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There are many different schools of thought on how to set goals.
Some swear by the SMART goal-setting paradigm.
Others rely on affirmations, meditation, or journaling.
And others kibosh goal-setting altogether and simply focus on envisioning a better future, hoping their thoughts transmogrify into reality.
If you’ve played with any of these approaches, though, you’ve probably noticed that they tend to go nowhere fast.
You keep reviewing your SMART goals, telling yourself to think positive, filling page after page of your diary, or chipping away at a few choice habits, but after a few weeks or months, you lose heart.
Many people chalk up their failure to a lack of discipline, determination, or motivation, and while these can be factors, their biggest mistake lies in putting their faith in faulty, facile goal-setting systems.
Most of the goal-setting models I just described have merit, but they also tend to be incomplete or ineffective when put to the acid test.
Like a map without a compass, they help you feel like you’re on the right track without providing all of the tools and information you need to reach your destination.
I’ve spent many years reading about and testing various goal-setting strategies, and I’ve come to believe there’s no one winning formula that works for everyone under all circumstances. That said, there are some evidence-based goal-setting principles that you can apply in every situation that will increase your chances of success.
And in this podcast, you’ll learn to look at goal setting in a new, more productive light.
Be warned: This isn’t a rah-rah you-can-do-it approach. It won’t be comfortable. But it’ll work.
Before we get into all of that, though, let’s first diagnose the problem with most approaches to goal setting.
5:56 – What are the problems with how people set goals?
9:28 – What are the characteristics, habits, and behaviors of entrepreneurs?
31:18 – How can I better achieve my fitness goals?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Must For Life. Welcome, welcome, and thank you for joining me today to learn a bit about goals, a better way to set goals and to use goals to drive performance and results than. How many people go about it? Now, there are many different schools of thought on this, of course, on how to set goals and how to use goals properly.
Some people swear by the smart goal setting paradigm, for example, and that’s an acronym specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. You’ve probably come across that before if you have read or listened to anything about setting goals, other people. Don’t subscribe to that philosophy, but they rely more on affirmations and mindfulness, maybe meditation, journaling, and others still kibosh goal setting altogether, and just focus on envisioning a better future and then hoping that somehow.
Thinking the right thoughts will activate their big growth energy and enable them to own their power and manifest their abundance. And yeah, that tells you what I think about all of that. I’m a big believer in optimism and in positive thinking. For example, I liked the book The Magic of Thinking Big, and I often recommend that book.
If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do read it. I do agree with many of the ideas in it, but what I. Disagree with simply because it doesn’t work. Is any philosophy that revolves around the idea that the primary component of success, the fulcrum is thinking the right thoughts. No, that is not.
Effort is work is consistent effort, consistent work, and often that means putting effort and work into things that you don’t really want to do, but you make yourself do them because you know that you need to do them to reach your goal. Your purpose is stronger than your aversion to doing the. And so beware any mindset or worldview or advice that tries to move you in the other direction, that tries to move you away from exerting effort and large amounts of effort consistently, because it’s a trap and it’s going to fail you.
And so anyway, getting back on track here, back to speaking about goals. If you have tried any of the approaches, Mentioned a few minutes ago, you’ve probably noticed that they don’t work really well. You keep reviewing your smart goals. You keep telling yourself to think positive. You keep filling page after page of your diary or chipping away at a few choice habits, but.
Eventually you just lose heart because the results are not there. Now many people chalk that failure up to a lack of discipline or determination or motivation. And while those certainly can be factors, often the biggest mistake lies in just putting their faith in faulty goal setting systems because the models that I described earlier do have some.
But when it comes to the crunch, they also tend to be ineffective or at least incomplete. And oftentimes when people do report success with them, they don’t realize that they have made up for the deficiencies that they did more than just the smart goals or just the affirmations. They did some other key things that enabled them to succeed, and without those things, they would’ve.
And I’m gonna be talking about all of that in today’s episode, including some evidence-based goal setting principles that have served me well and that I think you’ll be able to apply to good effect in your life. And I don’t think that there is a one size. Fits all winning formula that’s gonna work for everyone under all circumstances.
But if your goal setting armamentarium is well stocked, you’ll be able to find the formula that works for you. You’ll be able to find the ideas and the actions that ultimately allow you to get to where you want to be. And that pragmatism is something that I like about this topic and this episode hopefully will help you work.
Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. And we’re on top because every ingredient and. Dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.
