Building A Goal, From The Outside In….

Failure Is An Option

Naming a goal and doing little in its pursuit is just giving failure a softer name.

Failure is an option.  For most who pursue a fitness goal, failure will be the only option.  I suggest that 90% of people who conceive a fitness related goal never achieve that goal – most never come close.  I believe people fail at fulfilling their fitness agenda for a combination of reasons, primary among the reasons are:

  1. Time; underestimating how much time it will take to fulfill one’s fitness destiny. 
  2. Ambition; overestimating what can truly be accomplished within established time, personal, and physical boundaries. 
  3. Effort; underestimating how much effort is involved in changing the landscape of the human form – effort at the dinner table as well as effort in exercise. 

Think It Through, Don’t Drift

Fitness is an endeavor requiring thought of an end-result, and the creation and follow-through of an achievable plan leading to that result. If there is no thought of where that outcome lay nor how to get there, then the term endeavor gives way to the word drift. To my knowledge, drifting has never taken anybody where they want to go. 

Time; establish realistic boundaries

It takes time, lots and lots of it...

  • How many days per week are you truly able to commit to an exercise program? Over-committing can lead to frustration, and abandonment of the course. Better to start with just one day per week of rigorous exercise and prove to yourself during a month’s time that this can be achieved. Then, after a month of successfully creating that habit, add one more workout per week. If you start by attempting six exercise sessions per week and you can’t keep that pace, you will likely get disillusioned and give up.
  • Time allotted per workout; same as above. Better to commit to 20-30 minute workout sessions in the beginning, and add time after you have proven to yourself that you can meet that initial boundary. As your lifestyle and schedule permit, add an extra 5 or 10 minutes to your workouts and adjust your goals upward accordingly.
  • Make an honest study of how long it will take to reach your goal(s).  Don’t expect change overnight because it will not happen overnight. Accept that you are probably months, if not years away from fully realizing your fitness goals. However, with consistent workouts supported by mindful eating, you should see small changes with your body regularly. 

Ambition; establish realistic goals

Though many will try, few have what it takes to hit the target...

Too many people choose the unrealistic goal of looking like an action figure or a magazine cover when really, they should just be trying to look a little less like an obese cadaver.

Before you can begin to establish what your fitness goals are going to be, you must first establish what they should be.  Understand and respect the boundaries of your lifestyle; relationships, job, time, abilities, age, and so-on. If your boundaries are not consistent with your goals, then the goals need be amended downward to accommodate those boundaries.

  • Once your time, personal, and social boundaries are established, only then can you conceive what your goals should be – based on the limits of your boundaries.
  • Be realistic. It’s one thing to dream about having a youthful body; it’s something entirely different to successfully earn one.  Prioritize what you can vs. what you want to achieve.  Use logic, honesty, and perhaps a professional opinion to determine whether or not it should be a goal. 

Effort; don’t pamper yourself

Sweat, it's like the tears of change...

  • Body-changing exercise should be rigorous if not intense.  There is a direct relationship between intensity and results.  I know of no great fitness success stories which came about by taking the stairs rather than the escalator, and cutting back on desserts.
  • Despite all the effort and all the sweat in exercise, the hardest efforts one will face in the quest to lose weight will be in uttering the word no on an ongoing basis.

Complexity In A Nutshell

I have seen many people attempt significant change in the landscape of their bodies. A few I know have succeeded; most I have known have failed.  Those who have succeeded have had three things going for them; the ability to set realistic goals, the mental drive to pursue those goals, and the acceptance that true change is a long-term endeavor.   Be well. rc

30 responses

  1. Excellent, honest information Roy. A personal trainer that I met once told me that when he gives away a free session he often never sees the person again. He said that when he follows up they generally report that they were so sore from the workout that they didn’t want to come back. I think that answer fits into the 3 things that you mentioned. You have to be realistic about things, you are going to be sore if you aren’t accustomed to working out. You have to be willing to deal with a bit of discomfort and realize that results won’t come overnight.

    • Thank you Karen! Because of how i make my living I get a different perspective on all of this. Most people see fitness from the outside; from TV and magazines which can make it look easy. From this angle, effort is wear it’s at.

  2. Interesting way of looking at it! I agree. With preparation, we can succeed, but if we are all talk or if we place our goals unrealistically high, or if we simply let other things to get in the way, then we will only meet with failure. It’s about prioritizing and truly making the commitment.

  3. Well even Jack La Lanne said if you strive for perfection you may reach excellence so I guess if he was willing to fall short, so am I 🙂

    I have read too often of people just starting an exercise program having running a marathon as a stated goal. When I started my exercise program, my stated goal was do it again tomorrow.

    Excellent advice as to how to get it started and keep it going. Thanks Roy!!

    • Dr. J: I truly wish Jack La Lanne had made more of a dent than he did. No fitness blogger, nor pundit today has a more clear understanding of the consequences which lay ahead than he did 40+ years ago. He called it out, he predicted it, and spoke against it, and NOBODY listened. Just a shame…

  4. All of these are excellent considerations, but I don’t see “failure” as being such a negative thing. Some of the reason I recognize these points as excellent is because of past failures that taught me. In reflecting on what went wrong “the last time,” we can sometimes learn about ourselves in a deep way and eventually develop the ability to form a plan that will work.

    • Frances: Thank you for dropping by! While I agree 100% that there is much to be learned from failures, I write more about those who actually set themselves up for failure. Yes, we will have failures along the way, I have had many of my own.

      However, I don’t think aiming for them is the way to go and my experience working in fitness has let me see that, when starting out, most people aim the ship directly at the reef of failure and shout, “Full steam ahead.”

