, helped me finally reach those goals after a lot of trial and error. I learned that challenging your body and mind to overcome things that you think you can't do is a win-win situation. It may even spill over and make you dare to believe that you can do other things you never tried because you were afraid of failure, leading to an even more fulfilled life overall." (Related: The Many Health Benefits of Trying New Things)

"Find a community you can rely on."-Farrah Cortez

Making major lifestyle changes can take some serious mental fortitude. For the most part, your personal willpower is what will get you across the finish line. But you don't have to embark on that journey alone. Finding friends, family, and like-minded people to help keep you motivated can do wonders to keep you on track, especially when you're struggling. "The positive reinforcement from everyone in the Goal Crusher community helped me vent when I was 'stuck on a number' on the scale," says Farrah Cortez. "Finding real people replying in real time to questions on diets, exercises, and motivation helped me go harder the next day. I learned that having a support system-when you are trying to reinvent your lifestyle-is an important part of your journey. You can't get to the end without it." (Here's How Joining an Online Support Group Could Help You Finally Meet Your Goals)

"Have patience and remember that reaching goals takes time."-Sarah Siedelmann, 31

Often times, it's so easy to want what we want when we want it. But when it comes to achieving your goals, that's not how it usually works. Siedelmann is no stranger to that feeling. She joined SHAPE Goal Crushers after putting her health on the back burner after losing her father. She hoped that by completing the 40-Day Crush Your Goals challenge, she'd be back on her feet. But she quickly realized it's not that easy. "When I skipped a workout or succumbed to my cravings, I felt like I had failed, but Jen and the women in the Goal Crushers group reminded me that one setback doesn't mean failure. I learned that change doesn't happen overnight and that no one is perfect. If you fall off the wagon, you get right back on and keep going." (Related: The #1 Weight-Loss Mistake People Make In January)

"Use journaling to your advantage."

The old-school method of putting pen to paper still exists and can do wonders to make your life better. "I've been journaling for some time now, and to see all I've been able to put on paper and not carry around with me mentally has made a big change in how I'm viewing my future and everything I've been through in the past," says Siedelmann. "I find that writing things down and sharing them with people I trust helps me to maintain accountability, not just for weight loss, but I've set other goals for myself that I've been able to obtain." (This sentiment is exactly why we decided to offer the brand spanking *new* 40-day progress journal for everyone who signs up for the 40-day challenge this year!)

"Put your mental health first."-Olivia Alpert, 19 

ICYDK, more than half of millennial women made self-care their New Year's resolution for 2018-and with good reason. "Self-care is a multiplier of time," Heather Peterson, CorePower Yoga's chief yoga officer, previously told us in How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None. "When you take time, whether it's five minutes for a short meditation, 10 minutes to food prep for the next couple days, or a full hour of yoga, you build energy and focus."

Goal crusher Olivia Alpert learned that building that time into her routine was the key to her success. "I strongly believe that if your mental health is not in check, it is extremely difficult to invest in your own physical health," she says. "And that's something Jen really stressed during our weekly check-ins and Facebook Lives. I learned that prioritizing self-care can help you reach their goals by creating a sense of integrity and pride. For me personally, using self-care to create a productive environment and headspace is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to staying motivated and focused."

"Celebrate small successes."

When it comes to setting goals, the "go hard or go home" concept doesn't really apply. You have to take it one day at a time and celebrate each small and seemingly insignificant step in the right direction. The 40-Day Crush Your Goals challenge encourages you to break down your day and find the little things that motivate you to make it to the gym, keep your focus on meal prepping, and help you prioritize your goals. "Finding these little motivators taught me to be more mindful on a daily basis," says Alpert. "I learned that small gestures, such as making your bed every morning, choosing the healthier foods option, and getting that extra hour of sleep, can help you respect your mind and body. And at the end of the day, if you don't respect yourself, you can't expect others to respect you." (Related: This Smart Lunch Box Will Help You Finally Get the Hang of Meal Prepping)

"Consistency is key."-Anna Finucane, 26

When it comes to crushing your goals, consistency is one of the most powerful tools you can have. Not only does it help power you through the day-to-day, but the feeling of accomplishment after sticking to a schedule also helps you stay motivated. "In my experience, being consistent is everything," says Finucane. "As I look back at the past year, I know that what held me back the most was the lack of it. and it's something I plan on working on in 2019. It's 100 percent a learned behavior as I've seen family and friends struggle with it, so breaking the habit will be the challenge I hope to overcome." (Related: Fitness Goals You Should Add to Your Bucket List)

If you're ready to crush 2019 or still need a little nudge to get there (totally fair), those are both great reasons to set yourself up for success-sign up for the 40-Day Crush Your Goals challenge, download the 40-day progress journal, and join the Shape Goal Crushers Facebook Group. Here's to a happy and healthy 2019, inside and out!