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So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape, and frankly, most of them are virtually useless, there are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster. And you will find the best of them in legions products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and bars, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more head.
To buy legion.com/mike, that’s b u y L E G I O n.com/mike. And just to show you how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order. Okay, so let’s start this discussion with some of the problems with how many people set goals, and let’s start that with the smart formula that I mentioned in the intro.
And there are many derivatives of this as well, because it has been around for a while. Now, in case you didn’t listen to the intro, SMART is an acronym for outlining goals that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Now, according to many productivity gurus, unless your goal meets those criteria, It’s just a dream, but if you apply the smart formula to it, then you can make your goal a reality.
Now, if you have ever followed this system, you’ve probably found that it doesn’t really pan out in practice as it does on paper. And the main reason for this is the smart formula works well for clarifying a goal you have already set, but it offers little guidance on how to choose a. In the first place.
What’s more? It doesn’t address prioritizing goals among many others as well as obligations that are calling for your attention or identifying and executing the steps that you’ll actually need to take to achieve the goal. I would say that the smart formula is better at describing how people set goals than describe.
How to set them. In other words, most people don’t have trouble setting a specific goal that is relative to something they want or they need, and then giving it a deadline. Like that’s pretty common. But the real bear, at least for most people, is determining what goals to pursue in the first place and which ones to table to put off for the future and what the.
Course of action is for achieving the goals that are at the top of the list, and then how to build systems that put you on the road to success, that if you just work consistently enough, will produce the results that you want, will help you. Get to the goal. Now, that isn’t to say that the smart formula or any of the many iterations of it is wrong or useless, but it’s just not complete.
And another problem with the smart formula is I think it often leads to what the author and computer science Professor Cal Newport refers to as pseudo striving. It gives you an evanescent boost of motivation and satisfaction, like you did something to get closer to your goal when you didn’t. The needle didn’t actually move.
So what should we do instead? What’s a better way to achieve our goals and specifically our fitness goals? That’s gonna be the focus of this discussion given the theme of the podcast. But of course, what I’m gonna be talking about applies to any goal really. Now the full answer to that question I just posed could fill several books, of course, but I wanna share with you one approach in particular that has worked very well for athletes, for entrepreneurs, for high achievers in many different disciplines.
Now, this different approach comes from the work of a woman named Sarasvati, and in the late nineties, she was pondering a simple question. But a very difficult question to answer, and that is what makes some entrepreneurs so much more successful than others, than their peers. Why do some people continually produce big wins and others just limp along or fall flat?
Or as she put it, what are the characteristics, habits and behaviors of the species entrepreneur now, instead of just meditating on the question in an ivory tower or examining some well-known literature, Scientific literature, business books, or going back over existing paradigms and paragons like Steve Jobs or Howard Schultz, Sam Walton, and so forth.
Sarahs hit the road. She went to 17 different states. She met with 30 founders of companies with revenues ranging from 200 million per year to over 6 billion per year in a wide range of industries, from steel manufacturing to teddy bear. Sales and semiconductor and biotech development, and instead of just asking these people a series of questions about their habits and practices and principles and routines, she wanted to understand the thinking process behind their actions.
She wanted to understand their operating system. Why did they make this or that decision? Why did they pursue this goal over that one? Why did they invest time, money? Effort into this thing and not those things. And to that end, Sarahs had each person complete a writing exercise that involved solving 10 problems to create a successful business, all starting with the same product.
She also had them talk through their thought processes and she recorded their answers as they answered the questions. And then she went through the recordings meticulously and she was looking for patterns and the way these people puzzle. These problems. And what she identified is that there were several similarities in their thinking.
And the most striking one was their tendency to rely on what she dubbed effectual thinking. And in a nutshell, what that means is instead of starting with goals and then working backward to figure out what resources, skills, advantages, and people that they would need to accomplish them. So that’s referred to as causal thinking.
These business people went in the other direction. They flipped the script, they took stock of what resources, skills, and advantages in people they currently had, and then they set goals based on that information. So in other words, instead of setting big, hairy, audacious goals in a vacuum that sound great, but have no clear path to.
Realization. What these people did is they looked at their current circumstances first, and then they outlined a number of possible next steps given where they are at, and then started working out goals based on what they foresaw. Now, of course, those resources and skills and advantages in people can grow over time and that.
