Step one in attaining a goal, is to determine what matters to you, and align your behaviors with that goal. Step two is to remain focused when you get distracted; because you will. The human brain just works this way and the next thing you know we’ve strayed right off the successful path to glory, and find ourselves in a confusion of multiple goals, unattainable standards, and little to no progress towards anything. Our age of social media encourages this by always reminding us of the things we are not doing, and how poorly we’re not doing it.
‘I know I have a powerlifting meet coming up, but did you see how lean that guy is?!”
“I’m trying to get lean right now for summer, but I feel so weak and everyone on IG is so strong!”
These thoughts seem harmless, and who wouldn’t want to be perfect at everything, but this distraction wavers our focus. Taken too far, it can de-motivate even the best of us to accept the ‘what’s the point’ attitude and then all the wheels fall of.
Here are some current goals of the people I work with as an example:
- Prep for a DL competition
- Rehab from surgery
- Get as strong as possible
- Return to pain free living
While seemingly similar, none of these goals overlap entirely. My client prepping for a DL competition shouldn’t be overly worried about his bench press. My client rehabbing from surgery shouldn’t be overly worried about her lost strength. My client trying to get as strong as possible must accept the tiny aches and pains that accompany the process. My client returning to pain free living must accept that workouts won’t be all out until she feels good again. All of these folks MUST remember what the most important thing is, and give themselves a break for not being able to ride two horses with only one ass. Even Oprah said, “You can have it all...you just can’t have it all at once.”
90/90 breathing drill- great activation drill for the adductors and core, but it won’t make you stronger
Deadlift- makes you strong but it won’t change your hair color or your grades in high school
There is a physiological component to keeping one goal at a time as well. Becoming strong and improving cardiovascular endurance require competing adaptations in a muscle cell. One requires it to get bigger and more powerful, and the other requires it to get smaller and more efficient. You can’t get maximally strong, and maximally endurant in the same way that it’s impossible drive to Maine and Florida at the same time.
Many of us in the DC area expect a lot of ourselves, and this has obvious benefits. This thought process is good though, only as long as it is useful. Does your inner cattle prod make you finish a report on time and go to bed? Or does it keep you up all night second guessing what you wrote? Does it improve your performance or discourage it? Demanding more of yourself is good, until you become overly worried and find yourself in a ruminating, mind-churning, negative thought diarrhea that can keep you up all night. Focusing on one goal at a time lets you go easy on the internal cattle prod, so you can forgive yourself for the things you’re not perfect at right now. I’m not very good at the piano, and I never will be. I’m ok with that, because it’s not my goal at the moment. Allow yourself to focus in the gym on your own goals, and not everyone else's.
If you find yourself easily distracted and your goals shift every week or so, it’s possible you’re not that serious about attaining them. Goals are different than ‘wants’. I want to be taller. I want to be leaner. Wanting isn’t enough though, unless I’m willing to align my goals and behavior. But once you’re ready to take this step, dedicate yourself fully to the task at hand. Forgive yourself for not being perfect at everything all the time. Keep your eyes on the prize with measurable progress, instead of expecting yourself to hit 10 targets with just one shot. Pick a goal that is meaningful, align your behaviors to attain it, and attack it with everything you’ve got.
Scarf snacks :)