The problem with goals is the fact they end at the goal.
Isn’t that the point of a goal? Yes, and no. A goal is a destination, but the destination is ongoing. If you start a new career, or job, you don’t show up on the first day and say, “I made it, finally, now I can relax.” You don’t save up for a down payment on that dream vehicle, walk into the dealership, get approved for financing, slap 20% down, and then walk out with a new vehicle waiting to be delivered to you and never make a payment again, do you?
Unless you want to either be fired quickly or have that dream car repo’ed, you don’t.
Goals are a start, not an end.
I will expand upon this using an n=1 example of myself. Bear with me while I set the stage a little.
When I started lifting weights, I was a skinny – but athletic – 180 pound kid. When I first reached the 200 pound mark, I was elated and grew addicted to gaining size. My introduction to lifting seriously was from Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Ironman, Muscular Development, and the bodybuilders at the gyms I trained at.
I wanted to be huge, and I made it happen.
To save you the monotonous idiocy of giving you a play by play rundown of what I ate, and how my size transitioned, I will simply say that I ended up getting up to 280 pounds plus, and I played Superleague rugby weighing 270.
To put it mildly, I was big.
When I went through my heart failure scare at 41 years old, the wake-up call arrived, and it still took me some years to accept the fact that I would be better off smaller than bigger.
I made my identity in my size, my strength, and my physically intimidating presence. I would throw mini-tantrums over bad workouts, eat excessively, and I was flat-out addicted to being the biggest man in the room.
I knew better, and I coached people better than I treated myself, but I couldn’t break the mindset that was influenced by that irrational voice saying, “you can’t be below 230, you will be small and weak.” I was convinced my walk-around weight was 240, and I am positive I subconsciously made that happen with habits and the good old placebo effect.
One day, at my gym, Kansas City Barbell, while prepping to compete in one last PL meet to set some state records, I had enough.
I decided that day to stop trying to fight through pain to keep being stronger. Everything hurt on me. My knees ached when I slept and sat. The pain would wake me up at night. My lower back was constantly aching, and my hips flat out were in agony. It was embarrassing to sit down on a floor having to pull myself up like an immobile old man.
This set the stage for my transition back into pure bodybuilding training, which is the reason I joined a gym 30 years ago. I trained, fell back in love with it, shaped up better, and decided to prep for physique show on a whim because of Ryan Sylva’s suggestion. I hired a local coach, Jason May, and worked. I cut, I posed, I followed the plan to the letter. I trained like a man possessed with a single goal, and I achieved it.
I earned second in my first show ever, and I was hooked.
The night of my show, we went for a celebratory meal which turned into a celebratory festival of gluttony. I weighed 15 pounds heavier the next morning because of that binge-festival, and it took a week to get the excess water drained from my body. Lesson learned, right?
That off-season I went back up to 250 pounds in my quest to add more muscle to my frame to compete in a show on June 11, four days from now. Admittedly, I ate more than I needed to, and that is on me, because I don’t think I was mentally ready to be comfortable walking around at a smaller size.
That all changed recently.
When I was six weeks out from the Omaha show, I pulled out to postpone the rest of my prep. I was sitting at 218 pounds, and I was vastly ahead of the game compared to the last showing in November. I was leaner, crisper, and the posing was better. I pulled out for one simple reason – my mental health was staggeringly bad.
The prep didn’t do it to me; it was my lack of self-work. It was hitting me hard, and depression left me feeling like I wanted to never wake up. Suicide crossed my mind a few times, even though I know I wouldn’t go through with it.
I sought help and took care of the mental side of me with a vengeance
Here’s the interesting part. I could maintain my weight around 220 since then, and today when I woke up I was sitting exactly at 220.6. Six weeks have gone by and I have maintained a weight I never thought I would be able to.
I broke through my limiting beliefs without even trying to.
What made this a reality?
Cutting made me realize I feel and look better smaller. I can move better, sleep deeper (usually, when stress isn’t running through me like a hot knife through butter), and clothes fit as they should. I am still a “big” man, but I am not imposing these irrational ideas of bigness onto myself, which are extrapolated from the extreme ends of the fitness world. The reality is this, big isn’t fun for me anymore, and I accepted that fact without arguing with myself over it, or attempting to justify bad habits to keep this concept of size and strength embedded in my head.
I made a goal a sustainable path because I chose to do so. I eat less, and I am not as obsessive about training as I have been in the past. Yes, I train hard, but I will push a day back if I am not feeling it because training four days a week gives me that luxury to do so without missing a session. Even if I have to miss a session, I will not sweat it.
Last week I didn’t want to go to the gym for my upper body push day. Instead, I stayed home and did a plethora of push-ups from various angles, hand widths, and tempos. I set the timer for 20 minutes and worked.
The sustainability takes work and a cognizant awareness of what you are eating, how you are recovering, and a commitment to your health. It’s not an end when you reach your goal. It’s a beginning.
Instead of framing a goal as, “I MADE IT!” you need to frame it as, “ok, now what, how can I make this my new normal in a sustainable way.”
That thought process begins a new life for you, and it’s incredibly rewarding to not only feel accomplished when you reach a goal, but be able to be confident in your ability to hover around that area for a long time.
Success is repeatable, not a landmark to pass through.
Let’s get you into the success mode.
Pick up a copy of Behemoth Strong on PDF. .
Like the Kansas City Barbell gym's Facebook Page for news on events, programs, hosted meets, and more!.