5/12/14 – How to set goals and achieve them
So, no workout from me today guys. I was having too good of a time with my beautiful and talented journalist girlfriend. However, I do have a little something I want to talk about, namely, goal setting and how hindsight is the biggest bitch of them all.
Let me tell you something that you already know; getting what you want from life is hard. There are so many things in this life that we want but are unwilling to make the sacrifices it takes to get the things that we say we want more than anything. And yeah, sure, there are those guys and gals who are gifted, who don’t have to work as hard, who can just toss their hat into the ring and wind up in the winners circle, but I will let you into a dirty little secret, they are not you, and chances are you are not like them. You are going to have to work towards what you want. You will have to scrap, and claw and fight for the things that you want in this life, and you will do it because it’s worth it. We all look back at our failures in life and we talk about all the things that we could have done and should have done. Well, the fact is that until you will make those ‘should do’s’ into ‘have to’s’ your goals will forever elude you.
Do you have it?
I try to live my life by two maxims, and while I am not a fan of sweeping generalizations, I do find that these two sayings ring so true its like a crystal bell going off in my mind.
- Fail to prepare and you have prepared to fail
- Hindsight’s a bitch
Now, I feel that the first one speaks volumes, and in fact is what inspired this article. You need to plan not only the means by which you are going to achieve your goals, but the goal in and of its self. You need to ask yourself whether or not this is the right goal for you, and if so why. The hard truth is that many of us don’t have a good answer for why we want something, and just saying, “cause I want it” I’m afraid, just won’t cut it. Because if all you have to turn back to when the times get hard and the end could not look further from your reach is “cause I want it”, your going to find that this once great and supportive answer really isn’t all that supportive anymore.
The second statement is something that I feel requires little explanation. Hindsight is, and always will be, a bitch, but she is a bitch because we made her that way. We use hindsight to look back at all the things we could have done better, and instead of using this as a valuable lesson, we just get pissed off and throw the proverbial teddy out of the proverbial pram. Don’t make hindsight into a bitch, both she and you are better than that.
Lets just take a moment to focus on something here; there are no bad goals, so long as your goals do not negatively impact another person. What there are however, are reasons for choosing a goal – see how I am making this all link up? Genius I know! “But Rogan,” I hear you say, “what are good reasons for choosing a goal?” Well that is a damn fine question. In my opinion, a goal should be a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself. So, in my case I wanted to get strong, and some would argue that I have done that, others would say I haven’t, but none can argue that in three years I have taken my PR Deadlift from 110kg to 200kg. Now, this is not me bragging, a 200kg Deadlift is not something to write home about, at least not in Powerlifting circles, but becoming strong was a goal that served as a means of developing myself as an athlete. I wanted to get strong, not to become a Powerlifter, but to be stronger in the broader sense of my athletic development. Entering the world of Powerlifting has been a fantastic added bonus, but it was not the original goal I had set for myself.
So, if you take nothing else away from this first section, take away that you need to have a good reason for picking a goal, and that the reward of working towards the goal should not be the goal in and of itself, it should be everything you have gained leading up to, and blasting past that goal.
So now lets say you have picked your goal. You have meditated, philosophized and conversed with all the Buddha’s (yes there have been many) and you have come to a single conclusion of what it is you want. GREAT!!! Now how the hell are you going to get there? When planning your route to your goal you should remember to always think about if your goal is SMART.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time framed
The first part is easy, heck, it’s your goal! You should know specifically what it is, if you don’t, its back to the drawing board for you my friend. The second thing to think about is whether or not this goal is measurable. This basically means, can you quantify your goal in regards to something tangible – can you track your progress? If not, then you are just going to be chasing smoke. Find a progressive system that allows you to mark out and record your progress in what ever it is you are doing. I have previously been trying to gain weight at a slow pace in order to become bigger and stronger while building up my aerobic engine, so how have I measured my progress? I have weighed myself every morning and put it into an excel spreadsheet and made a graph. Extreme? No, not really, it takes a minute out of my morning, and on some days I was too heavy, and others I was too light but always the trend, the constant, is moving slowly forward. When weight gain was my goal, I was gaining roughly 1kg a month, and that’s just fine by me.
Here is an example of my weight gain graph. Always follow the trend!
Asking your self if the goal is achievable is a tough one. We all like to think that with enough hard work and planning we can get anything, and to an extent this is true but I am not going to turn into Phil Heath, regardless of how much time and effort I might put into that goal, if indeed that was my goal, which is most certainly is not.
You have to bite the bullet at some point and say to yourself the hard truth of, I cant do this and its not realistic – see what I did there. Or, at least not within the framework of the constrictions I have given myself. You see, if I wanted to take 2 seconds off my 100m time, I could do it. If I wanted to do it in two weeks, while I also train for a marathon, chances are I am going to fail, hard! So make sure that the goal you have is achievable within the context of your life and planning.
Matt Chan balances having a family, owning an affiliate, being on the CFHQ coaching staff, and having an active lifestyle outside of all of this. Goal management is the key!
A useful technique is to break your main goal down into a series of way points, markers if you will, which will be the points by which you measure your progress on the path towards your main goal. We do this within our Strength and Conditioning programming, and it works, so why not do it in life? Applying periodization to your life may just be the thing that you need in order to break your goal down into manageable pieces, which in the end will fit together and allow you to find yourself at the end of your journey with your goal in hand.
So remember, plan, prepare, and prevail! If you do these things, then you will be able to conquer your goals!
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