We all have goals, but most of us follow the same steps:
- We decide, for whatever reason, that we want to do something.
- We think about it, dream about it and envision our success
- We talk about the goals that we are thinking about and envisioning
And that’s about it.
We want these things but for a number of reasons a lot of people never get to experience what it’s like to reach their goals. To achieve a goal you need to work for it with dogged determination, you need to be prepared to overcome setbacks and adversity, and you need to be able to perhaps make sacrifices in other areas of your life in order to streamline your efforts.
But you also need to lose a few habits, thought patterns and behaviours which are holding you back from long term success.
After all, a goal is a very personal thing. When you set them, you should really focus your mind on what you truly want, because trying to achieve a goal you don’t really care about is never going to work. As soon as it gets hard, you’ll quit, because why would you work to achieve something that doesn’t bother you?
Really think, and look within yourself to find out what you really want.
What you REALLY want to achieve, not what you think you should.
Then start making some changes.
The things you need to lose:
You’re thinking about the outcome, not the process
You want abs by Christmas, an extra 50kg on your total by the next meet, you want to earn 100k next year…but these things often seem hugely daunting. Not only are they daunting because it’s going to be a huge task to achieve, but it’s daunting because of all of the work it represents.
Think about it, dropping three dress sizes will require patience, determination and consistency. You will have to change your diet, your exercise regime, likely your sleep, maybe social behaviour (no, drinking a ton of Jaegar bombs every weekend is not a great idea) and general outlook on life.
That’s going to seem an impossible task
What I advise people do, in training or in life, is to make goals behaviour based.
Follow SMART goal setting, but make it a behaviour change instead. Say someone told me that their goal was to compete in a physique show, but they had only just started and were overweight, we would break that down into steps.
- Lose a bunch of fat
- Gain a bunch of lean muscle
- Start contest prep and get really, really, really shredded
- Buy some small trunks
- Get tangoed
- Learn to pose
That’s a lot of work, and will actually take years. It’s no surprises that just about every beginner (or relative beginner. Training for a couple years doesn’t make you an intermediate trainer…) who has this goal never ends up doing it.
So we break it RIGHT down into habits that are achievable and will contribute to each step. Rather than making it our goal to compete, make it our goal that by next week we will be eating protein at every meal.
This is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time constrained. You can complete this goal, then we can add another habit which will be done across the board – let’s make it veggies at each meal, then drink 2L of water per day, sleep at least 7 hours as a priority, and so on until we have a whole load of healthy habits which have formed into a full-on healthy lifestyle.
All of a sudden our wannabe competitor is losing fat like nobody’s business because he has automatically reduced his caloric intake, and increased his activity levels, and when he DOES lose the fat he will keep it off because he has the skills to do so. That, you see, is the MAIN problem with outcome-based goals: They leave room for a ‘what now?’ moment.
Make it your goal to lose fat, buy Herbalife and live on that for 6 months, you lost fat. Now what?
Or, it’s your aim to lose fat so you make it your goal to eat protein at each meal, then to cook for yourself 90% of the time, then to eat veggies at every meal which take up half of the plate, then to eat mindfully and focus on your food, stopping when satisfied, then to order a black coffee rather than a Caramel Latte, then to…
Suddenly the fat is gone and you know how it happened. Suddenly you’re in a better position to move forward. Suddenly your goals are taking you towards your overall aim.
You tell people about it
Kinda counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Surely by telling others you make yourself accountable, and you then receive either support or peer pressure which spurs you on to reach your goals?
In 1933, W. Mahler discovered a strange phenomenon (1). What he found is that if a problem is presented and someone provides a solution, as soon as people agree that said solution will solve the issue, the person who worked it out stops working because they feel like they have accomplished something.
Following this research, Peter Gollwitzer of New York University published some results (2) which indicated that the same thing happens when someone intends to do something. That is, a study of 63 people indicated that telling someone what you plan to do gives you a ‘premature sense of completeness’ which is satisfying enough to stop you ACTUALLY doing what you set out to do.
It feels awesome to talk about the future and your goals, but that is itself a problem. If you’re always talking about making your fortune you start to feel so good that you get distracted and don’t actually try to do it.
Tell people you’re going to go to the gym every day? (that’s another facebook stutus update right there)
You probably wont, because people will think you’re awesome for saying you’ll go and that’s enough. Talking about dieting? It may make you feel good but it won’t make your clothes any looser. This even makes sense when we think about what happens when people set goals. They are going to overhaul their life in January with the whole ‘new year new me’ thing, and they get all excited about it.
That excitement? It’s exhilarating. So much so that come February gyms are empty again, its just the bro’s left.
So make goals, but shut the hell up about it and crack on.
No more Facebook status about what you are gonna do, just go do it.
You lack true direction
This is one which most people experience when it’s their goal to gain some weight. They will get lean then start increasing their training volume and calories with the aim of putting on some beef, and it goes really well for the first month or two. They are looking fuller, feeling stronger, and people FINALLY stop asking them if they even lift.
Then one day they wake up and their abs are kinda blurry.
They look ‘soft’
And suddenly, panic sets in and they diet back to their old aesthetic self. The only problem is that they haven’t actually made any progress. They are simply back to square one.
When trying to achieve any goal, you need to have your mind in one place only. It’s no good wanting one thing but then changing your mind, or trying to do too many things at once.
Gaining size, or performing at your best? You need to fuel up and that means there might be a little fat gain along the way. Deal with it, plus the chicks love the Hench but cuddle look, embrace it.
As a wise man once said: ‘’A man who tries to ride two horses will end up with his face in the dirt’’
This is a biggie. If you’re scared that what you want to achieve will only lead you down the path of failure, chances are you won’t even really try to do it in the first place.
But this does not mean that your afraid of failure, it’s a little deeper than that.
We are afraid that other people will laugh at us for not being able to do what we set out to do. A fear of failure is not a fear that you won’t succeed – after all, not trying to do something is the fastest way to not succeed at it – rather a fear of failure is a fear of being ridiculed.
Looking like a failure to other people.
But screw that!
Look, nobody cares if you succeed or fail. Everyone is too busy worrying about their own lives to be concerned about your gains.
Imagine if you were to stand naked, painted pink, in a bus stop.
People driving past would look at you and think you’re weird, and rightly so, but within 5-10 seconds they would be back worrying about how they look in their rear view mirror, or thinking about how they can impress their friends with something.
The world, in the kindest way possible, doesn’t care about you, and that means that you should never feel that you can’t strive to achieve anything you want to – safe in the knowledge that if you fail, nobody will think about it for more than that 5-10 second window.
I love goal setting. I do it every day in the form of a ‘To Do’ list.
Setting goals that we can achieve keeps us focused and stops us from procrastinating as soon as one task is finished, even though we think we have earned a break.
Make it your goal today to do one thing that matches up as a habit already adopted by someone who has achieved what you want to (doesn’t matter who it is, Arnie, Dorian, any idol will do, they have likely all nailed these habits, one reason they are so jacked).
Do that, and you’re one step closer already.
And, to come back to chicks digging rugged manly men and not cover models with abs 24/7, it’s true, just ask a few, spot check some girls.
One more excuse to have a big bench and eat cake!
(1) Mahler, W. (1933). Ersatzhandlungen verschiedenen Realita¨tsgrades. Psychologische Forschung, 18, 27–89