Reflected in longer term goals that would be reflected in, okay, let’s say what the first quarter goals for the business are. The first year, first three, first five. Of course, those goals can grow bigger and harrier and more audacious, but again, they would be based in the reality. Of resources, skills, advantages in people and conservative estimates of outputs, what can actually be produced.
And while Sarah’s work was about the essence of entrepreneurship, that’s what she was investigating. This unique way of approaching goals has tremendous utility for US fitness people as well. Really, the one liner is effectual thinkers are pragmatists. They take the stars out of their eyes. They size up their strengths and weaknesses before they start setting goals, and then they start looking at which mountain peaks they should try to climb and in what order and why.
That is the polar opposite of how many people set fitness goals or really any goal for that matter. Instead, most people have been taught to shoot for the stars. Hit your wagon to a star and then you’ll find the motivation to somehow get there and you’ll change your behaviors naturally and you will adopt the right habits and you will find whatever you need to find to get there.
Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land among the stars. Right? There is value in that, especially if we’re talking about long-term, challenging, even unrealistic goals. And I’ll talk more on that in a moment. But more often than not, those goals just turn into Willow. The wisps, they’re so distant, they’re so daunting.
They’re so disconnected from the current reality that they just become. Excuses to not get started or to not keep going. To not keep building momentum and get that flywheel spinning faster and faster. So for example, let’s say you wanna lose weight and like many people you have tried and failed many times before, is making your goal more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, or time.
Really gonna change it this time while applying that smart formula and saying that, okay, you wanna lose 30 pounds in six months, is that gonna deliver the goods? No, of course not. An effectual thinker, though, would take a different tack. Instead, what they would first look at is their current resources, their current limitations, their current advantages, and then they would plan their next steps again, based on what they realist.
Have to apply to bring to bear and what they can realistically do, so the appraisal of the weight loss situation might look something like this. Okay. I am 30 pounds overweight and I have been this way for a while, and I’ve tried many diets and workout routines, and I haven’t stuck with anything for more than maybe a month or two before giving up.
I’ve lost some weight in the past, but never more than 10 pounds, and I’ve never kept it off. More than six months. The real struggle for me is consistency. But what I do have going for me is I am willing to learn things. I am willing to work at things. I do excel in my work life and in most areas of my life, I have things moving in the right direction.
I just haven’t been able to crack this body composition nut. I’ve also seen several of my friends lose weight, and I know that if they can do it, I can do it too. I just need the formula that. For me. All right. That’s a good starting place now, what actions can our friend consistently execute right away based on that assessment?
Well, they could start educating themselves on the real science, the grammar of fat loss, muscle gain, and habit change. They could buy a cookbook and use their free time to teach themselves how to cook healthy meals, so, Eat out less and eat less fast food maybe, and maybe they could start going on walks a few times per week just to get into the habit of consistently exercising.
Start with that tiny habit, right? In other words, even though this person hasn’t set any smart goals or any deadlines, they can start taking effective actions right away. That will get them closer to. Desired outcome of 30 pounds lost. Now, at this point, you might be wondering how are you supposed to decide on your next actions if you don’t know what your long-term goal is or put differently?
If you only focus on these realistic, small, tiny stepping stone, short-term goals based on what you have at hand, how are you gonna break out of your current circumstances? How are you gonna break out of that rut and achieve big, meaningful things over the long haul? Well, the answer to that brings us back to another insight that Sarah Saffy gleaned from her study of entrepreneurs.
None of them exclusively focused on effectual thinking. They just prioritized it over causal thinking. As she explained, the same person can use both causal and effectual. Reasoning at different times, depending on what the circumstances call for. In fact, the best entrepreneurs are capable of both, and do use both modes well.
In other words, the entrepreneurs had a general sense of what they wanted to achieve. There was a vision there for the future, even if it wasn’t. Perfectly crisp and delineated, but what they poured most of their time and energy into was quickly identifying and effectively executing the next actions to get there.
And for whatever it’s worth, this is always how I have been naturally oriented toward goal setting. When I start out in an activity, I’ve always just naturally. Take in stock of where I’m at, what I have to give to this activity in the way of time, money, effort, skill, and so forth. And what I think all of that is likely to produce over the first six to 12 months, maybe three months, depending on whatever we’re talking about.
But if it is a business thing, probably six to 12 months. If I can realistically paint an even bigger picture, if I can see a lot of potential, then I may also give a little bit of thought to what the three year mark might look like, the five year mark, if the six to 12 month test goes well. So, for example, I might play around with the idea of if it goes well and if it has this potential to scale, what that might look like.
