Saturday, April 9, 2016

Goal Setting

While driving home from the gym the other day, I was basking in the after workout high that comes from pushing hard and my mind began to wander to the idea of goals.  Most of us have them.  Most of us will reach some of them but in general we fail more than we succeed.  There are numerous articles dedicated to accomplishing them so I won't regurgitate them here (though they certainly hold value and I recommend checking various ones out on a regular basis).  Instead, I want to discuss the idea of goals that are fluid and others that may change entirely.  You see, a goal you have today may not be a goal you have tomorrow and sometimes I think we put that in the failure pile when in reality life changes and as such so do the things we hold to be important.  Now, I'm not talking about giving up on a goal simply because it's hard or seems impossible because I certainly wouldn't recommend that.  I'm talking about how in life, what's important (or possible in some cases as you'll read) sometimes changes and with that so will your goals and aspirations. This can and should be embraced.

A little over a year ago when I returned to the gym, I had discussion's with Shawna about possibly entering a power lifting meet in the future.  It was exciting to think about competing in something I enjoyed and it was developing into a goal up to and even following my injury.  Following my surgery and during the subsequent rehab, however, things have changed.  I still have goals but they now pertain to my all-around health and fitness as opposed to competing.  Don't get my wrong, every time I enter the gym I do so with the plan to compete against my previous visit but I currently have no plans to participate in a competitive setting against other people. That of course could change again in the future and I certainly won't close the door on the idea, but for now, it's out of the picture. So what are my goals now?  Get my weight to 225, run a sub 7 minute mile, hit a 4 mile ruck march with at least a 35 lb pack in under an hour, and hit 400, 500, 600, on what many consider the three main lifts; bench, squat, and dead lift.  I have no idea the possibility of achieving all these, the dead lift in particular given the back issues I'm rehabilitating from, but as of now they seem obtainable if I put the work in.  To me, hitting all these numbers will indicate that my strength as well as my cardiovascular health are in a pretty decent place for someone in their mid 30's, especially in contrast with the general health of American's.  The point here is that my goals have shifted.  No longer am I'm concerned simply with my max strength (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoy the hell out of watching and reading about the men and women setting PR's and records) but I'm looking for all around health because I don't believe I've ever achieved that.  If I end up feeling stronger than I ever have, that'll be a bonus (not to mention a valid possibility given how unbalanced I've always been) and I certainly won't complain.  But on my list of goals it's now taken a back seat to something I believe to be more important.

For anyone that doesn't know Shawna, shifting goals has become a major part of her life in the past few years. When she was in the military she had the goal of becoming a doctor and someday owning a Maserati. Once her health issues began and in the time following, those goal's were taken from her.  However, rather than giving in she stepped back, reevaluated, and she now has designs on becoming a renown ceramic artist.
Shawna working on her craft.
Her past goals are not her current goals but that's OK because she didn't simply give up, but rather she adjusted. The passion and time she once put into her past goal is now focused upon current one.  And that's what's truly important here.  Though her original goal has changed, the idea of continuing to pursue a passion has not. This is important because it feels as though all to often we as humans (myself included) have a propensity to become so frustrated with not completing a specific goal, we give up on trying to achieve others because we fail to realize there are other opportunities that we now have the time and energy to invest in.

For Shawna and I goal setting is a regular thing.  Sure we fail in some endeavors but we're both improving in using our failures as opportunities to learn and further our goals, even if the road gets a little bumpier than we anticipated at the outset.  Some goals we've achieved (buying a house), others are in the process (getting her a studio built so she can work toward becoming the artist she envisions), and some have outright failed (me trying to quit tobacco...multiple times) but during and following each success and failure, we use the knowledge and information gained to adjust, create, and dispose of various goals.  Some goals are set as stepping stones to bigger ones (lose the first 20 lbs toward my weight loss goal), and even to achieve that there will be other, even smaller goals (record my diet everyday for a week, month, six months, on the MyFitnessPal app).  Along the way some goals may be scrapped for various reasons ( example: my initial running goal may be set aside if it impacts my health negatively in the beginning) but that does not mean I will discard the idea of running all together.  It simply means that I'll need to adjust that specific goal and once I meet it, I can either reclaim my previous goal or set another.  The point being, my goal will be adjusted as needed and not simply abandoned.  This is one of the great things about goals, they can be flexible even though we seem to have a habit of believing they are required to be fixed.  Do some fall into that category? Absolutely!  We had a goal to own a home.  This was a fixed goal for us as a family because nothing other than signing away a large portion of our future income to the bank in exchange for our name on the title was acceptable.  However, the goals that helped us arrive to this point, in many cases, were flexible. What we wanted at the beginning of our search was not same towards the end and had to be adjusted accordingly. Again, the flexible goals are what allowed us in the end, to achieve our main, or fixed, goal.

I'm a firm believer in setting goals.  I do so at the beginning of the year in lieu of making resolutions and by simply changing the terms I've noticed a marked difference in how many of them I tend to accomplish. Sometimes I'll make daily goals and as I'm willing to best most people experience, very rarely do I actually create a list that I can accomplish during my waking hours.  What happens to me seems to fit the, "people overestimate what we can do in a single day and underestimate what they can do in their whole lives" - (anonymous) quote and it's something I'm working on.  Accordingly I've created an actual goal to add and follow weekly and monthly goals to assist myself in reaching those on my long term list.

Goals, goals, goals.  Set them. Even if you don't reach them all you've given yourself a path because every failure will lead to other paths, one of which may be where your success lies.

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.
-Michael Jordan         

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