Historically, this is the time of year we all make our “New Year’s Resolutions”. We create all kinds of goals that will take us to the next level.
“I am going to lose 20lbs”
“I will go to the gym 5 days a week”
“I will reduce my monthly expenses”
“I will stop waking up at 4am, sleep walking to the refrigerator, eating half a jar of peanut butter and returning to bed looking like a deranged homeless guy” (Yep, that’s me)
Actually, my girlfriend says I look like a “gargantuan infant with a goatee covered in Jiff”. Go ahead…picture it…I don’t think it’s a compliment…ha ha
Anyway, in looking at myself and those I train, I noticed several variables that influence the probability of achieving goals. Following are some of my observations:
1. Think big! – Steve is the best personification of this principle I can think of. Steve thinks global instead of local. He thinks of being in a movie vs. just being on You Tube. You get the idea. Why limit yourself by defining a narrow range of possibilities? And for sure don’t let ANYONE else define what your limits are.
2. Progression – Although it’s important to have “big” goals, you need to have smaller goals that bridge the gap between now and then. You have to conceptually connect the dots until you can truly picture/feel that goal is a possibility. This is critical. If you really don’t feel it’s a possible, you will eventually lose steam.
3. Modeling – No need to reinvent the wheel. If you know someone who has accomplished what you want, find out how they got there. Research not only the process, but how they thought – their attitudes, their beliefs, how they responded to obstacles etc.
4. Write it down – It’s been said the simple act of just writing down your goals will increase their probability of happening by 15%. This starts the manifestation process and creates a sense of accountability (more on that later). Similarly, develop a “vision board” – a wall or cork board with pictures connected to the things you want. If you desire to visit the UK, include pictures of London and Edinburgh. If you want to do bad ass feats of strength like IKFF Instructor John “Wild” Buckley, include the below:
If you want to be part of the IKFF rap group “Double Snatch”, include the below:
5. Be specific – ambiguous goals are like ambiguous driving directions; your chances of getting where you want to go are slim. State them as specifically as possible.
6. State as a positive – The unconscious mind doesn’t understand negation. So, when people say things like “I don’t want to be fat”, the unconscious mind hears “I want to be fat”. It’s more productive to state “I want to be super lean with a bodyfat percentage of 9% by April, 2010”.
7. State in the past tense – Again, to get the unconscious mind working for you; state your goals as if they have already been accomplished. Example – “I won my division at the Arnold Sports Festival Kettlebell Championships and set a new PR”
8. Include a timeline – All goals should have a clear start and completion date. Example – “I will jerk the 40kg k-bell 100 times in 3 minutes by March 7th”.
9. Make it Measurable – One of the reasons I love training for kettlebell sport is because it’s very measurable. I can track weight, repetitions, length of set, recovery time etc. There is always clarity as to whether I am moving towards/away from my goal. Thus, regardless of your desired outcome, ensure there is always a clear way you can measure progress.
10. Failure is only feedback – although easier said than done, learn to disconnect from the emotional component of failure and just see it as feedback. As Edison said – “I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work.” So, in a sense, if you aren’t failing, you are not trying.
11. Awareness – Always be aware of whether your actions are taking you closer/ further away from your goal. Having the sensory acuity to stay dialed in to what’s going on will save you time and keep you on track. Thus, make it a daily task to assess where you are at.
12. Flexibility – It’s been said that the person with the most flexibility within a given system will have the most impact on that system. In other words, your ability to deal with adversity and create new plans of action when things aren’t working is a huge component of success. So, as mentioned above, if you become aware of a better way, it’s critical that you adapt and change your game plan.
13. Make yourself accountable – set timelines for your goals, tell others and share them in other ways (like blogging about them). Example – below are some of my training goals for 2010:
- Long Cycle: 32kg’s x 10 min x 82 reps
- Long Cycle: 24kg’s x 10 min x 110 reps
- Jerk: 24kg’s x 3 min x 100 reps
- One arm jerk: 40kg x 3 min x 100 reps
- One arm Pressing: 32kg x 2 min x 100 reps
- Chair Press: 32kg’s x 10 min x 72 reps
14. Congruency – This is important on several levels. Your goals need to be in alignment with your desires, beliefs and values. Example – maybe what initially pops into your mind is a promotion to a new position at work. However, maybe that position isn’t really congruent with who you are? Thus, in the goal setting process, it’s key to do a comprehensive inventory of what is important to you, what things you value most, identify your strongest beliefs etc. In addition, once goals are set, you need to ensure your follow up actions are in alignment with attaining those goals. This ties into the comments on awareness mentioned above. You may be crushing it in the gym, but if you are staying up late/not getting enough sleep, your recovery will be compromised and so will your results.
15. Study motivation – Research and learn what motivates you. This is your fuel! Everyone is excited and passionate about goals in the beginning. However, this tends to dwindle with time as the hard work accumulates. Utilize whatever tools you need to stay motivated – visualization, setting short term goals, telling others and so on. Also, give yourself some rewards along the way as you reach certain milestones – plan a night out, order a new fitness product, or set up a photo shoot with IKFF heartthrob Jason Dolby.
16. It’s not always fun – Our friend Mike Mahler wrote a good article about how doing what you love is not always easy. Actually, it can be more difficult than doing something you really don’t care about. Thus, have a strategy in place for how you are going to deal with the low points in your journey – it’s inevitable it will happen so have a plan for that as well.
17. Have goals in all areas of life – Everything is interrelated. Your finances affect your ability to travel, your job affects the amount of time you can train, your relationships will support or undermine your goals etc. So, have goals in all the key areas: physical, mental, spiritual, family, social and financial. Have all areas working FOR each other instead of against each other.
18. Action – All of the above is useless unless you take action. To quote Aristotle – “We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions”. Many folks do a fantastic job of writing out their goals, creating vision boards and implementing the right mental strategies. They just don’t take the next step – implementing the plan.
19. Act as if – Once you start this process, DO NOT wait to feel good about yourself. Thoughts and behavior are habitual. Thus, the sooner you start “acting as if” you have already reached your goal, the more those thoughts/ behaviors will contribute to making that goal a reality. Muhammad Ali is a terrific example of this. His actions were that of a champion on every level long before beating Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight Championship.