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Vikings are known as a culture of not only for ruthlessness but also for achievements; for expanding culture, for expanding ideas, and for doing things that, at the time, were considered awe-inspiring if not impossible.  They were the first people to ever sail across the open ocean from Europe and find North America – in ships that would seem tiny to us, no less. They sailed to the Mediterranean from Scandinavia, also a long and perilous journey.  And they did it all because of the way that they perceived goals.

If you’re the type of person that believes it’s better to reach for an unreachable goal no matter the risk of failing than to live an easier, less noteworthy existence, then you may have what it takes to achieve great things.  However, greatness isn’t something that just happens to you.  Great accomplishments require more work.  They require more time.  They require more focus.  They require more attention to detail.  They require more obsession and less balance.  To a lot of people out there in this world, obsession is a dirty word.  They’re also the people who almost never make it anywhere in life.  You have to be obsessed if you’re going to be the truly best version you can be.  And you have to be asking if everything that you’re doing is working you towards your goals.

You have to be obsessed if you’re going to be the truly best version you can be.

Because if you’re truly going to be the best version of yourself, you have to commit to it.  Now, that doesn’t mean ignoring everything else.  That means integrating your greater goals into every part of your life.  Is it a very high athletic goal?  Maybe even becoming a professional athlete or winning a prestigious championship?  Or just reaching some big numbers or achievements in training that you know will make you feel great about yourself?

Then integrate it into every part of your life.

No one, or almost no one, that has ever attained those high levels of success, that has accomplished never-before-seen feats, would tell you that it was not worth it.  And that is the very reason that people are attracted to high goals.  The journey towards achieving greatness, let alone the achievement itself, gives you a feeling of accomplishment that’s rare in other parts of life.

The journey is rewarding, but make no mistake – achieving goals is the purpose of the training process.  When we train clients, whether for sports or for general fitness, to feel better or for confidence, it is because we’re trying to achieve specific goals.  That is the difference between training and working out in the weight room.  Training is the process of achieving a goal, of working towards a goal.  Working out or exercising can involve the exact same movements but is held back to the things that don’t have an exact, specific purpose.

At that point, you’re just exercising.  You’re just trying to get in general shape, that’s all you have to do.  Imprecise and poorly defined goals yield imprecise and poorly defined results.  If you have a specific goal, however, like winning a state championship, setting a new personal record on your deadlift, winning a scholarship by improving your football game, then you’re looking at precisely defined accomplishments and you have to train for those goals.  Just working out and just exercising will no longer do the trick.  You have crossed over into needing to train.  And training is specific.

How to set goals is talked about in many different ways, but all good goals have a few things in common.  You may have heard of SMART Goals.  SMART goals stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Sensitive

To have proper goals which will actually help you get to those higher levels in your life and achievement that you want, your goals need to have these five characteristics.  Let’s take a look at each aspect individually. 

Specific Goals

Having only a general goal will only get you so far.  But you’ll find very quickly that general goals are more like a philosophy, where it’s an overall feeling.  These kinds of goals may sound like “I want to feel better.”  “I want to feel stronger.”  “I want to be able to run faster.”  These kinds of goals may have some limited amount of detail, but they don’t have a target that is quantifiable; a line in the sand which can let you say that you’ve reached it or that you’ve fallen short.

Feeling fitter, feeling stronger, running faster, et cetera, can be just general feelings that you’re going for, but to truly reach another level, your goal has to be specific.  And the more specific you goal is, the better you will be able to focus on crafting and following an optimal plan.  Give an exact number for how much you want to improve your running, your speed, your vertical, your blood pressure – anything.  Make it exact. Or do you have an exact number that you want to hit on key lifts?  Are those goals specific to your sport or to your lifestyle?

The more precise you can make your goals, particularly the goals you’re going to hold as your priority standards, then the more precise the training plan can be and the more successful you’ll find after committing to it.

Measurable Goals

Being measurable goes hand-in-hand with a goal being specific.  If it’s a goal that you can specifically measure and quantify, then you can create a roadmap for how to get there and what milestones you need to hit along the way.  You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.  For example, maybe you have a goal of bench pressing 300 pounds.  If you currently bench 225, then you know you have to reach 235 first.  Then 245.  And then 255. Now, you may not have to exactly hit every single weight along the way but your body has to incrementally become capable of lifting those weights all the way up to your goal of 300 pounds.

The same applies to sports, not just the weight room.  For example, winning a conference championship has to start with reaching a certain record to qualify for the playoffs.  The more measurable you can make that goal, then the better it shall be.  And in an endeavor like strength and conditioning, the more you can measure it then the more you can test and combine variables in order to create the result that you want.

In essence – you’re creating a path.  And the body is full of variables.  It’s an adaptive organism.  You give it a path about how you want it to adapt and that is how we create training progress.  The more we can measure the goals that we want at the end, the better we can craft the adaptation process.

Attainable Goals

It may seem obvious at face value, but your goal has to be something that you can do. This does not mean make it easy!  I hate it when people say that you have to keep goals “realistic.”  You have to keep them realistic in the sense that it has to be able to happen; something that is possible within the laws of physics and the universe.  But if you set yourself a low goal just because it is something you can reach, then what’s he point?  What type of greatness are you trying to achieve?  None.

It does have to be attainable, but it should be something greater than what you are able to do now.  So that even if you fall short, then you will still be left at a better place because of the work you did in your attempt to achieve greatness.

Relevant Training

In a way, we’re coming back to the same point as before but on a smaller scale.  Maybe your long-term goal is specific, measurable, and attainable.  But are your short-term goals all of those things as well?  If your long-term goals are to win a championship, to make a varsity team, become an All-American as an athlete, for example, then your short-term goals need to be relevant to that outcome.  Are you becoming faster?  Are you becoming better-conditioned for the demands that you’ll find on the field or in the stadium?  Are you studying the philosophy of the sport?  Are you studying the movements and improving them?

This also applies to general fitness.  You want to lose weight.  Maybe you have a suit or a dress that you want to fit into for an occasion.  Maybe your blood markers aren’t looking that great and you need to get your blood pressure down.  Then are your smaller goals relevant to that larger, over-arching goal?  You’re going to need to be burning some calories.  Your nutrition is going to have to be on point.

But if your smaller goals instead are based on something completely unrelated to that, while they may have some individual benefits, they will not come together comprehensively to help you achieve that greater goal. 

Time-Sensitive Training

Time is a big part of setting goals that a lot of people miss.  They have goals but they don’t give themselves a deadline.  And that deadline is key to actually trying to push yourself and taking the actions that you need to make the goal happen and to make the outcome your new reality.

It’s great to think to yourself that you want to hit a certain number on a lift.  It’s great to think to yourself you want to have a certain achievement in competition.  Or in any aspect of life, be it in business or in your family life; these sort of bucket list moments.  But if you don’t set yourself when they need to happen by, then either they’ll pass you by and it’ll never happen, and you’ll say, “I started too late, I missed my chance.”  Or worse, you’ll never even take those first steps.

By giving yourself a deadline, you’re taking a crucial step towards accountability and making sure that you actually will get up and get started on the path to your goals and to achieving them.  For example, if you have that lift you want to hit, look at your plan, look at your calendar, tell yourself when you want to hit it by.  Is it by an actual contest?  Is it by a competition or a season?  Or is it just after a good training cycle on your own?  Same thing with any goal.  You have to have these deadlines. 

More to Come – For a continuation on Goals (this was a long piece), check out the next post, coming 4/12/19!