If I can put more resources into it, if I can put more time into it, more money into it, more effort into it. But even that is based on what I realistically think I can put into it. And whenever I’m going through one of these exercises, I’m. Thinking with things being a lot harder in actuality than I anticipate, taking a lot more time, taking a lot more money, and falling a bit short in terms of my expected outcomes, because I’ve learned too many times that I tend to be a little bit too optimistic in how quickly and inexpensively I think.
That I can get certain things done and how well I think they’re going to do. And so I’ve found it just more practical. Again, really try to be conservative in my estimates about what it’s gonna take in terms of resources to make something happen and how far I am likely to get if I do that. And so a couple of examples.
One, let’s take. My sports nutrition company, legion athletics.com, , given our strategic plans for how we are going to make use of the people and the skills and the advantages and the capital that we have available to us right now, and given our plans to increase the availability of those things over the course of this year, I think that the company can do 27 to 30 million in revenue.
I think that is, Good conservative estimate that I backed into by looking at each element of the strategic plan and going through the process that I outlined. Was it, what is it gonna take to do this and what are the range of likely outcomes? If we think about it like a normal distribution, a bell curve, what would be an okay, a pretty good outcome, middle of the curve, what would that look like?
And normal distributions being what they are, that range. Outcomes would comprise the most likely range of outcomes. You know, 60 to 70% likely to fall within that range. And then look at what extraordinarily good outcomes might look like. Extraordinarily bad outcomes, even though they’re less likely. And so doing that type of analysis, a weighted analysis, cost benefit, analysis of each point, then I can predict with pretty good accuracy where we are going to end up by the end of the.
Now, let’s say that I had a big, hairy, audacious goal of 50 million in revenue this year. Is that possible? Of course, many things are possible. Not everything, but many, many things are possible. However, if I look at the resources we have and our plans for implementing them, for putting them to good use, I don’t see it.
I don’t see how we get two 50 million in revenue this year. It would require extraordinary luck. I pinned the probability at no more than 5%. It would require, for example, that our retail and our international programs that we are gonna be putting into effect this year go extremely well. Again, like far right of the distribution curve here, or it would require that our paid acquisition campaigns, which we are going to be aggressively ramping up this year, go extremely well, like way better than I would anticipate, and can those things happen.
Sure. And if they happen, great. Then you won’t hear me complaining. But as far as setting goals, setting expectations, and then figuring out next actions, the 50 million number is just a non-starter for me because the. Only high probability play that I can think of that would allow me to get there would be finding the perfect strategic partner who’s going to bring a lot of capital into the business, and who is going to agree to a high valuation.
Given the business’, current financials and market share, I wouldn’t be willing to sell equity at a mediocre valuation just to try to goose the growth a bit. I would rather stick to my current plan, hit the high twenties to maybe low thirties without any outside money, and then maybe look at raising money to try to go to the next level.
But anyway. If I were willing to go down that road now, then maybe I could get to 50 million. The reason why I am not pursuing that strategy is I just mentioned the valuation point, and there may be issues there, and I also just don’t see it as a very high probability play. I don’t think there are many potential strategic partners out there that would really fit the bill.
Again, they would need to have a lot of. and a lot of connections and a lot of expertise. It would have to be kind of plug and play where they’re gonna go, all right, we’re gonna inject 20 million into your business. We’re gonna take this equity for that, and we’re gonna agree to this high valuation, and we have all of the connections for retail, for international, and we have all of this marketing and advertising expertise.
We’re just gonna pull some levers and push some buttons, and that’s it. 50 million, 60 million in sales this year. If. You are that person, . I definitely want to hear from you, Mike most life.com, but based on the discussions I’ve had with quite a few smart and successful business people, some of them who work in private equity and mergers and acquisitions, it’s just not likely.
To pan out, it’s possible, but not likely, and I don’t like that. I don’t like investing a lot of resources into something that is low probability when I can invest those resources into something that is high probability with 70% of the outcome. So anyway, that’s why my strategic planning for Legion this year explicitly says this is intended to produce 27 to 30 million in sales.
Another example of applying this mentality to goal setting is how I went about learning golf when I was living in Florida. So what I did is before I started anything, I looked at how much time I was going to be giving it per week, and I figured that I could give 10 to 15 hours per week to golf without getting much in the way of anything else.
