Goal Setting, sometimes I wonder if it is an exercise in futility.
At the end of last year, I sat down and formulated seven specific goals. They ranged from spiritual goals–pray a decade of the Rosary every morning–to a host of fitness goals. I categorized them into two groups, habit or achievement. I even went as far as to write the critical motivations, the next steps to take, and the rewards for achieving them. They were very SMART, and I was even smarter for working so diligently on them. I planned them so well. I had no concern about achieving them, so I got a head start and went to work two days early.
Each morning, I read a brief description of each and studied all of them in detail once a week. I scheduled blocks of time to work on them. And, I set out intently to make this the year I accomplished all of my goals.
Why I didn’t meet my Goals
Well, that did not last long, and for some unknown reason, I lost interest. By the middle of March, I stopped focusing on the list. I was back to the daily grind. The day-to-day humdrum caught me, and I was living life without a compass. My goals were placed on hold while I was off working on other things, such as a vacation.
Getting pulled in different directions is not the only reason why I stopped actively pursuing my goals. Frustration was another. I wanted to hit specific numbers on the back squat, front squat, press, deadlift, and clean-and-jerk. I developed a program that would get me to those numbers by a particular date. When the week arrived to attempt my lifts, I failed to make any of my goals. I felt this let down mentally and physically. My joints ached, and I was worn down from all the heavy lifting. I stopped short of the goals. Burned out on powering lifting and ready to pursue other activities, I moved on without hitting the numbers I wanted.
Accidentally Meeting Goals Through Regular Activity
If you know anything about lifting, you know recovery is the most crucial part of getting stronger. I am sure I was not allowing myself enough recovery time to make the gains I was expecting from the program. I do not like to take down days, so I was mixing in CrossFit style workouts in with the powerlifting, and seldom taking more than one day off a week. The need for recovery was no more apparent than what took place and the beginning of Fall.
Amazingly, and after not explicitly training for these movements, I met my front squat and clean-and-jerk goals. I got stronger without pushing my self to the breaking point. Recovery is essential, and by staying active, my overall strength increased, allowing me to meet a couple of my fitness goals.
Surprisingly, fitness goals were not the only ones I accidentally met. I will have read my sixth book by the end of the year and will come close to the number of hours I wanted to work on a specific project. Neither of these received my attention after March.
How is this possible?
I have never really been great at goal setting or achievement. Hiistorically, I have fallen short of the goals I set, or I flat out lose motivation to achieve them. I have placed too much emphasis on achievement-oriented goals that have many variables that are outside of my control. They are the type of goals that I can work and work towards, but if everything does not align correctly, I will not make them no matter how much effort I put towards them.
Perhaps, what I have learned after reviewing this year’s goals is that it is more beneficial to place less emphasis on the desired result, and more focus on the work that will produce the result as a side-effect. In other words, want the action and let the consequences be what they are.
Presumably, this is how I met some of the goals I set for this year because I sure didn’t focus on them after March.
Future Goal Setting
This year went fast, and I am sure the next will be just as quick. I don’t feel goal setting in such detail was a futile exercise, so I believe I will carry out the same format for next year. For improvement, I won’t put so much emphasis on acheivement-oriented goals, and I want to reduce the number of goals to improve focus. Prioritizing has always been challenging for me. Restricting the total number of goals should help keep me on track.
How do you set your goals? What are some of them? What are the challenges you face when trying to accomplish them?
I'm a has-been high school athlete who now enjoys CrossFit, baseball, and other athletic activities. As a profession, I design software, and I create the majority of I.M.s content. I do it for the fun of it, but I hope it helps others pursue fitness.