Goals: “Don’t Go Down Without a Fight!”

I know what you’re thinking… “You’re a little late for the New Year/New Me post, Mark!” Yeah, so we’re a few weeks into the New Year, but still. The reason I wanted to hang on to this post was because no one has an issue with planning and starting a New Year’s Resolution, or what we will refer to as a goal in this article– it’s sticking to and executing that plan that’s the issue for a lot of us.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

Planning your goal is the easy part. It’s the fun part. You buy the cool widgets, download the apps, and/or sign up for the courses/classes that’s going to set you on your journey. You think and daydream about how awesome things will be once you accomplish your goal or goals. You’ve got your gear, your tech, your Instagram/Facebook posts, and you get started. Then life throws a left hook that rattles your plan. You start to second guess your plan, wondering if the outcome is going to be worth it. This is where you either shake it off and get back at it or throw in the towel. To help you counter and take punches from life in pursuit of your goals I’ve listed a few tips and perspectives that will help.

Your Outcome is the Average of Your Efforts

Looking at the path towards a goal as an average of efforts has helped me stay on track. Let’s say you want to learn to play an instrument and your plan is to practice five days a week for 30 minutes each time. If you miss one day a week, you are still getting 80% of the work in. Missing a session does not negate all the other sessions. Don’t let one mishap crush all the work you have done. Jump back on track and keep that average up! Looking at efforts in averages leads us to my next tip–

Bonus Time

When training for my Ironman, I followed an aggressive training program. Something I often did was put in a few extra minutes when I could. If I had a 45 minute run, I would run for 47 minutes or I would hit a few extra laps at the pool at the end of a swim session. Nothing crazy, just a little bonus time. I believe this can be beneficial in two ways. One, each session you put in working towards your goal is in itself a mini goal, the completion of that session. If you not only hit that mini goal, but crush it, it strengthens your confidence towards the main goal. Second, having that bonus time makes up for (or helps you accept) the times you miss or have to cut it short. Life happens. Maybe you can only get a 20 minute run in when your plan calls for 45 minutes or you can’t get it in at all that day. Having a few bonus minutes in the pocket helps to even out some of those interrupted or missed sessions.

It’s important to emphasize that more is not always better. We all know the negative side to overtraining or overdoing it (burnout, injury, etc.). This is just a small amount extra. 2-5% is a good estimate of bonus time.

Keep Going!

No matter how many times you get knocked down, what will make the difference is that you do not quit. Keep going after what you set out to do. If you set out to lose 15 pounds in three months and only lost five, you achieved 33.3% of your goal. That’s tremendously better than 0%. Also, you learned what is realistic. Next time around maybe set your goal for losing six pounds in three months. Then all you have is four to knock out to reach your previous bigger goal of 15. Yeah, it took an additional 6-8 weeks, but you did it!

Instead of giving up, do something, anything, towards your goal. Just accomplishing little efforts can build momentum. That momentum can grow as you start to see your goal is not so far out of reach, after all.

Enjoy the Journey

The pursuit of your goal does not have to be a death march. We too often get caught up in the idea that if the goal is challenging then everything that is involved with it must be challenging. Yes, there will be challenges but there are ways to make them much more bearable. Here are some examples:

  • Learning a new language? Don’t just grind through Rosetta Stone, find a friend that is bilingual. Offer to buy them coffee once a week or jump on a virtual call and work on your progress with them.
  • Want to start running? Plan destination runs instead of mindless loops. Pick a coffee shop to run to and reward yourself when you get there. Find scenic routes to run, or take it off road for some trail running. Get together with friends to run. If you want to start running AND learn a new language (you overachieve you) you can listen to language courses while you run, BOOM!
  • Goal to be a better person? Make friends with people you aspire to be like. I love the saying “you are the sum of the company you keep.” Not only will it help you towards your goal, you might learn what makes them a good person in the first place.

In addition to making the journey more enjoyable, once you reach your goal you have to look back at and appreciate the journey. Some of the goals I pursued and accomplished were filled with amazing experiences. I met awesome people and made new friends, I traveled to new places, and I learned a tremendous amount. Looking back, I value the journey more than I do some of the actual goals.

So keep your head up and keep fighting for what you want. If you do, the achievement of your goal will just be one of the great accomplishments in your journey.

Mark Braithwaite

Mark has competed in Bodybuilding, Triathlon, CrossFit, Weightlifting, and Strongman. He is dedicated to maintaining health and overall wellness while navigating the day to day grind and enjoys helping others along their journey.