Goal setting is fun. Really fun. We get to think about all the cool stuff that we want to do with our lives, all the places we wanna go, the weights we wanna lift, all the radness we want to achieve. When you achieve something you want to, you can proudly cross an item off your list — one that you have earned.
But if goals are so rad, why do so many people struggle with them?
Why do we spend so much time trying to create new and better ones when the old ones don’t pan out as expected?
Case in Point: New Years Resolutions. They’ve become such a watered-down exercise in personal change that they have become a running joke. At cocktail parties across the world on the eve of a New Year people joke about the resolutions they are never going to keep.
But if we have the intention to do better, to be fitter and faster, than why do we have such a hard time seeing them through?
Reasons Goal Setting is So Tough
Deadlines rarely work. Some people work with deadlines, others don’t. When those deadlines come in too quickly, we get discouraged and throw the whole goal out the window.
We stink at forecasting at how long it will take to accomplish something. There is nothing worse than coming up against a random setback or something you didn’t come up with in the first place. Illness, injury, a full weekend bender of Netflix can all seem like setbacks but can also count as simply living your life. Those who are diving into a fresh workout plan, and aren’t as realistic as they need to be about how much time it takes to make that progress are especially prone to this.
Goals are all or nothing. Goal setting tends to make us a little crazy. And panicked. As a result, we launch ourselves into whatever it is we want to achieve with everything we have. Before long—for some it is a couple days, others make it for a couple weeks—we get burnt out. A routine—especially one that is so small that it is impossible to say no to, builds something exceptionally more powerful than anything you can achieve with a spurt of high amounts of effort—and that is making exercise habitual.
Deadlines are almost always inflexible. Achieving a goal is a best case scenario. It requires you to be 100% on, every time you are at the gym, with every day required to be a top-notch workout in order to achieve your goal.“I am going to need to go to the gym every day for the rest of the month to hit my target!” And while holding a gun to your head might work for some people, it doesn’t work for most.
Goals leave you feeling “less than.” The thing I like least about goals is that the moment you make one, it immediately puts you in a position of feeling as “less than” Your goal is to lose ten pounds? Until that happens you will always feel like something is lacking. Wanna add 100 pounds to your bench press? You’ll view yourself unfavorably or as “weak” until you hit that goal.
The Power of Implementing Routines
So if there are limitations to goals and goal setting, how do we go about getting the things we want? Simply: Adopt routine. Be willing to embrace the boring consistency that comes from showing up every day at the gym. After all… Something funny happens when we adopt the routine and systems.
They remove the pressure that comes with them, and takes you out of a mindset where you are stressed about whether you are progressing fast enough, to a mindset where you are focusing on taking things one day at a time. At that point the end goal, the reason you initially got back into the gym or ramped up your commitment to the gym, is almost moot. The goal, the scale, the measuring tape, are all things that fall to the back of your mind.
And to be frank, it is a pretty liberating feeling.
When you can unshackle yourself from the chains and pressures of that goal in the horizon, of stressing about whether or not you are making the kind of progress you want at the pace you desire, than you can unburden yourself and focus solely on the workout today
Destroying your squat PR is going to be a hell of a thing. Running 2 miles further then the week before is awesome. Benching a weight you always thought impossible is rad. Something to pause and celebrate.
But being the guy or gal that shows up every day and absolutely kills it at the gym? Now that is something to be stoked about.
This post was originally published over at YourWorkoutBook.com.