Anyone can get to 30000 feet in a commercial jet. One man has jumped from the edge of space. What’s the difference? If you want to fly, you can just book a flight online. If you want to freefall for 24 miles you have to train, plan, and wait patiently for the opportunity to come. That means that if you want to achieve something exceptional, you have to do more than imagine it. But are you setting the right goals?
Set Realistic Goals
You’ve just started training, and you’ve decided you’re going to be Mr. Olympia in three years. That’s not going to happen. What’s more realistic? How about winning a regional show?
Don’t set modest goals, set ambitious goals that you can achieve with a lot of effort and dedication. You can have dreams, but remember that you have to wake up from them every day and make them happen.
Constrain Your Time and Resources
How much time are you willing to spend on your goals? How much money will you invest? Decide that before you start, because otherwise you’ll always convince yourself that you’ll be finished in a few days, weeks, months, years. And then you’ll find that you’re never finished. If this means that you don’t achieve your goal, it doesn’t matter. You can decide whether or not you need to set a new goal at this point, or adjust your criteria for success.
Which would be better: spending 12 weeks dieting to 8% bodyfat, or dieting to 6% no matter how long it takes? You might realise after 12 weeks that you’re happy with the way that you look, and you’ll know that you could continue to diet to 6% if you wanted to. You’d have a better idea of how long it’d take, and how difficult it’d be at that point too.
And how much of your resources are you willing to pour into it? Do you have other important things in your life you need to spend money or time on? Which ones can you sacrifice, and which ones are essential?
Stacking the Deck
Structure your life to maximise your chance of success and minimise your chance of failure. If you’re dieting, don’t have food in the house that will ruin your progress. Or choose a flexible approach that allows you to eat what you want within reason. Or have a cheat meal, a cheat day. Whatever works best for you.
Imagine you’re playing a strategy game, you want to give yourself as many winning moves as possible, and remove them from your opponent. Identify the most destructive habits and influences in your life, try to restrain them as much as possible. And give yourself as much freedom to do the right thing as you possibly can.
For example, suppose that you don’t have time for breakfast in the morning, and you’re struggling to fit it into your schedule. Why not just fast? Or if you have short, regular breaks at work, adopt a more traditional eating pattern.
Accountability and Reward
Don’t reward yourself for making goals. Everyone can resolve to change, but it is meaningless without actions. Define your success internally, but make yourself accountable externally. Make failure an uncomfortable option, as much as success is appealing.
“The secret to maintaining a lean body? Book a photoshoot at least twice a year.”