You heard it here first, and now I absolutely have to get it done, to avoid an incredible public ridicule and loss of credibility. I’m both nervous and excited as I type this, because I know there is no turning back, and I’m really looking forward to reaching the goal.
There are many useful tips in the old toolkit of traditional self-help tricks. Most of them sound cheesy, but a good portion of them are pretty darned effective. Thinking Big. Optimism. Learning from other successful people. Shedding the burden of stress. They don’t sound all that scientific or academic, so smart people like us have a habit of wrinkling our noses and dismissing them as oversimplifications not suitable for our sophisticated psyches. But we do so at our own peril, because academic-sounding or not, some of the stuff works. And we can get a lot more fun out of life if we can learn to tweak our own mental habits by putting some of these tricks to work.
And so we get to today’s tweak: The Publicly Proclaimed Goal. Why is it so powerful? Why is it worth embracing?
For many of the things we do in life, no particular goals are required. We all go to sleep when we’re tired and wake up in the morning. Most of us manage to keep the fridge stocked, get to work on time, spend time with our friends, and take vacations each year. I can see that making time to read Mr. Money Mustache is proving to be fairly easy for you as well. For anything that is already going just fine, goal-setting may seem unnecessary.
But then there are the troublesome areas. Perhaps you have wrestled with eating, smoking or drinking problems for years. Maybe you’ve wanted to learn a musical instrument or a language, find yourself a better job, or relocate to a better town. And while the desire has been there for a long time, you mysteriously find yourself not acting on it for years on end. Excuses pile up, or unsatisfying filler activities pour in to fill up the space in your life that could easily be used to accomplish the bigger goals.
This is a potentially serious problem, because it’s a form of wasting your life. Your personal “dream” goals are probably more important than the daily habits you’ve formed. Is spending more time car-commuting, scrolling through Facebook or watching TV sports more important than achieving the things you dream about?
To get these elusive things to happen, you may just need a psychological plateau-breaker. Something to shake up your internal Excusitis Cocktail and spur you into a pattern of action that gets you towards your goal. And as it turns out, developing a habit of small but frequent action that moves you in the right direction is all it takes to accomplish just about anything, given sufficient time.
I’ve got plenty of unsatisfied goals circulating around in my own head, most of them related to music. My often-stated goal of being the drummer in a local funk band is no closer to happening than it was the last time I stated it. My skills on the guitar remain similarly rusty. The common factor in all of these things is that I never take action on them. Other things always seem to take precedence over organizing rocknroll nights where people make music together. The results reflect the lack of effort.
Other things seem to work out just fine. I manage to do plenty of bike riding, because I’m out of the habit of using the car. I have no choice but to go out on the bike, because it’s the only way to get my son to school and to get myself to and from the grocery store. So I either bike, or I sit at home starving while my child misses school. Similarly, eating well is pretty easy – I only buy food that is good for you, so when it’s mealtime at the MMM household, you either fix yourself a healthy meal, or you starve. I do plenty of writing on this blog, because the feedback from the real world (You) makes it seem rewarding and urgent to make at least an article or two every week.
These external motivations are powerful forces that allow habits to be built. Meanwhile, my failed musical habits are allowed to continue because nobody shows up at my house every Friday night with guitar and bass in hand expecting to rock.
So today I’d like to try an experiment in motivation, by turning an internal semi-motivation into an external MegaMotivation. And you’re welcome to join me, if there’s anything YOU would like to accomplish this winter.
Right now, I really want to gain some strength and weight. Although I claim to be a weight-training enthusiast, the truth is that I have been slacking off and fooling myself for quite some time. I reached my peak strength way back in my early 30s, with a body weight of just over 200 pounds, maximum bench press of 285 and squat of 360. Although those are far from NFL player numbers, I felt they were a good start for a nerdy computer engineer.
Then I slacked off and started letting other things replace the training schedule. I fooled myself into thinking I was still lifting regularly, but every time I checked the calendar, it had been about a week since the last workout. But nobody was watching and I didn’t have any particular strength goals, so the pattern continued. I changed my eating style and lost quite a bit of fat, and the new lean body seemed preferable to the old stronger but stockier arrangement. Life seemed fine.
However, reality recently caught up to me. I started getting random cases of “old man back” – a sore lower back might spring up after carrying a garbage can full of rocks or sleeping in the wrong position. I started moving from “lean” to “downright bony in places”, my old pants started to look extremely loose, and my strength started dropping along with my bodyweight, which reached a low of 165 pounds. Slowly but surely, I have been turning into a wimp.
So today I turn to External Motivation to solve this problem. A man of my age has many reasons to maintain a reasonable amount of strength. Having a strong back and core prevents annoying pulled muscles and especially back problems. It makes me a more effective carpenter, since many of the operations on a construction project require all the strength you can muster. And it prevents injuries – a snowboarding or bicycle crash can be a debilitating hospital experience for an unfit and bony or overweight rider, or a comical bouncing experience for the amusement of your friends, with appropriate physical conditioning.
On top of that, I have been summoned to appear as Mr. Money Mustache in a possible (but far from definite) TV series. MMM is a bossy and authoritative character, and he needs to have a BIG physical presence to back it up if he is to make an impression on the television screens of ordinary Americans and frighten them into action.
So I hereby propose an experiment. To gain strength and size faster than I ever have in my life, and set an all-time lifting record even at a lower bodyweight. I have to get it done, because I told you I’m going to do it.
The nuts-and-bolts of it are just two really heavy workouts per week at the local Crossfit gym under the uncompromising gaze of the massively strong (and extravagantly Mustachioed) “Coach D.”, and a third weekend workout at home. Combined with plenty of bike riding, and plenty of calories. Here is the goal, by the numbers.
|Measurement||Current Status (Nov 5)||Goal (March 21)|
|Body Weight (lbs)||165||185+|
|Max. Bench Press||235||300|
|Max. Squat||245 (est)||300|
|Max. Deadlift||250 (est)||300|
|Bodyfat Percentage (estimated)||9||10 or less|
Do YOU have a pesky goal that you just want to GET GOING on, right now? If you write it in the comments section below, we will all keep track of it and make sure you’re honoring your commitment. On March 21st, I will come back and check up on you, and your success (or, very unlikely, failure) will be shared with the world in that future article.
Do YOU live in the Longmont, Colorado area and want to train alongside me in this mega-ultra-fitness overhaul? I’ll be working out at the Twin Freaks Crossfit every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30PM with the Almighty Coach D. You can join our exclusive class and make progress faster than you ever have in your life. Crossfit fees will cost you $100 a month (pay as you go), which is expensive. But I’m paying the fee gladly to make a big change in a short time, and it’s an external commitment that makes sure I won’t let myself down. Get in touch through the contact button, or talk to James at Twin Freaks Crossfit to join the class.
Proclaiming your goals in public really gets you off your butt to accomplish them. The only question is: do you have the guts to do it, when there’s no turning back?