As you work through the process of creating and refining your goals, don’t limit yourself to a single definition of success.
For example, a lot of guys might find themselves frustrated with a woman who embarks upon a weight-loss campaign, only to quit after several weeks, despite having succeeded by all rational measures: she looks better, her bodyfat percentage has dropped, her clothes are loose, her energy has increased, and her blood lipids have improved. Yet, because her weight has remained the same, she considers herself a failure.

Despite this, most guys do them same thing: they limit themselves to a single definition of success (often relating to lean-mass gain or maximum strength improvements), while ignoring numerous other factors that are not only important by themselves, the also contribute to the original goal.
So if your goal is to bench 405 or to weigh 260 at less than 10% bodyfat, stay with that goal, but also consider casting a wider net: also measure indicators such as joint pain, technical proficiency, or maybe even competitive success (as measured by a national ranking in weightlifting or powerlifting for example).
When you establish and track multiple indicators- multiple definitions of success really- you stand a far better chance of succeeding. Take them time right now to establish 3-5 “Functional Indicators” for yourself.
If any of these indicators are qualitative in nature (for example, energy levels or self-perceived levels of orthopedic pain), give them a quantitative measurement scale: for example, a 1-10 scale. Then, on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) track how these indicators are progressing. This type of broader perspective can really help sustain your motivation levels when you’re battling through a plateau or dealing with an injury or other temporary setback.
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3 Comments
  1. Pete S 11 years ago

    I’ll try this, it’s an interesting idea, I think we do get to tied up in only looking at one goal, this is another of those mental tricks, that sounds like it could be a great way to keep motivated.
    What would you suggest if your primary aim is muscle mass, what 3 other goals would best sit with that aim , I guess strength gains would be one.

  2. Author
    Charles Staley 11 years ago

    Hey Pete!
    I would probably use strength benchmarks on “big” lifts such as the 3 power lifts for example. As your strength increases on these lifts, you’re creating the foundation for additional size as well.
    You can also use “behavioral” benchmarks. Examples of these might include but are not limited to:
    – Training Frequency: Ex: 4 days a week, every week, for “X” number of weeks. The premise is that if you make it to the gym, 4 days a week, long terms, you’re giving yourself a chance to succeed- in other words, good things are likely to happen.
    – Social Support: If you train alone, you’d be better off with a partner, a trainer/coach, or a group environment.
    Hope that gives you all a few ideas— these are all just snippets on the DNA chain of success. As I said in the article, the key idea is to have several possible ways to measure progress, above and beyond the most direct and/or obvious way.
    You can relate this to running a business by the way- for example, maybe the main goal is to grow say $100k next year. You develop “behavioral” benchmarks that if achieved, are likely to lead you to the primary goal. Some of these benchmarks might be things like having weekly staff meetings, individual employee reviews, contests where employees submit their ideas for how to improve the company, employee inventive plans, and so on and so forth. These benchmarks tend to be easier to control and accomplish than the primary goal.

  3. Pete S 11 years ago

    Awesome, thank you Charles, great to see you here.

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