I was willing to do that. That meant a bit less time working, but there was something to be said for taking a little bit of time off of work. So I would go usually a little bit of time on Saturday, and then I would put in most of my time on Sunday. . And so, okay, with 10 to 15 hours per week, can I make progress?
Is that enough to get good? Because I wasn’t interested in getting into golf and sucking, I don’t like doing things that I’m bad at. If I’m gonna do something, I probably am gonna have to get at least good at it, or I’m just gonna stop doing it right. And. Uh, how good do I need to be to enjoy golf? Well, I concluded that I needed to be able to consistently shoot in at least the high seventies to low eighties to really feel like I was playing the game and to be able to maybe play in some local tournaments and some friendly matches and be able to put some money on it and make it fun.
And so then the question was, okay, is 10 to 15. Per week enough to go from where I was at in the beginning, which was bad. I don’t know. A hundred plus average scoring, uh, high nineties would’ve been like a good round two, that low eighties to high seventies. And in talking with some pros, not like professional golfers, but teaching pros and reading some books on golf, I concluded that, yeah.
Probably is doable. I wasn’t sure, but it wasn’t completely unreasonable. It wasn’t like me saying that I wanted to play on a mini tour within a year of putting 10 or 15 hours a week into it. No. And so anyway, what I concluded based again on my own study and speaking with credible experts is that I should be able to do that.
I should be able to go from where I was. To low eighties and high seventies, within a year to maybe two years. So a year would be fast, two years would be kind of slow. Again, if we look at this on a bell curve, maybe a year and a half on average, and if I pick it up quickly and I just have a knack for it, I might be there within a year.
And if I don’t pick it up quickly and don’t have much of a knack for it, it might take two. Now next was the decision, is this a goal worth pursuing 10 to 15 hours a week, a year to two years, assume a year and a half to get to a point where I’m consistently enjoying the game. And I figured, yeah, it was, that’s not that much time.
I did enjoy the process of learning the game and learning the swing and practicing, so there was enjoyment there. I was able to enjoy the playing of the game. To some degree sometimes when I hit good shots and then when I hit bad shots, not so much in the beginning, I was hitting, of course, a lot more bad shots than good shots, but that’s okay.
The good shots lessen the sting of the bad shot. And I also liked the long-term implications of getting good at golf because it’s something that I could do for the rest of my life and it’s something that I can do anywhere in the world. And I had friends that were. And I’m assuming that if I stuck with it, I would always have friends to play with.
And so there was a lot that I liked about it and I figured it was worth the investment of the resources. And then I started to look at the system that was going to be needed to get to my goal. Within one to two years, given the time constraints, and I don’t wanna ramble too much about this, so I’ll just kind of end the anecdote there.
But I created that system just by reading books and learning about what other people did to go from bad to good. And in the end I came close. So within a year or so of year and a couple of months of. This, I had made really good progress. My best round was in 81 and that was uh, a 39 on the front and a 42 on the back.
And that was real golf. Of course. No mulligans, no fixing lies, no bullshit. And I was consistently now in the high eighties to low nineties and I was knocking probably. average about two balls out of bounds per round. And so that was costing me four strokes right there, and those were almost always off of the T.
And so I was then working on improving my accuracy off the T because if I just stopped knocking balls out of bounds, then I would be very close to my original goal. Now, ultimately, I ended up moving to Virginia and playing a lot less golf, so I didn’t reach my goal, but I will pick. At some point in the near future, probably within the next couple of years, I’ll be willing to give it that time again.
And because of all of the work that I did previously, I will be able to get back to where I was very quickly. I’ve already experienced this several times where I would get into playing a little bit of golf again and start hitting more good shots and start seeing that old game start to come back. But I don’t like playing golf by myself.
I learned that in. And I didn’t really find anybody at the local club that I was playing at here in Virginia that I wanted to spend afternoons with. And so that was a bit of a, a damper for me. However, it looks like I’m gonna be moving back to Florida this year, and several of the guys who work with me are based in Florida, and I’ll be probably not right where they are, but I’ll be close enough to where I can start playing with at least one of them, if not two of them.
And that’ll be fun. Then I’ll be able to enjoy the game and enjoy the. and you know, speaking of the muscle memory of golf, this was kind of funny. I was in Wyoming last summer. I hadn’t swung a golf club in probably six months, like literally not one swing. And so I go to play with a buddy of mine and I use his clubs.