  5. Very excellent post Roy. I know that I have failed at a lot of my fitness goals. I did “try” but I didn’t “commit” fully to doing a 10K or something like it. I try to set reasonable goals for myself, but even then I fall short.

  6. Great post Roy, loved it (will be linking on Sunday, lol)

    I think a hard part to explain is that when you start a sport, weight lifting, running, etc. it can take 10 years to reach your potential in it. That’s a real mind freak when someone want to drop 50lbs. I want to look like this in ten years so isn’t it worth the time and effort.

    Speedy results only matter if you plan on stopping 😉

  7. Rita, thank you stopping in.

    “Speedy results only matter if you plan on stopping.”

    Somehow that little nugget has escaped me all of these years but it has immediately become a new favorite quote. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  8. Wow!!!! Fantastic as usual, but even more so today.

    When I first began weight loss blogging last year, I had a goals page and a progress page on my blog. When things didn’t happen as fast as I thought they should or I couldn’t meet my goals like I wanted to, I’d get very frustrated and feel like a failure.

    I really wasn’t *failing* but I was seeing progress very slowly. I’ve taken the focal point from the goals and moved to to ME. This isn’t a rush to finish as fast as I can. This is a work in progress and this is my life. I can do this, but I will always believe that old adage that “steady and slow wins the race”.

    Wonderful tips here – thanks for making me think. I do think I should have said “no” to those pizza snacks last night. WTF was I thinking? LOL

    • Bobbie: Your success makes most people’s success look dim. Why? Because you have succeeded in attitude above all else. How much you have grown through this process…

      Slow and steady really does win the race. As for the pizza snacks, all you need to do is win 9 battles out of 10. Lets just say the pizza snack were the 1 lost battle, as was my box of Cheez-Its last month -)

  9. I think I get what you mean, Roy. When I began Kung Fu training three years ago with my daughter and another mother friend and her daughter, I knew that it was going to be really hard. I had been pretty sedentary, and had some other previous “failures” at attempting fitness because of being too ambitious, and I could see that the training at the school was rigorous.

    My friend who joined with me wanted to come to all the classes the school offered, including the really intense kickboxing classes, so she signed up for a really ambitious schedule right off the bat.

    I decided to make one goal — to just see if I could get to class 3x a week. That was my only goal for the first six months. Not how many jumping jacks I could do, or how many crunches, or even how fast I would progress. I knew from experience that if I made any goal bigger than that I would burn out.

    Well, three years later and I am in the advanced class and I hope will be invited to black sash training soon. This 3x a week class has become a part of my life and I have set up meals and shopping and other appointments around it. So, I guess that approach of being very realistic worked.

  10. Roy, what a great post!!! All so very true.. and that word NO! Especially when it comes to food which is such a huge factor. No to too much & foods that will not help you achieve those goals & YES to healthier choices.

    I have seen many “fail” due to doing too much at first & getting either burned out, injured or hurting so bad after the workouts that they give up.

    And the almighty.. IT TAKES TIME! Patience is one of my MUSTS for losing weight!

    It is so true about gaols & what you are willing to do to get there too. Many people ask me about how I get & stay so fit. I tell them hard work, consistency, patience & eating clean.

    I also tell them that many may not be willing to do what I do to look this way. I have decided for now that it is worth all the effort I put in to look this lean & fight off that aging process.. although as you said, we can only do so much… Damn!!!

    Those who have succeeded have had three things going for them; the ability to set realistic goals, the mental drive to pursue those goals, and the acceptance that true change is a long-term endeavor – this is so true & for me, the MENTAL DRIVE has been HUGE!!!!

    As for real life Roy, as you know, I have not done as well as my fitness goals….

  11. Jody: Since we are on the same page for all the fitness related stuff, I will only address the real-life stuff.

    I think you sell yourself short — again and again. Perhaps you see the world outside Jody larger and meaner than it really is.

    All the boundaries, limits, joys and successes that apply to your fitness life apply to the real world too! You ARE the boss of you 🙂

    • I will think about that real life stuff. I have been in many jobs where I was not the boss of me if I wanted to get paid & such. I don’t disagree with what you said, I just have a hard time making real life work the way fitness works for me because I call most of the shots in my fitness life beyond what age things we can’t do anything about. Real life, at times, takes capital & we don’t all have that for some of the things we want to do…. I know your response to that, :-), but it has been a reality for me.

      • One thing I can say for sure Jody, is that every good quality I possess relating to work, social interaction, and discipline, I have learned through exercise. It has been a great proving ground for me. I know you can apply all that discipline that you have learned there (also) beyond the gym– I know it!

  12. I think this is great information. That statistic is depressing:( For a lot of the blogs that I follow, I think the key might be to take baby steps. Any little bit to get started. I think some people bit off more than they can chew and then they can’t keep up with that for whatever reason.

  13. Dear Roy,
    Right on! To be a champion, one must set a goal and diligently pursue it; lots of dedication and hard work. There’s no easy way.
    Keep up the great work.
    Your friend,
    “Lots of Love and God Bless!!!!

    • Charlie: Thank you so much for commenting here. I am always humbled when you do. As an Olympian and a world class runner, I can honestly suggest, you are a much better authority on this subject than I. Thank you sir!

  14. I’ve missed you Roy!!! 🙂 Great post!

    I’ve pretty much drifted all summer…it was kind of nice but now I’m ready for something a little more challenging!!!

    • Oh Canada, what’s up…? Welcome back Carla. You may have been drifting this summer but winter is around the corner, and where you live, that means gym time!!! Uhm, becuase it’s really cold outside and the gym is warm….

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