Goals are like a Roadtrip

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I once spent over 24 straight hours in a car with my former fiancee (not Ashley, this was a girl before Ashley). Anyways as the word former might indicate, that road trip was a make or break experience in our relationship.

I’d say during that car ride we made about 1000 bad decisions, not including stopping in Vegas on the way home (which, now that I think of it could have ended up really bad, but didn’t).

We argued over wrong turns.

We didn’t talk for hours on end because of who knows what.

We made up, and then fought again.

We were both excited about reaching our destination. For each of us we were traveling home from the west coast to Indiana, a place we were excited to arrive.

In an alternate relationship I could picture that car ride going much more smoothly.

Instead of arguing over wrong turns, we could have figured out where we went wrong.

Instead of not talking, we could have had a good dialogue on the music we chose.

While I am a pretty good person to turn to for relationship advice, I doubt anyone came here for that chatter today. The car ride, of course, is just a thinly veiled analogy for what it’s like to really, really train. You can make it a good experience, or a bad experience, and the choice is 100% yours for the making.

There are two factors that really going into the process of attacking a goal.

The first are the decisions you make on the front end, and you can guarantee there are going to be wrong turns along the way. Quite possibly those wrong turns are the just a circumstances of what’s going on in your life. In most cases however you have more faculty in the wrong turns.

The second is how you react to those long stretches of open road, and how you react to those wrong turns. This is the bigger of the two factors in determining long term success.

Making good decisions

Let’s start at the end. Do you really know where you want to go? If you can actually achieve that goal,  and most importantly why you want to get there?

Not having a concrete goal is the first problem, it just never works. This might be where the road trip analogy ends, because while it can be quite enjoyable to take a spin in a jeep with your top down with nowhere to go, it’s impossible to get anything done if you don’t have anywhere to go. Have a goal, have 5 goals, but know where you want to get. 

If your goal is to lose weight, make it a number and make it by a date. Instead of “lose weight” say your goal is to “lose 15 lbs by July 31st.” If your goal is to “get stronger” tell me a metric and tell me by what date you want to hit it. Concrete goals make it happen.

As a coach, I have a goal for every single lifter I work with. A pretty standard goal for my athletes is to qualify for their respective national championship. I aim for 100% of my lifters to qualify for their nationals.

Secondary to that goal, is to realistically talk about the next step in their goal setting. What’s the next step? Once you lose the 15 pounds, what will you do? Once you hit your new squat best what’s the next step. If you leave it open ended you are likely to go back to your pre-goal settings.

Knowing if the end point is something you can actually do is pretty freaking important.

You can’t drive to Paris from New York, no matter how long you try, or how hard you work. Some stuff just isn’t going to happen.

Goals don’t have to be “realistic” because those goals are often just too small, adding 5 lbs to your squat in a year isn’t a valid goal. It’s just too easy to do. Instead your goals should be slightly risky. Make it at the edge of your abilities, slightly risky, but something that makes you work for it. Put it out there, try for it, and then work your butt off.

How you react

Your goals are going to punch you in the mouth sometimes. You’re going to come in with hopes and dreams and life  going to squash them. Don’t flip out, don’t get pissed, don’t get sad. React like an adult.

Too often, we believe that every day is make or break for us. It’s an absurd idea when you really think about it.

“This next set of clean and jerks (or squats or whatever) will make me achieve all my goals”

“This next meal is going to make me lose all the weight I’ve ever wanted.”

Nope.

The truth is, this next set, next meal, week, and entire month, taken together, in totality, matter to you realizing your goals. It’s important to note, that it’s pretty much everything coming up that matter, and the next set or next meal is the smallest piece of that.

The mistake people often make is letting a failure on a single item, derail everything. When you get into de-railing entire weeks, and even months because you freak out at every bad turn, now you’re screwing up your potential big time.

Goals are about the long haul. The totality of what you do in a week, month, block, or year. It really is about consistency in showing up, giving a level headed and true effort. When you start getting down on yourself about training because of a missed set or not eating well,  you are going to be more likely to suffer burn out type symptoms. Do that often enough and you won’t have the passion to keep coming back to work.

The only way to make it to your goals for the long haul is to associate positive emotions towards the entire PROCESS. When you start letting negativity creep in, then you are starting the process of quitting what you set out to do. Be realistic, if things aren’t going well consistently, there’s positivity in realizing it’s time for a change.

Oh and that relationship from earlier,  by about a week after the road trip, we were no longer together. It really was a make or break car ride.

Your approach to training, goal setting, the process is your road trip. If you want to survive it you better come at it with some realism, positivity and be ready for some wrong turns.


If you want to set some fitness and nutrition goals and have coaches and a team to hold you accountable let us know and contact us

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