I didn’t care to bring my clubs because I just didn’t really care. We’re gonna play like one round of golf and I hadn’t played any golf in six months. Screw it. I’ll use his clubs and I’m six two. He’s probably five 10, so his clubs are probably not optimal for me, but they were okay. Good enough, right? So I’m on the range, warm up, first.
Swings again in six plus months. Start to get into a groove, start to feel pretty comfortable, and in that round I had my first eagle. I hit a great drive, and then I hit a great three wood off of the fairway and then made probably a 15 foot putt for Eagle.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. Anyhow. Let’s get back on track. Let’s start talking about goal setting.
In the context of fitness, how can you use everything that we just discussed to better set and achieve your fitness goals? Well, I have a simple three step formula or strategy that’s gonna help. The first is write down exactly where you stand in terms of your fitness. Then write down what you want to achieve.
Then write down the habits that you’ll. To get there and then start doing them immediately. So let’s talk a little bit more about each of these steps. So this first one, write down exactly where you stand in terms of your fitness. So before you set any goals, you really need to take a clear-eyed look at your current circumstances, and if you’re not sure where to start with that, just ask yourself a few questions.
What are you doing well at right now? What are you good at? What do you need to improve at? What bothers you the most about your health and fitness right now? What do you find yourself thinking about the most? What have you tried to achieve in the past and how did it go? And this writing exercise serves two important purposes.
The first one is it helps you better estimate how much time, effort, and attention you’ll need to achieve your goals. That is before you decide where you want to go. It’s useful to un to understand what it’s gonna cost, how much time, how much discomfort, how much energy, what is it going to require in the way of sacrifice?
And the other reason why this writing exercise is useful is as your thoughts simmer, your most important goals will naturally bubble to the surface. So, for example, if your weight is just the. That bothers you the most about your fitness right now, then losing weight is probably going to be your most important fitness goal.
It probably will make more sense to focus on losing fat on a cutting phase versus a lean bulking phase, for example. That’s a question that many guys usually ask me, should I cut first or a lean bolt first? And there is a personal preference. That matters. So if a guy is more concerned with gaining muscle and strength, let’s say he’s kind of skinny fat and he doesn’t like that, he has a, a belly, let’s say, but he really doesn’t like that.
He has small muscles, so he has very small arms. His clothes don’t fit him well. Then it would probably make more sense for him to lean bulk first, get a good six months of muscle and strength gain under his belt before. , he cuts. On the other hand, if he’s kind of skinny fat and he really doesn’t like his gut and that it sticks out and that he has to wear a belt and so forth, then it probably makes sense to cut first.
Okay, let’s get rid of the gut. Let’s see some abs and then. We can start lean bulking now. You don’t have to write much for this, maybe five or 10 sentences. And as you write, try to avoid self-censoring. Try to avoid dramatizing, exaggerating moralizing. Don’t be self-righteous with yourself. Just state the facts.
As you see them, pretend like you are a scientist that is just analyzing data. Don’t write, I suck at dieting. , right? I haven’t consistently followed a diet for more than eight weeks in a row. Just data. Now, if you find that difficult, again, imagine that you have a scientist that you have paid to just give you a no nonsense assessment.
Of your life or maybe a consultant, a life coach. If your life coach is an actual life coach, you need a new life coach. But anyway, the idea is that you have a third party who is just giving you unfiltered feedback. No judgment, just the facts. And you may even have a trusted friend or family member who could help with that, but they need to make sure that they do not sugarcoat their responses.
All right? Step two is write down what you want to achieve. And this is where causal thinking. Be helpful because now is the time to think more carefully about what you want to achieve, what outcome you desire. So based on your answers from the first step, then answer the question of what do you want to achieve with your body?
Now you can think in any timeframe that you like. You can think in months, years, decades, whatever. But you just wanna write down everything that comes to mind. Whether it’s a matter of health, maybe it’s lower your cholesterol to a healthy range, or maybe it’s vanity. Get abs, get biceps, get a better butt, whatever, or maybe some sort of personal satisfaction like climbing a mountain.
Now, once you have thought about those things, The hard part comes because now you need to organize your list of goals from the most important to the least important. And if you struggle with this, ask yourself two questions. What am I willing to give up to achieve this goal? And just know that the more that you are willing to sacrifice, the more the goal is important to you.
