I used to believe that I was well versed in goal setting. I considered myself a "goal setter". And boy, did I set goals! If you believe yourself to be "one of us" expert goal setters...please read on because I'm going to float an idea your way that TOTALLY TRANSFORMED my entire understanding of the enterprise. If you are like I was, you had an opinion that one must "keep your eyes on the prize" and "dream big" and "constantly see clearly your desire in your mind" etc.


You simply choose where you want to go and evaluate where you are then map the straightest course to it. I used this method to choose all sorts of goals. I was well known in my circles for writing my goal number for my next bench press on my arms in magic marker. And posting it on my bathroom mirror in crayon and on my fridge and my car windshield and my watch and basically anywhere I would look during the day to remind myself of that goal. 620. 640. 675. Etc. Just the number was enough to remind me of the most important goal (or often times thing propper) in my life. For better or worse. In lifting it is easy to set the number and focus entirely on that and FOOL OURSELVES that we have been diligent in our goal setting. I had read plenty of advice about the subject and was in agreement that non-specific goals like "my goal is to get stronger" or "I want to increase my bench" were recipes for lack luster results.


A specific goal like a concrete number satisfies this criteria. I was careful to adhere to setting reasonable goals that were neither too hard or too easy. Goals that are too far off and difficult end frequently in frustration, while goals too easily obtained lack any sense of accomplishment. You may or may not know the rest of these suggestions for good goal setting. But I'll go no further down that path because we are going off those rails totally. I'm not for one minute saying that these sage and well tested ideas are false. Nor am I suggesting they be abandoned. I'm saying they are INSUFFICIENT. They are just short of the best advice I've ever heard. So don't abort your tried and true goal setting methods. Just ADD this in. Cont...


Consider the wisdom of SHIFTING the actual focus of your goal from the end point to the NEXT POINT. Ask "what is my next step"? You can have a destination goal of a bench of 500 pounds, but what EXACTLY is your next step to get there? If you bench 455 you may be tempted to answer "my next step is 460." That sounds reasonable and it seems to answer my question. But I'm talking about a shift in your thinking. 460 is the next rung on the ladder of numbers. True. But what is the next step? I mean, shift to thinking about the next ACTION you must take. The very next thing is indeed to bench 460 IF you are AT the meet and called to the platform. But what is THE NEXT ACTION to take if you are four weeks out? If it is your bedtime, THE NEXT ACTION TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL OF A 500 POUND BENCH IS TO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP...TONIGHT! If you ask the question in the morning, it may be to eat a nutritious and healthy breakfast. Later in the day, it could be to do your supplementary triceps workout.


Let me clarify. By shifting your goals to the next thing on your plate in terms of ACTIONS TO TAKE you do not lose sight of the ultimate end point. But you DO put your hands around an action to be taken NOW that will move you to the end. You can chant and dream and believe in your 500 pound bench. But that is a DESTINATION. The most effective goal setting is based more on ACTIONS than end points. How will you achieve your 500 pound press? By doing what actions? Set goals related to the actions you need to take and set them in the present and very near future. This brings the goal in proximity to where you are NOW. TODAY. THIS HOUR. You can still maintain the destination goal that lies 4 weeks in the future. But what goals have you bothered to set for TODAY? By setting goals based on actions that are right at hand you move from dreaming goals and hoping goals and aspirational goals to nitty-gritty, hands-on, real-time acts. You bring the goal right into your lap. You keep it closer than ever. Its right now. It's what happens in the next hour, day, or maybe even minute.


It is important not to overwhelm yourself in detail. But think about how you can set a goal that is connected to something that you can (and must) DO to get to the destination you have assigned yourself. Spend more time thinking about these goals. The smaller, closer, actions that will take you to the end. Challenge yourself to "reach" these goals regularly. Setting destination goals only allows a victory experience every so often. And it can be perilously infrequent. But process goals can be reached quite frequently! And it feels good to reach your goals! It leads to more and bigher goals! Again, they aren't weak, and easy goals just because they happen more regularly. They are challenging and rewarding. But they are at hand. They are here now. They are real. They are linked to the NEXT ACTION that is in the road to the big overall goal. They might be weekly or daily. But they shift you into the now. The now is just the most frequent version of "now" that's happening. It is "now" right now. But tomorrow at this time...it will be "now".


Get busy acting on your dreams instead of dreaming about them. Set goals about the actions that will produce the destination. It will mean more goal setting. But it is a different kind. You have heard the axiom "it's not the destination, it's the journey". Well, this is in register with that kind of thinking. By doing the things required for acquisition of your goal, are you not "doing" your goal? Set goals about DOING not GETTING. In this manner, you can be living your goals out each day that you move in the direction of what you want. The process is a totally different experience. I've done it both ways.


I like this way much better than just GETTING there. I enjoy GOING there. Perhaps you will too.