By: Bryan Ball
Growing up I had to wake up at 5:30 am for an hour commute to school. During that time the only thing on TV was infomercials for everything from the world’s sharpest zucchini slicer to “P90X”. The famous at home fitness program flashed across my screen as Tony Horton jumped around screaming positive phrases to everyone. Between shots of shirtless people working out were more shirtless people but actual people and their before and after pictures. Being overweight at the time, the mere possibility of finally having a six pack in a mere 90 days seemed too good to pass up. After ordering the DVDs I started right away and was driven for a month and a half by just the thought of finally seeing abs. But after the promised time had passed I didn’t have the glistening physique that my instructors had. Thinking I had simply not worked hard enough I got another set called “Insanity”, and again at the end of the allotted time, I wasn’t at the shape I imagined or so desperately set my goal as.
Throughout the 150+ days I had lost an incredible amount of weight, had started to run as well as rock-climb, cleaned up my diet, and had become overall a much healthier individual than before. Although my body wasn’t the shape I wanted it to be it had changed noticeably for the better, yet I felt terrible about my image and felt like I had not been doing the right things because my goal was so much farther away than I had first thought. Instead of having short-term goals to boost my mentality and taking the time to appreciate the new habits I had made, I was sprinting for my end goal without thought. I might also add that I still do both programs and though my results were not what my ego wanted they both changed my life and I recommend both programs highly.
Whether you’re putting in work at home in between raising kids and a job or you’re the two-plus-hours-a-day gym grinder we all need a ladder of goals to meet our ultimate end goal. Let’s give the example of an overweight gentleman who wants to run a half marathon with his children, but hasn’t run over a mile before in his life. It would be unreasonable to have him try to accomplish his larger goal of running a marathon one month after his first day of training. Now three months pass and the gentleman is depressed because he can only run three miles and that isn’t even halfway. On the other hand, he may no longer be overweight. He may miss this achievement because his focus remains on the long-term goal.
When you plan out short-term goals, which can be monthly, weekly, or even daily you begin to see your progress more and will have a stronger mentality when preparing for your bigger goal. This also gives you things to look forward to, going back to the example of the running man. He could have a goal to run a 5k race once a month for half a year. If that becomes too easy he can change the goals or races to better fit his interests, like making it an obstacle race such as a Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, etc.
If you are working with a trainer and you struggle with your mentality during workouts or feel as if you are lacking motivation ask them to lay out the plan, including the small steps and achievements expected along the way to the bigger goal. Whether it is body weight, weight lifted, body size, or athletic performance don’t be afraid to ask and make sure you are on the right track. Having goals is what drives us as people, not just for our physical goals but our everyday goals in work, education and relationships. We all have an end goal, and no matter how many times we may reach a mile marker we are always setting another one after completion. So don’t let the distance between you and your current goal discourage you, take your time along the journey, for it is on the journey when you truly grow and experience changes inwardly and outwardly.