If you cannot. Really honestly say that you’re willing to give something much time, effort, money. You just don’t really want it that much, and that’s okay. It is very important to be honest with yourself on the importance or lack of importance of these goals because if the importance is not there, if the necessity is not there, if the willingness to sacrifice is not there, then you are almost certainly not going to achieve the.
so who cares? Now, if you’re thinking, well, aren’t some goals just objectively important, like health goals? For example, if you are unhealthy and you have a health condition, isn’t it objectively important to fix that? And if someone doesn’t feel the urge, like they know intellectually it’s important, but emotionally they’re just not invested in it.
They just are not willing to give up the foods or. The lifestyle. What does that mean? Well, it can mean different things, but often it means they haven’t really clarified their whys. And if you wanna learn more about that, head over to legion athletics.com and search for fitness y, and you’ll find an article and a podcast based on the article called Finding Your Biggest Fitness Wise.
Check that out. Okay, so back to prioritizing. The goals. This sacrifice point is good for determining which goals are more important to you than others. And you can also think about, if you could only achieve one of the goals on your list, what would it be? Just keep asking yourself that until you’ve worked your way through the whole list.
So initially you can eliminate several that definitely not the one, and then look. The candidates for the one, and as you go over them, you’ll probably eliminate a couple more and you just repeat that process until you’ve winnowed the one. And then the next part is harder, unfortunately, because you have to circle the top two goals on your list, and then you have to ignore the rest.
For now, you’re gonna focus on just the top two, and the importance of focus cannot be understated. You can only effectively pursue a limited number of goals at any one time. You only have so much time and so much energy. . And if you spread yourself too thin, if you dilute your efforts into too many different goals, you will ultimately overreach and you are not going to make enough progress on any of them to stay motivated and to get to where you want to be.
And I’ve made this mistake plenty of times and I’ve had to discipline. To not try to do too many things at once, and to ensure that I know why I am doing what I’m doing and ensure that I’m still clear on whatever I’m doing being the highest and best use of my time. One of the things that I find demotivating and just aggravating is losing that clarity is working on a project that isn’t clearly.
The thing I should be doing over all of the other things. And so I regularly audit what I’m doing with my time and what projects I have on the docket, so to speak. And what are all of the other potential? Things I could be working on and just making sure that I still agree with my prioritization, because sometimes I find that just revisiting the list of things that I could be doing, let’s say after a few months of doing things, changes my perspective.
Sometimes circumstances force a change. Other times it really is just me seeing things a bit differently and realizing actually this thing that’s in the number one slot really should be in like the number. Four slot and this thing that’s in the number eight slot should probably be in the number two slot and so forth.
So anyway, back to fitness goals. I think a good rule of thumb is two, just pick two goals. And I typically recommend focusing on a body composition or a physiological goal, like losing pounds of fat or gaining pounds of muscle, or maybe reducing blood pressure as well as a performance based goal. So again, two goals.
One, regarding body comp, because that is very motivat. And then another regarding performance, like maybe deadlifting twice your body weight or running a half marathon. And why the bifurcation there? Well, two reasons. One, fitness is only one part of your life and you probably have other personal and professional goals.
Thus, you are probably pursuing several other goals at the same time. And if you set too many goals in one area of your life, like fitness for example, it will detract from other areas primarily because it’s just going to require. Time, and it’s also going to require more energy, more physical energy, of course, more mental energy.
Now, the good news about fitness goals, and this is the second reason why I recommend setting two fitness goals, is they do tend to be complimentary. So pursuing one goal. Often, indirectly helps you achieve the other. So if, for example, your physiological goal is to lose 20 pounds, well that is going to make it easier to deadlift twice your body weight because you’re not gonna have to lift as much weight.
And if you’re gonna lose those 20 pounds in the way that I would recommend, you’re going to be doing a lot of strength training, which of course is going to work directly toward the perform. Based goal. Now whether you set deadlines for your fitness goals is up to you. Many people find deadlines motivating, at least in the early stages of their journey, before the habits are really established, but others don’t care for deadlines and find them unnecessary or even redundant once you implement the next step.
As far as my goal setting goes. My emphasis on deadlines really depends on what we’re talking about. So if it is something related to the business, and let’s say to hit the 27 million or the 30 million revenue number, here are the main things that need to happen. And then here are the things that need to happen to make those things happen.
And it’s important that these things happen in a timely manner. Because this thing here, which we are projecting to make us 5 million this year, will only make us $5 million if it gets done by June, let’s say, and runs for the rest of the year. And so in scenarios like those, it is important to have deadlines and to prioritize the deadline.
And if you don’t think you can hit the deadline given your resources really starting to figure out, alright, how do. This deadline, unless the answer is actually we can’t, in which case then the projections would change, right? If realistically we couldn’t get that 5 million thing done until August or September, then we are going to make less money from it.
Now in other arenas of life, I’m not. Nearly as concerned with a deadline. In my Gulf example, I didn’t have a, a deadline. I just figured one to two years is a reasonable timeframe and I could have added a deadline. I guess I could have said, okay, within the first six to eight months, I need to have broken 90 for the first time.
Now, is that true? To achieve my bigger goal? No, probably not. So, It just wouldn’t have served any useful purpose. So instead, I was more interested in just tracking my progress and seeing if I am roughly on track to achieve the bigger goal. And so I was more interested in tracking the little things. That add up to a good round.
I was more interested in seeing that my accuracy off the T was getting better. I was hitting fewer OB balls. I was hitting more fairways. I was putting more balls than on the green and around the green, and I was putting. Better because as far as the score goes, anybody who plays golf knows that a good round can turn into a bad round really fast.
You can have a couple of bad holes if you’re playing real golf, and that’s it. What was gonna be in 85 is now a 95 because of three bad holes. And so score alone can be a bit misleading. Of course, you wanna see your average score going down, but there can be a lot of volatility even when you are markedly improving your game.
It just takes a lot to get to a point of consistently. Good. Anyway, lest I turn this episode into a golf instructional piece, let’s talk about this third and final step, which is write down the habits you’ll need to get. Where you want to be and then start doing them immediately. Now, this of course, is where the rubber meets the road.
What do you need to do every day and every week and every month to reach your goal? And what do you need to not do to make sure that you get there and you want to brainstorm this, and you want to write down a list of possible ideas. So if you want to lose weight, maybe this list has things like eating the right number of calories every day that’s gonna be important.
And eating enough protein every day, very important. And lifting weights, uh, doing some strength training. Several times per week and doing some cardio several times per week, maybe preparing meals ahead of time. That can help with sticking to your calories in your macros. And as far as not doing things, maybe it’s not overeating too often and not overdoing it when you overeat and not staying up too late, because then that means that you’re more likely to miss workouts and overeat, and of course it’s just not good for your.
Also maybe not overly restricting your food choices, because that just makes it harder to stick to your diet. Once you have your list, you then wanna break those things down into more specific next actions. You wanna make those actions as easy as you can to just do them. I regularly, and yeah, sometimes you have to kick yourself in the buttocks to get things done, but that’s life, right?
And of course you don’t have to be perfect with any of it. You just have to be good enough most of the time. And if you want to, More of my thoughts on how to win at the inner game of getting fit. And if you are still listening to this podcast, I’m assuming you like at least something that I have said.
Check out, uh, my book, the Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. I think you’ll like it. Now, I mentioned a couple of minutes ago that this final step can make deadlines redundant. Why is that? When you cultivate the right habits and they just become second nature and they become things that you do far more often than not, or don’t do far more often than you do, success really becomes an inevitability instead of just a possibility by consistently just.
Sticking to your habits, you will reach your goal. You do not need a deadline dangling over your head like the sword of Damocles, for example, if you were to follow the advice I just gave regarding weight loss, you could lose a pound a week, maybe two pounds per week. Depending on where you are starting like clockwork without feeling excessive hunger or cravings or without, uh, suffering low energy levels and low mood and all of the other negative side effects associated with dieting.
All right, well, this was a longer episode, but I hope you found it helpful. And if I were going to distill everything in this podcast down to just one line, it would probably be spend. 10% of your time thinking about what you want and 90% of your time thinking about how you’re gonna get it and taking the next actions required.
And I know that is very commonplace and it’s unsexy and it’s not very fun until you really get proficient at it. But fortunately you can get proficient at it. You just have to practice and you have to work at it. And like anything else, there are ups and downs and sometimes things go better and sometimes things go worse.
But so long as your general trajectory is upward, you are making progress. And it’s also one of those crucial things that people who consistently succeed do, and people who consistently fail do not. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or.
Wherever you’re listening to me from, in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility. And thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well.
And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes, Then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com. Just muscle f o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this better.
I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email. That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at muscle life.com.
And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.